An amended complaint in the Phillips copycat commission lawsuit filed on Wednesday in northern Georgia names a slew of additional defendants, as well as three new plaintiffs.
Originally filed in late November, the Phillips lawsuit accuses real estate industry players of colluding to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions.
Central to the complaint is NAR’s Participation Rule, which requires listing brokers to make a blanket offer of compensation to buyer brokers in order to list a property on the MLS.
“By enforcing this mandate, the NAR establishes an anticompetitive market where sellers are coerced into subsidizing the buyer’s costs. The Defendants advance the conspiracy by annually ratifying the NAR rules, including the Compensation Rule, and by participating in councils and committees that ensure compliance with the NAR rules,” the amended complaint reads.
“As a result of this scheme, the purportedly non-negotiable commissions of buyer agents are rolled into the sale price of homes. This system, with its veiled surcharges, illegally warps the real estate market.”
While the initial complaint named many of the usual big-name real estate players, such as the National Association of Realtors, HomeServices of America, Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Christie’s International Real Estate, Anywhere, Compass, Engel & Völkers and HomeSmart, as well as some of their local franchises and subsidiaries, like PalmerHouse Properties (HomeSmart) and RE/MAX Metro Atlanta.
The amended complaint also names several local independent brokerages, including: Beacham & Company, Tracey Cousineau Real Estate, Sander Realty Holdings, The Justin Landis Group, Chapman Hall Realtors, Signature Properties Group, Method Real Estate Advisors, Path & Post Real Estate, Duckworth Properties, AF Realty Group, Maximum One Realty and Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage. AF Realty Group is the smallest of the new defendants with just 15 agents, according to the complaint.
In addition to all of the local firms named, the amended complaint also added Anywhere brand, ERA Franchise System to the defendants list, as well as Weichert of North America, eXp Realty and Redfin.
The amended complaint also named three new plaintiffs, 125 Hooper LLC, Robert Arko and Andrew Moore, who all sold homes in the state between December 2019 and the present.
While this lawsuit is certainly not the only one making collusion allegations against many of the large national brokerages, it has one of the more robust lists of local brokerages as defendants.
In the month and a half since a jury in Missouri found the real estate industry liable for colluding to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions in the Sitzer/Burnett trial, several copycat commission lawsuits are in play. This week alone two new lawsuits were filed in Florida and Pennsylvania.