The copycat lawsuits are pouring in now, with attorneys from across the country looking to get their piece.  The latest, called Batton 2 (other versions were filed previously), is for buyers from the last 27 years:

“All persons who, since December 1, 1996 through the present, purchased in the Indirect Purchaser States residential real estate that was listed on an NAR MLS.” For this class, the plaintiffs are asking for damages under “antitrust, unfair competition, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws.”

The class will include millions of people! If NAR goes out of business (which is likely), it won’t change much because we’ll still have state and local associations. We’ll have less lobbying, but lower dues!

All plaintiffs have momentum now, and the lead attorney from the first lawsuit doesn’t just want money. “One of our goals in filing the case is to make sure any changes are brought nationwide,” said Ketchmark. “We’re extremely focused on making sure any change that comes from this is real change.”

But the NAR is taking it lightly, just like they have from the beginning:

“We are currently reviewing the new filing, and it appears to be a copycat lawsuit,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s vice president of communications. “We continue to assert that the practice of listing brokers making offers of compensation to buyer brokers is best for consumers. It gives the greatest number of buyers a chance to afford a home and professional representation, while also giving sellers access to the greatest number of buyers.”

Here’s our corporate viewpoint:

Compass spokesperson Devin Daly Huerta said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but provided comments from the company’s earnings call on Monday, saying the company “will respond accordingly to the complaints filed against us at the appropriate time” and that the company feels “confident that Compass is well-positioned.”

Compass pointed to rule changes at Northwest MLS that made listing broker compensation to buyer brokers optional and didn’t result in any decrease of offers of compensation or the amounts offered. “So we have evidence in a major U.S. market of what this change might look like that gives us confidence,” the company said.

“Secondly, we believe we are positioned well because we have the combination of some of the most productive agents and the only end to end technology platform in our industry. Third, we currently have agents that successfully ask their buyers to sign buyer broker agreements in order to work with them. We are in the process of launching trainings to all of our agents to empower them to successfully get buyer broker agreements signed with their buyers.

“Lastly, we operate largely in the luxury segment, where we think buyers will always want the help of an advisor through their home-buying journey.”

Similar statements from other brokerages are downplaying the impact. Yes, we will probably have better presentations of what realtors do and why we are worth the money, but anyone who thinks that will fix everything will be sorely disappointed. Consumers will be empowered to consider other options.

The only people who think that buyer-agents are needed are the agents. Buyers find homes for sale online, and they are proud about finding them before their agent does. They wonder why they need their own agent, when they can just contact the listing agent. The listing agents will be enouraging those thoughts!

Here’s a paragraph from the red team – the first to publicly mimic my prediction:

But if buyers’ agents become less common, Redfin will prosper in that world too. We run the largest brokerage website in America. We’ve built self-service technology for buyers to set up their own tours and to make offers. We’ll use that technology to market the properties listed by our agents directly to consumers, taking market share from other brokerages. We may open that platform to other listing agents who work with us as partners.

This is an opportunity for major changes to be implemented on how homes are sold, and these lawsuits are the disruption device. Realtors will roll out fancier graphics that tout the status quo, leaving it wide open for new ideas. Zillow and Homes.com have surged ahead of what should have been the dominant search portal, realtor.com, which NAR also screwed up when they sold it to an outside company.

Zillow has been amassing the pieces to build a super app, and create one-stop shopping for homes. If they add an auction component, it will be O-V-E-R for realtors.

author avatar
Jim the Realtor

Pin It on Pinterest