ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A federal jury found the National Association of Realtors and several large residential brokerages liable for damages in a case that could alter the home-buying process in the United States.
A federal Kansas City jury found that the groups had conspired to keep commissions paid to real estate agents artificially high.
The suit covered home sales between April 2015 and June 2022 and said the NAR required sellers to make a nonnegotiable commission offer before they could list their property on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
The 5 to 6 percent commission is paid to the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. If the sellers do not agree to the commission, the property would go virtually unseen in the market, according to attorney Michael Ketchmark, The Washington Post reported.
The rule stifled competition and resulted in higher prices, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued. In countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Australia, real estate commissions average 1 to 3 percent.
Nearly $2 billion in damages were awarded as a result of the suit, but the total penalty could triple to more than $5 billion, due to U.S. antitrust laws.
Analysts have said that the verdict could cause a major change in the entire industry.
Connor Brown, the CEO of the Northwest Illinois Alliance of Realtors, said he expects the housing market to stay the same.
“There is a professional service performed in these real estate transaction costs. We also know that, on average, ‘for sale by owners’ sell by 30% less than one sold by a realtor, so having them involved in that transaction is not only critical for our entire real estate economy but it’s also the best benefit for the consumer,” Brown said.
An NAR spokesperson said it would appeal the verdict.