More Commission Lawsuits Challenge the Real Estate Industry
In the wake of the recent guilty verdict issued against major real estate brokerages and the National Association of Realtors, more lawsuits are popping up across the U.S.
After two major real estate brokerages each agreed to settle for tens of millions of dollars and a jury found other brokerages and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) guilty of conspiracy to inflate real estate commissions. it’s no surprise why “copycat” lawsuits filed by home buyers, home sellers, and their class-action lawyers are sweeping across the country. Opportunistic attorneys and their class-action clients are hoping to cash in at the expense of the real estate industry, as public opinion about real estate commissions has started to sour.
To name a few, new lawsuits in Texas, South Carolina, and New York are calling out local real estate agent associations, real estate brokerages of all sizes, and even individual brokers in some cases. The plaintiffs claim that the real estate industry at large has conspired to fix and/or inflate real estate commissions, to the detriment of home buyers and sellers. Even though the recent guilty verdict in the Sitzer/Burnett case is being appealed by all defendants, it seems that the verdict has emboldened critics of the real estate industry.
What Happens Next?
If real estate brokerages and associations continue to offer settlements and juries continue to issue guilty verdicts in these cases, we should expect to see more real estate commission lawsuits. In order to stop the flow of these accusations of conspiracy, the real estate industry must band together and stand firm against them.
Real estate commissions have always been negotiable. And home buyers and sellers have always had the choice to hire a real estate agent or buy/sell on their own without an agent. As such, it’s clear that there is no conspiracy among real estate brokers, agents, and associations to fix or inflate real estate commissions. But these facts have not discouraged opportunists from raising false allegations, as they reach their hands into the deep pockets of the real estate industry.
In the near future, consumers shouldn’t expect to see any substantive changes to real estate industry practices. Some brokerages and associations may revise contract verbiage or require additional disclosures to ensure that consumers fully understand that real estate commissions are negotiable and that hiring a real estate agent is optional. Due to the length of the appeals process, it may take several years for any significant changes to the real estate industry to take shape, if any changes are deemed necessary.
Although it may be interesting to follow the news of these real estate commission lawsuits, they have no immediate impact on your experience as a home buyer or seller. If you have any questions about how to navigate buying or selling a home in the current real estate market, click the link below to schedule a call.