Anywhere Real Estate and RE/MAX got a nod from a judge on proposed settlements in three major commission lawsuits as some of their brokerage peers gear up for a long legal fight.
A judge in the Western District of Missouri preliminarily approved both brokerages’ settlements, Inman reported. The decision launches the next legal process, the notification of homesellers covered by the classes in three separate lawsuits. Final approval could come in the middle of next year.
The settlements cover the Sitzer/Burnett, Moehrl and Nosalek cases. The first of those resulted in a billion-dollar defeat for the defendants — including the National Association of Realtors, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America — which have vowed to appeal.
All of the cases revolve around the residential real estate commissions model, in which NAR requires sellers’ agents to offer compensation to buyers’ agents. The plaintiffs in these cases, which were brough by groups of homesellers, have alleged the practice violates antitrust statutes.
Anywhere agreed in September to pay $83.5 million to settle both Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl. The parent company of Corcoran, Coldwell Banker, Century21 and Sotheby’s International Realty also agreed to change practices regarding commissions and broker involvement in NAR.
Two weeks later, RE/MAX also settled the cases, agreeing to pay $55 million. The brokerage also agreed to changing its practices, including lifting the requirement for sellers to pay buyers’ agents’ commissions.
A judge last month endorsed a notion to stay the Nosalek case, which centers on a New England multiple listing service. Inman reported the move allows plaintiffs to be included in the “substantive terms” of the Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl settlements.
Meanwhile, NAR and the two brokerage defendants left from Sitzer/Burnett are gearing up for a fight. NAR and Keller Williams both retained former U.S. solicitors general to be part of their appeal teams after a Kansas City jury found the defendants guilty of colluding to inflate broker costs, elevating home seller costs and violating antitrust laws.
The verdict included a $1.8 billion judgment against the defendants, which could be trebled by the judge’s final decision to $5.4 billion.
— Holden Walter-Warner