flag and scales of justice

New lawsuits crop up to challenge agent compensation 

Cases in South Carolina, New York and Chicago pit consumers against NAR, REBNY, Keller Williams and other top real estate companies.

November 10, 2023
2 minutes

In the wake of the Sitzer/Burnett verdict, it appears to be open season on the agent compensation system as more homebuyers and homesellers are filing cases.

What's new in South Carolina: Shauntell Burton filed a complaint this week against the National Association of Realtors and Keller Williams in U.S. District Court in South Carolina's Spartanburg division.

Burton's attorneys allege that NAR and KW are "conspiring to impose and enforce an anticompetitive restraint that requires home sellers to pay the broker representing the buyer of their homes, and to pay an inflated amount, in violation of federal antitrust law."

Burton is seeking a class action lawsuit that would include homesellers across South Carolina.

What's new in New York City: The Real Estate Board of New York and a host of real estate companies are facing a lawsuit over commission fees. According to court documents filed this week in New York City, the suit focuses on deals done in Manhattan and has Monty March listed as the class representative. It will include Manhattan home sellers in the last four years.

REBNY recently took steps to change its rules, with plans to prevent listing agents from paying broker agents starting in January.

This case could result in significant damages, given that the Manhattan real estate market is one of the most expensive in the world. In court documents the plaintiffs estimate residential real estate sales in Manhattan topped $7 billion in the first three months of 2022.

What's new in Chicago: Attorneys for Leeder/Batton filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois on Nov. 2 naming Compass, eXp, Redfin, Weichert Realtors, United Real Estate Group, Howard Hanna and Douglas Elliman as defendants. The claims are similar to those made in the Sitzer/Burnett and Moehrl cases, but in this case, known as Batton 2, the plaintiffs are buyers, rather than sellers, who say they have overpaid.

The plaintiff may sound familiar: The Leeder case was originally filed in 2021 and named NAR, HomeServices of America, Anywhere, Keller Williams and RE/MAX as defendants. The case was dismissed in May 2022, but an amended complaint was filed. In dismissing the original case, the court ruled that homebuyers were "indirect purchasers" of commission fees, so antitrust law wouldn't apply.

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