Jury orders NAR and brokerages to pay $1.78 billion in damages related to buyer broker commissions.
On 31 October, a Missouri jury found the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and other major brokerages guilty of collusion related to buyer broker commissions in the Sitzer/Burnett buyer broker commission lawsuit (Burnett vs. NAR et. al). This verdict comes at the end of a two-plus week trial where the plaintiffs asserted, in part, that requiring sellers to offer compensation to buyer’s brokers essentially forces sellers to pay inflated broker fees.
Two other named defendant brokerages in the Sitzer/Burnett case, Anywhere and RE/MAX, previously announced settlements for this case along with the separate Moerhl class action lawsuit (Moerhl vs. NAR et. al). Shortly after the verdict was announced, the plaintiff’s attorneys in the Sitzer/Burnett suit also filed a separate suit against several additional brokerages that were not defendants in the initial case.
Judge Stephen Bough still needs to issue final judgement in the Sitzer/Burnett case based on the jury’s verdict. According to statements reported by Housing Wire, case defendants have either directly stated or have alluded to appealing the jury’s verdict and asking for a reduction in case damages.
The Sitzer/Burnett case is one of multiple legal cases in the United States that could dramatically impact the U.S. real estate industry and how commissions are handled for all types of transactions, including relocations. Worldwide ERC (WERC) will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates as they are available.
Michael T. Jackson is the vice president of member engagement and public policy at WERC. Jay Hershman, SCRP, is an attorney with Baillie and Hershman, P.C. and the past chair of WERC’s North American real estate and mortgage policy forum.