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Bay Area MLS, national brokerages hit with new commissions suit 

Another buyer-broker commissions lawsuit, filed Dec. 8, names NAR, San Francisco-area associations, BAREIS MLS and five national brokerages.

December 11, 2023
2 minutes

Brokerages, associations and an MLS serving the San Francisco Bay Area are the latest organizations to be hit with a buyer agent commission class action lawsuit as the number of new court cases continues to grow.

The details: Home-seller Christina Grace is the class representative in a new commissions complaint, filed in U.S. District Court's Northern District of California's San Francisco Division on Dec. 8. 

It is similar to the flood of other major buyer-broker commissions antitrust cases filed in recent weeks, alleging that defendants have "conspired and continue to conspire to restrain trade by causing home sellers to pay buyer broker fees and inflated commissions on the sale of their homes," according to court documents.

The filing highlights rules set forth by BAREIS MLS, a defendant in the case, noting that MLS members "were obligated to and did adopt, implement, and enforce anticompetitive restraints," specifically rules requiring home sellers "to make a blanket, unilateral and non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation."

Grace sold a house in April 2020, paying a 3.5% commission fee to the listing agent and 2.5% to the buyer agent, totalling more than $50,000.

This is now the eighth major reported antitrust case filed by home sellers since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict on Oct. 31.

The defendants: A mix of associations and brokerages are named in the suit. The defendant list includes the National Association of Realtors, Anywhere Real Estate, RE/MAX, Keller Williams, Compass, eXp, the Bay Area Real Estate Information Services, Marin Association of Realtors, North Bay Association of Realtors, Northern Solano County Association of Realtors and Solano Association of Realtors.

BAREIS is the primary MLS platform for five counties, used by more than 60,000 real estate professionals, according to the documents. The filing notes that the Realtor association defendants are part-owners of the MLS.

Scope of the case: The complaint is seeking class action status for any person who paid a buyer-broker commission for a property listed on BAREIS MLS in the last four years. The court document did not specify damages.

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