Florida commissions lawsuit targets largest state association
The Florida Association of Realtors and 16 brokerages are named in the seventh major antitrust case filed by home sellers since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict.
It's time to add Florida to the list of areas being hit with buyer agent commission lawsuits. This week, the Florida Association of Realtors — the largest statewide association in the U.S. with more than 223,000 members — and multiple brokerage companies were named in a new suit seeking class action status.
The details: Filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County, this potential class action case accuses Florida Realtors and 16 of the largest real estate brokerages in the state of enforcing anti-competitive restraints that cause home sellers to pay inflated commissions, according to the court documents.
"This is a case for Floridians about the MLS rules in Florida and their effect on real estate commissions in Florida," said Jorge Piedra, an attorney for the plaintiff, in an email to Real Estate News.
In addition to the association, defendants include United Realty Group, Florida Realty of Miami, The Keyes Company and more than a dozen other firms.
In a statement, Florida Realtors General Counsel Juana Watkins denied the allegations in the complaint and said the association will defend itself against them.
"Florida Realtors stands by the value of the professional expertise that its members provide to their clients," Watkins said, adding they won't be commenting further on pending litigation.
It's the seventh major case filed by home sellers against real estate brokerages and associations since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict on Oct. 31. An eighth case making similar claims was filed by homebuyers.
In the 11th Circuit Court, the case will be assigned to the Complex Business Litigation department, which handles cases where potential damages exceed $750,000.
Who filed the complaint: The class representative in this case is Parker Holding Group, a firm based in Panama City which sold homes in 2021.
Members would include Florida residents who paid a commission to one of the named brokerage companies while selling a home that was listed on an MLS the past four years.
What this case is about: It's similar to the nine other major cases involving home sellers paying buyer agent commissions, with plaintiffs alleging that the rules in place kept commission prices high.
While not listed as a defendant, the complaint cited rules created by the National Association of Realtors as the reason commission fees are inflated.
"The conspiracy has substantially reduced competition in the markets for buyer agent services and seller-broker commissions to the detriment of home sellers in Florida," the complaint stated.