A recent lawsuit has caught the attention of the Texas real estate community, targeting numerous real estate organizations and brokerages. The lawsuit, brought by QJ Team and Five Points Holdings, alleges that the common practice of sellers’ agents compensating buyers’ agents for listing properties on MLS violates antitrust laws and is the result of a hidden collaboration. The defendants include well-known associations such as the Texas Association of Realtors and the Houston Association of Realtors, as well as prominent firms like Ebby Halliday and Keller Williams. While the lawsuit has created a buzz, the local trade associations have remained relatively quiet on the matter.
Individual brokers who are engaged in discussions are not necessarily afraid. According to Ben Caballero, the owner of HomesUSA, the case and claims made by the plaintiffs are weak. He believes that situations like this can take on a life of their own and influence public opinion.
While those who are named in the lawsuit have chosen to remain silent, there are rumors within the industry that firms have brokers who are meeting in closed rooms to explain the details of the case. Agents have also been talking to their clients about the lawsuit, trying to stay ahead of the news while waiting for guidance from their association boards.
The Houston Association of Realtors has acknowledged the lawsuit in an email sent to its more than 31,000 members. However, the association has limited its comments on the matter. The email describes the Texas lawsuit as one of many “copycat lawsuits” that have been filed following a verdict in Kansas City, Missouri.
The email states that there will be certain things that the association cannot say or comment on, which may be frustrating for its members. However, they assure their members that they will be as transparent as possible and share any updates as soon as they can.
Emily Chenevert, the CEO of Austin Board Realtors, chose not to provide any comments regarding the ongoing legal dispute. Instead, she emphasized the organization’s dedication to serving its 20,000 members and advocating for the rights of property owners and homebuyers in Central Texas. On the other hand, industry insiders expressed their opinions about the lawsuit more critically, indicating a rising hostility towards the numerous legal challenges aimed at disrupting the real estate industry.
Lawsuits with similar claims have been filed in various states including New York, South Carolina, and Illinois. Interestingly, some brokers have taken to The Real Deal’s Instagram page to express their opinions against these lawsuits.
“I can’t believe they are complaining about commission costs when they probably already factored in a six percent commission into their financial projections. It’s ridiculous,” commented David Burck, an agent from Compass based in Palm Beach.
“Once you agree to pay a commission to a listing agent, it’s up to them whether they want to share it with the buyer’s agent. After all, it helps bring qualified buyers to sell the property,” wrote Orlando Alpizar, a Compass agent from South Florida.
The potential impact of this lawsuit on the Texas real estate market is causing quite a stir, with some even speculating about future outcomes and entertaining conspiracy theories.
Caballero pointed out that judges, juries, and attorneys are not only involved in legal matters but also in selling homes. He compared them to a united union that works together to bring about change. Caballero believes that they have the potential to join forces and bring down the expenses associated with selling a home.
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