Court Awards $1.8 Billion in Damages in Massive Fraud Case

( – Prospective home buyers received some good news after a major case against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found they were guilty of conspiring to artificially inflate commissions. Commissions are already dropping across the country in response to the ruling.

Another class action lawsuit was filed in South Carolina recently, accusing NAR and another large brokerage firm, Keller Williams Realty, of similarly colluding to keep commissions high. The suit seeks class-action status and invites all sellers who used a broker affiliated with Keller Williams and had their home listen on NAR’s Multiple Listing Services (MLS) from November 2019 forward.

The new lawsuit follows a Missouri case that found NAR and other brokerages guilty of conspiring the inflate their rates. The court awarded $1.8 billion in damages which may be tripled to over $5 billion, if the court determines they violated antitrust laws.

Real estate commissions have traditionally floated around 5-6% of the value of the selling property’s final price and that amount is split evenly between the agent representing the seller and the buyer.

The suits have claimed that NAR’s policies, including how it uses the MLS to obscure commission values from buyers and sellers, are anti-competitive and have no economic benefit for anyone except brokers. Realtors have also been accused of lying about the value of their commissions by the Department of Justice. The firms involved have denied all wrongdoing and have stated their intention to appeal unfavorable verdicts.

NAR president Tracy Kasper said the matter is still pending before the courts and they will appeal until their options are exhausted, a process that could continue for several years. Kasper further said they maintain their rules to best service consumer interests while ensuring fair business practices.

NAR CEO Bob Goldberg will not be a part of that process, however, he’s leaving the company at the end of November.

An attorney for plaintiffs in the Missouri case suggested realtors were “desperate” to maintain control over a system they were able to legally rig against consumers for decades.

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