From NAR Legal Counsel, Katie Johnson, regarding the current status of lawsuits pertaining to MLS operation…
As we continue to provide updates on the Moehrl v. NAR lawsuit, I wanted to let you know the judge denied our motion to dismiss and the case will proceed to the next phase of the litigation, discovery.
We are very disappointed in the ruling. However, this is only the first round. As the case moves forward, we intend to demonstrate how the MLS system creates competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers as well as small business brokerages. The MLS fosters cooperation between brokers providing the best and greatest number of options for buyers and sellers. The broker commission structure also ensures greater access for first-time, low-income and many other home buyers who otherwise couldn’t afford a home purchase. We are confident that when the case is ultimately decided, we will prevail.
There have been no changes to the copycat Sitzer v. NAR lawsuit, which is also in discovery. We will continue to keep you informed as the litigation progresses.
Talking Points for Members
- The MLS system and the way commissions are paid create competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers, sellers and small business. The MLS system creates a highly efficient residential real estate market that fosters cooperation between brokers to the benefit of consumers. Commission structures (including how the listing broker pays the buyer broker) ensure greater access for a large community of home buyers who might otherwise be priced out of the market, which also would limit options for sellers.
- REALTORS® are champions of homeownership, property rights and the communities they serve. Every REALTOR® adheres to a strict code of ethics based on professionalism, consumer protection and the golden rule. REALTORS® draw on their unmatched knowledge to help buyers and sellers navigate one of the most complicated financial transactions of their lives. And REALTORS® are engaged neighbors committed to building and enhancing the communities they serve.
- Local, expert brokers play a crucial role in helping buyers and sellers achieve their goals. Given the volume of information buyers have to navigate and the complexity of this transaction, buyer brokers serve many essential, highly informed roles ranging from scheduling home tours and inspections to coordinating with lenders and appraisers to coordinating attorney reviews and closing documents. Consumers agree: 78 percent of homebuyers say their broker was an important information source, and almost 90 percent would recommend their broker to a family member or friend.
- These lawsuits are wrong on the facts, wrong on the economics, and wrong on the law. Commissions are negotiable and, in fact, can be negotiated at any point during the transaction. The MLS and associated brokerage system create highly competitive markets with increased transaction volume and superior customer service. Consumers have many choices of different service and fee models among many brokers. Over 100 years, the courts have repeatedly validated this pro-competitive, pro-consumer MLS system, recognizing it increases the efficiency of the market and thus serves the best interests of sellers and buyers alike.