Missouri Jury Awards $1.8 Billion in Damages Against Realtors and Real Estate Firms
A Missouri jury has delivered a significant verdict, ruling that the National Association of Realtors and several real estate companies owe over $1.7 billion in class-action damages. The jury found that these entities engaged in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the commissions paid by home sellers to buyers’ brokers. This verdict, in a trial held in Kansas City, challenges long-standing practices in the real estate industry, garnering widespread attention.
Under U.S. antitrust law, the awarded damages will be automatically tripled to exceed $5.3 billion. Lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Michael Ketchmark, emphasized the importance of accountability in this decision.
Defendants in the case included Keller Williams and Berkshire Hathaway-owned HomeServices of America, along with two of its subsidiaries. The class-action lawsuit represented sellers of over 260,000 homes in Missouri, parts of Kansas, and Illinois from 2015 to 2012.
HomeServices expressed disappointment and plans to appeal, while Keller Williams is considering options for an appeal, indicating that the legal battle is far from over. The National Association of Realtors also announced its intent to appeal and seek a reduction in the damages awarded.
The plaintiffs argued that these entities conspired to drive up the commissions, sometimes exceeding 6%, paid by home sellers to brokers representing buyers. They characterized this compensation rule as a market-distorting and anti-competitive practice.
In contrast, the National Association of Realtors, Keller Williams, and HomeServices have maintained their innocence throughout the trial. Two other defendants, Re/Max and Anywhere Real Estate, opted for settlements without admitting liability before the trial. These settlements are subject to court approval, with Anywhere Real Estate agreeing to pay $83.5 million, and Re/Max committing to $55 million.