Today, on February 1st, 2024, one of the three defendants in Sitzer/Burnett—Keller Williams—has agreed to settle with the plaintiffs for $70 million. 

According to KW spokesperson, Darryl Frost, the brokerage notified the federal court in Missouri that it has bowed out of Sitzer/Burnett via a settlement agreement that will cost them far less in damages and will release all KW-associated individual agents and franchisees from copycat lawsuits filed since last October. 

Per their statement, the agreement settles all home seller commission lawsuits nationwide. 

This will not impact our operations or our ability to support our franchisees and agents.

Darryl Frost

Keller Williams spokesperson

Read on for the highlights. 

Gary Keller shares his relief

In an email to KW leaders, agents, and associates, Gary Keller wrote to express his relief “that we have negotiated a nationwide settlement of the Sitzer/Burnett case.” 

We are thankful that this settlement provides our agents and franchisees with much-needed relief, stability, and freedom from distraction while preserving their ability to run their businesses independently. As we move past this settled lawsuit, all of us at Keller Williams are focused on what we do best: empowering our entrepreneurs to continue delivering exceptional value in this rapidly evolving market.

Gary Keller

KW executive chairman and co-founder

While we don’t yet know the exact terms of the settlement, Keller did share that it “releases individual agents and franchisees from copycat litigation filed in the wake of Sitzer/Burnett.” 

Also in the email, Keller explained the company’s decision to enter into a settlement. 

We had full confidence in the strength of our appeal. But we also knew the appellate process could be long and unpredictable – and that our franchisees and agents would have no protection and complete uncertainty while that process played out over time. Our Keller Williams family needs and deserves protection now, not later.

We came to the decision to settle with careful consideration for the immediate and long-term well-being of our agents, our franchisees, and the business models they depend on. It was a decision to bring stability, relief, and the freedom for us all to focus on our mission without distractions. It allows us all to turn our attention back to what we do best: delivering unparalleled value in an ever-evolving real estate market.

Gary Keller

KW executive chairman and co-founder

So, Keller Williams now joins Anywhere and RE/MAX in settling with the Sitzer/Burnett plaintiffs, leaving the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and HomeServices of America as the two remaining defendants. 

Judge Stephen Bough has given his preliminary approval on the settlement agreements for both Anywhere and RE/MAX. A final hearing for those first two settlements is set for May 9, 2024. 

Last October 31 (2023), the jury for the Sitzer/Burnett trial issued a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding damages of $1.7 billion, an already daunting number that federal antitrust rules then tripled to over $5 billion. 

That figure dwarfs the amounts Anywhere ($83.5 million) and RE/MAX ($55 million) agreed to in their pre-trial settlements. The $70 million agreed to by Keller Williams puts them just about squarely in the middle. 

What’s next for the last two Sitzer/Burnett defendants?

Time will tell whether HomeServices of America, the lone brokerage on the Sitzer/Burnett defendant list, will follow suit and seek a settlement of their own. 

Meanwhile, NAR has filed a request to consolidate all 19 national copycat commission lawsuits, and that the trial be held in Illinois or Texas rather than Missouri—a change in venue plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Ketchmark is unlikely to support. 

In a statement issued last month, NAR president Kevin Sears said he recognized the significance of the Sitzer/Burnett verdict and comprehends “what is at stake for our members, brokerages, associations, and most importantly, consumers,” adding that NAR leadership “is focused on executing the best strategy moving forward.”

Stay tuned as we learn more about the terms of the Keller Williams settlement, as well as the progress of NAR’s and HomeService’s appeal of Sitzer/Burnett.