Commissions on trial and a courthouse exterior with columns.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Gary Keller says there’s no such thing as a standard commission 

Testimony from the KW co-founder as well as President Marc King closed out week 2 of Sitzer/Burnett, with both leaders denying a conspiracy.

October 27, 2023
2 minutes

Key points:

  • Keller was questioned at length about commission rates, at one point remarking that he felt personally attacked by the plaintiffs’ attorney.
  • He called the idea of standard 6% commissions a “mythical animal” and said KW does not set commission rates for its agents.
  • King presented a similar narrative, saying there is no company mandate around commissions.
  • Jury deliberations could begin as early as Monday afternoon.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two weeks into the Sitzer/Burnett buyer-broker commissions trial, the defense wrapped up much of its case.

Friday was focused on testimony from Keller Williams, one of the three remaining defendants, and — despite some aggressive questioning — the tone in the courtroom was a bit calmer compared to the sometimes accusatory cross-examinations and emotional testimony seen earlier in the week. 

Keller Williams Co-founder Gary Keller took the stand in the morning, calling the idea of a standard 6% commission a "mythical animal" and arguing that there is no such standard. Under pointed cross examination, Keller stuck to his original testimony, reiterating that no conspiracy has taken place and KW doesn't require agents to charge 6% commissions. 

At one point, Keller remarked that he felt he was being personally attacked by the plaintiffs' attorney, Michael Ketchmark, rather than being questioned about the brokerage itself.

Keller also testified that he never said "collusion theory" was responsible for keeping commission rates stable, a topic brought up last week when former KW industry analyst Michelle Figgs took the stand. Figgs testified about notes she had taken that suggested Keller "believes strongly in collusion theory for why commissions are stable."

Keller was questioned about presentations at events like the KW Family Reunion, where Keller has spoken about commissions — seemingly against company policy. In taped depositions presented to the jury last week, Keller said he was "offended" by the line of questioning. During his live testimony Friday, Keller drew a distinction between presenting data about commissions to an audience versus having one-on-one conversations about commission rates.

KW President Marc King also testified Friday afternoon and followed a similar narrative, insisting that the company has no involvement when it comes to setting or negotiating commissions.

On Monday, a short additional piece of testimony is expected, followed by closing arguments from the plaintiffs and defense. Depending on the length of the arguments, the jury could start deliberating as early as Monday afternoon.

Want to know more? Follow all of our Sitzer/Burnett trial coverage here.

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