BAM Key Details:

  •  A class-action antitrust lawsuit, known as the Phillips suit, has been filed by home sellers in Georgia, targeting both local and national real estate companies, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
  • Similar to other copycat industry lawsuits, the plaintiffs allege a conspiracy within the real estate industry to inflate agent commissions. 
  • UPDATE: An amended complaint was filed Wednesday, December 6, naming several new defendants, as well as three new plaintiffs.

A new commissions lawsuit emerged last week, with a new class-action antitrust lawsuit filed by home sellers in Georgia. 

The latest complaint, known as the Phillips suit, targets several local and national real estate companies, along with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Similar to Sitzer/Burnett and other copycat industry lawsuits, the plaintiffs allege there is a conspiracy within the real estate industry to inflate agent commissions. The complaint states:

“This case involves a nationwide conspiracy by and between the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”) and residential real estate brokerages orchestrated to increase broker compensation at the expense of home sellers, including Georgia home sellers—the Plaintiffs in this action—by requiring home sellers to shoulder both the commission of their listing agents and the commission of the buyer’s agent when properties are listed on the ubiquitous Multiple Listings Service (the “MLS”).”

Phillips Lawsuit: Plaintiffs

The latest lawsuit was brought forth by home seller plaintiffs who have all sold at least one property in the past four years. 

  • Janet Phillips
  • Joseph Hunt
  • Edith Anne Hunt
  • Penny Scheetz
  • Benjamin Aune
  • Parkwood Living, LLC

An amended complaint, filed on Wednesday, December 6, added three new plaintiffs:

  • 125 Hooper LLC
  • Robert Arko
  • Andrew Moore

The plaintiffs assert that this alleged collusion has had a direct impact on their transactions. The lawsuit points to a pattern of behavior among industry players that, according to the plaintiffs, “obliges sellers to bear excessive costs for services rendered,” inflates buyer brokers’ commissions, and stifles competition. 

Phillips Lawsuit: Defendants

The complaint names several large industry players, many of which are involved with other lawsuits. But this suit isn’t just after the big names. It also includes several local real estate firms, along with subsidiaries of RE/MAX HomeServices of America. Defendants include:

  • National Association of Realtors
  • HomeServices of America
  • Sotheby’s
  • Keller Williams
  • RE/MAX
  • Compass
  • Anywhere Real Estate
  • Engel & Völkers
  • Christie’s International Real Estate Group
  • HomeSmart
  • Ansley Atlanta Real Estate
  • Solid Source Realty
  • Higher Tech Realty
  • Hamilton Dorsey Alston Company
  • Beacham & Company
  • Atlanta Fine Homes
  • HomeServices Georgia Properties
  • Harry Norman Realtors

New defendants added with the amended complaint filed on Wednesday, December 6, include—

  • 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
  • Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage
  • Anywhere brand, ERA Franchise System
  • Weichert of North America
  • eXp Realty
  • Redfin 

In addition to damages and a jury trial, plaintiffs are looking for a permanent injunction that would prevent any of the defendants from “requiring that sellers pay buyer brokers.”

If granted class-action status, the suit would include anyone who listed a property for sale on an MLS in Georgia and paid a buyer broker commission between November 22, 2019, and present. 

Stay tuned for more details, and bookmark BAM’s Lawsuit Watch for the latest on the industry’s biggest legal battles.