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US home sellers file another commission lawsuit

Another lawsuit has been filed in the US against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and major real estate companies, accusing them of conspiring to keep buyer broker commissions high.

According to Inman, the new antitrust suit was filed on November 22 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. 

Similar to the Sitzer-Burnett case, the new complaint accuses the NAR and residential real estate brokerages of orchestrating to increase broker compensation at the expense of home sellers.

The case takes aim at the practice of having sellers’ agents offer commissions to agents representing buyers –  the issue that was at the heart of Sitzer-Burnett, which the NAR lost.

The new complaint alleges the scheme has “artificially and anticompetitively maintained commissions of buyer brokers ranging from 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent over many years”. 

The suit names two dozen different defendants including NAR, HomeServices of America and its affiliates, Keller Williams, Compass, and others. 

There are also numerous local agencies named including Ansley Real Estate, Atlanta Fine Homes and PalmerHouse Properties.

A spokesperson for NAR said that the cooperative compensation practice makes efficient, transparent, and accessible marketplaces possible.

“Sellers can sell their home for more and have their home seen by more buyers while buyers have more choices of homes and can afford representation,” NAR told Inman.

“The National Association of Realtors will respond to this complaint in court.”

According to Inman, plaintiffs in the new Georgia case include home sellers Janet Phillips, Joseph Hunt, Edith Anne Hunt, Penny Scheetz, Benjamin Aune and Parkwood Living LLC.

The new Georgia suit is seeking class-action status on behalf of all home sellers who listed their properties on one of the state’s multiple listing services and who had to pay a buyer broker commission between November 22, 2019, and present.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.