The National Association of Realtors has just unveiled its strategic plan to conquer the groundbreaking Sitzer/Burnett lawsuit, a case that could potentially revolutionize the way agents are compensated. Their argument is clear: sellers willingly sign agreements that explicitly state who will receive payment for their services. The NAR wants to emphasize that they never force anyone into any actions, nor do they dictate commission rates. They vehemently deny any allegations of a “conspiracy.”
However, if the current jury in Missouri remains unconvinced by the NAR’s arguments, what other options do the association and the remaining defendants have? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Nevertheless, these alternative paths come with their own unique challenges and considerations.
One intriguing avenue to explore is questioning the suitability of the plaintiffs themselves. After all, the lawsuits primarily involve home sellers, but one could argue that these sellers haven’t actually suffered any harm. It is the buyers who ultimately bear the financial burden of agent fees.
Ed Zorn, the esteemed chief counsel for California Regional MLS and a reputable broker based in Knoxville, provides a compelling example to support this notion. Zorn recounts a scenario where he successfully completed four for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) transactions last year. In one particular case, he had a representation agreement with a buyer and stood to earn a 2% commission, amounting to a substantial $10,000 on a $500,000 transaction. Zorn proposed a clever solution to the seller: by incorporating the commission into the sales price, it could be financed. He approached the seller and asked, “Do you mind if we adjust the price from $500k to $510k?” The seller nonchalantly replied, “I don’t mind. It’s the same to me either way, right?” Exactly. Regardless of the adjusted price, the seller still receives $500,000, while the buyer fulfills their commitment to pay the agreed-upon commission.
Zorn asserts that there are numerous similar tactics that can be employed to showcase the true nature of agent fees. By highlighting the fact that sellers aren’t directly affected by these fees, the NAR and the remaining defendants can challenge the validity of the plaintiffs’ claims. It’s a strategic move that could potentially sway the jury in their favor.
In the face of adversity, the National Association of Realtors remains steadfast in their pursuit of justice. With their strategic plan in place and alternative paths to explore, they are determined to overcome the challenges posed by the Sitzer/Burnett lawsuit.
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