Las Vegas Realtors responds to commission conspiracy claims – Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Las Vegas Realtors has made its first public statement concerning two copycat federal class-action lawsuits filed in Nevada claiming the association artificially inflated commissions.

“As emphasized numerous times for many years by the National Association of Realtors and others, the compensation and commissions involved in a residential real estate transaction are negotiable between real estate agents and their clients,” LVR President Merri Perry said in a statement posted on the website of the state’s largest Realtor trade association.

National Association of Realtors policies “strictly” prohibit real estate associations from setting commissions or fees, Perry said. The NAR will continue to “aggressively oppose any lawsuits or allegations to the contrary.”

Both lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court of Nevada this year allege various real estate agents, realty groups, associations and the NAR conspired to artificially inflate commissions via the Multiple Listings Service — where virtually all properties are listed for sale.

More than 20 copycat lawsuits that have popped up across the country since a federal jury in Kansas City, Missouri, found the NAR and several residential brokerages liable in October for $1.78 billion in damages for conspiring to artificially inflate commissions on residential home sales.

Currently, the NAR, which has more than 1.2 million members, controls the MLS and has a Buyer Broker Commission Rule, which requires all home sellers to use an agent and agree to their nonnegotiable commission to list a property on the MLS.

According to LVR, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is considering whether to consolidate the different lawsuits, and a decision is expected this spring. The association said the lawsuits filed against it are “entirely without merit.”

“All that we have done is to require that some specific offer of compensation be made by the listing broker to the MLS participant who produces the buyer for the listed property. Previously that offer could be as little as one cent. Recently, we changed our rule to permit the listing broker to offer zero to the successful buyer broker. We have never attempted to dictate, or even to suggest, how much should be offered in cooperative compensation beyond a single cent.

“We believe that our conduct has been, and continues to be, entirely lawful — and that it promotes efficiency in real estate transactions for the benefit of sellers and buyers alike. For that reason, we will vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

Two separate real estate agents confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Department of Justice officials were in Las Vegas on numerous occasions issuing subpoenas and interviewing brokers prior to the COVID-19 pandemic related to commissions charged by brokerages. One confirmed they were interviewed by DOJ officials.

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at [email protected].

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