New Texas commissions lawsuit names more than 40 defendants
This is the second lawsuit challenging buyer agent compensation to be filed in the state in just over a month and includes many of the same players.
Brokerages and associations in Texas are once again being hit by a buyer agent commission antitrust lawsuit following a similar suit filed on behalf of Texas home sellers in November.
The details: In a class-action complaint filed by three home sellers on Dec. 14, a long list of brokerages and real estate associations are being accused of a conspiracy to keep commission fees inflated, similar to the charges in the Sitzer/Burnett case and a flood of others that have been filed since the jury announced their verdict favoring the plaintiffs in Sitzer/Burnett.
The plaintiffs: The latest case was filed in the U.S. District Court's Eastern District of Texas by plaintiff class representatives Julie Martin, Mark Adams and Adelaida Matta. Martin sold one property paying a 3% commission to a buyer agent, while Adams and Matta sold several properties and also paid a 3% buyer agent commission.
Class members would include all sellers in Texas who used any defendant as the listing broker for the sale of a home on a multiple listing service and paid a commission to the buyer's broker over the past four years. Keller Williams is an exception — because they are part of the Moehrl case, which covers home sales in 2019-2020, the new filing would apply to sales brokered by KW in Texas that occurred the last two years.
The defendants: There are more than 40 defendants named in the complaint, including the Texas Association of Realtors, Austin Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America — who are also named in the QJ Team suit filed on Nov. 13. The National Association of Realtors, Anywhere Real Estate and RE/MAX are named as co-conspirators.
Also named as a defendant is Square MB, LLC, which does business as Magnolia Realty and was founded by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines in 2007.
This is the ninth major reported antitrust case filed by home sellers since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict on Oct. 31. There are now more than a dozen major cases challenging the existing buyer-broker compensation system.
Other claims: In addition to the federal antitrust allegations, the plaintiffs have accused defendants Moreland Properties, MJHM LLC, and ATC Metro Properties, Inc. of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
The QJ Team lawsuit also leverages the DTPA, accusing real estate teams Hexagon Group and The Michael Group of violating the act.