A jury has ruled that real estate agents colluded to maintain high commission rates, resulting in a nearly $1.8 billion penalty. This decision, which is a significant blow to brokerages and the industry trade association, could potentially disrupt the home-sale sector.
The ruling is the first of two significant antitrust lawsuits aimed at challenging long-standing industry practices, with the goal of reducing commissions and altering the way agents are paid. The two-week trial involved allegations from home sellers in several Midwestern states, with the jury reaching its verdict after only a few hours of deliberation.
According to antitrust regulations, the presiding judge has the authority to triple the damages verdict, which could exceed $5 billion. The plaintiffs have also requested that the judge mandate changes to the industry’s operations.
The National Association of Realtors has been battling claims from U.S. antitrust officials and private litigants for several years, alleging that it has conspired to keep home-sale costs high amidst significant technological changes. This verdict represents the association’s most significant setback to date.
A spokesperson for NAR stated, “This matter is not close to being final as we will appeal the jury’s verdict.”
Read more at The Wall Street Journal.