The president of the National Association of Realtors addressed its members this week to double down on the trade group’s rules ahead of more litigation on broker commissions.
Tracy Kasper spoke to Realtors for the first time one week after a Kansas City jury in the Sitzer/Burnett trial found the group and two brokerages guilty of colluding over commissions.
At the center of the suit was NAR’s cooperative compensation policy, which requires listing brokers to offer compensation to buyer brokers in order to use a Realtor-affiliated multiple listing service.
In the five-minute video posted online and first reported by Inman, Kasper held the trade group’s line on the rule and told members to “maximize transparency” around payment with clients. She emphasized the importance of sharing that commissions are negotiable, a key point of contention in the broker commissions decision, which NAR is appealing.
Kasper expressed disappointment in the ruling, saying “plaintiffs tried to portray this outcome as a win for consumers, but those of us in the industry know the opposite is true.” She encouraged members to “express the incredible value” Realtors provide to buyers and sellers.
Kasper added that this is only one chapter “in a very long legal process,” telling members to prepare for more legal developments, including a possible court order “that changes the rules about cooperative compensation.”
Antitrust lawsuits over broker commissions are piling up. A lawsuit in Illinois known as Moehrl is nearly identical to Sizter/Burnett, including naming NAR, Keller Williams and HomeServices of America as defendants. However, the suit, which is headed for trial early next year, could result in damages up to $40 billion.
The Justice Department is also waiting in the wings, holding discussions with Michael Ketchmark, the plaintiffs’ attorney in Sitzer/Burnett, as it weighs a case of its own against NAR. Ketchmark is still going after NAR, too, filing another lawsuit immediately after his clients were awarded $1.78 billion in damages in Sitzer/Burnett.
— Holden Walter-Warner