BAM Key Details: 

  • Another class-action antitrust lawsuit on buyer broker commissions has been filed—this one naming San Francisco-area associations, BAREIS MLS, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and five national brokerages as defendants. 
  • Home seller Christina Grace is the class representative in a case filed on December 8 in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of California’s San Francisco Division. 
  • The complaint alleges a conspiracy among the defendants to require home sellers to pay buyer agent commissions.

On Friday, December 8, a new class-action antitrust lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of California’s San Francisco Division, with Bay Area home seller Christina Grace as the class representative. 

Among the defendants, the lawsuit names the National Association of Realtors (NAR), San Francisco-area Realtor associations, BAREIS MLS, and five national brokerages. 

Here’s what we know so far.

Grace Case Overview

The plaintiff, Christina Grace, sold a home in April 2020 and paid a total of more than $50,000 in commissions that included a 3.5% fee to the listing agent and 2.5% to the buyer agent

The complaint, known as Grace, filed is similar to those of other major commissions lawsuits that have been filed in the wake of the Sitzer/Burnett verdict. The court documents allege a conspiracy among the defendants to require sellers to pay commissions for the buyer agent as well as the listing broker, ultimately paying “inflated commissions on the sale of their homes.” 

The filing points to rules set forth by BAREIS MLS, a named defendant, alleging that MLS members “were obligated to and did adopt, implement, and enforce anti-competitive restraints,” specifically through policies that required home sellers “to make a blanket, unilateral and non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation.”

Defendants include—

  • The National Association of Realtors (NAR)
  • Anywhere Real Estate
  • RE/MAX
  • Keller Williams
  • Compass
  • eXp
  • The Bay Area Real Estate Information Services (BAREIS)
  • Marin Association of Realtors
  • North Bay Association of Realtors
  • Northern Solano County Association of Realtors
  • Solano Association of Realtors

According to court documents, more than 60,000 real estate professionals use BAREIS, the primary MLS platform for five counties. The filing also notes that Realtor association defendants are part-owners of BAREIS. 

This is the eighth major reported antitrust case filed by U.S. home sellers regarding buyer agent compensation since the Sitzer/Burnett verdict was issued on October 31. 

  1. Gibson (Missouri)
  2. Burton (South Carolina)
  3. March (New York)
  4. QJ Team (Texas)
  5. Phillips (Georgia)
  6. Spring Way (Pennsylvania)
  7. Parker (Florida)
  8. Grace (SF Bay Area)

If granted class-action status, the plaintiff class will represent any person who paid a buyer broker commission fee for a property listed on BAREIS MLS during the last four years. 

Court documents did not specify damages. 

Stay tuned for more as the case develops.