Letters offer brokerage clients piece of $209M Sitzer settlement

The piper is on his way to markets served by Keller Williams, Re/Max and Anywhere.

Letters offering shares of a $208.5 million settlement are being sent to former clients potentially harmed by anticompetitive practices exposed by the Sitzer vs. Burnett antitrust lawsuit.

Clients are eligible to submit a claim if they sold a home during certain periods between April 29, 2014, and Feb. 1, on a qualified MLS. The date range for eligibility depends on which MLS was used, according to a press release from JND Legal Administration.

Claim forms can be submitted online until May 9, 2025.

“Both sides agree that by settling, Anywhere, Re/Max and Keller Williams are not admitting any liability or that they did anything wrong,” states the release.

But they’re paying a tidy sum after a Missouri jury decided in October that requiring sellers to pay buy-side commissions inflated prices and violated antitrust laws. The $208.5 million is the total of the three companies’ settlements, which protect them from liability in any of the copycat lawsuits that have popped up across the country.

The settlement terms won’t be finalized until May 9, 2024, when a judge considers them for final approval. Settlement class members can dispute the settlements until April 13. As much as one-third of the settlement will go to the lawyers who brought the case.

Class members may be eligible to receive additional funds from the National Association of Realtors and HomeServices of America, the two Sitzer case defendants that didn’t settle. The trade group and brokerage are also vulnerable to damages in an upcoming lawsuit in Illinois.

Copycat lawsuits filed across the country post an existential threat to many brokerages.

The initial verdict ordered HomeServices, NAR and Keller Williams to pay $1.7 billion in damages, which can be trebled to more than $5 billion. Anywhere and Re/Max settled before the decision, while Keller Williams rolled the dice and lost — but managed to limit the damage by appealing the verdict, then negotiating a $70 million settlement.

Anywhere CEO Ryan Schneider got a $5 million bonus in large part for settling for $83.5 million, which seemed like a good outcome for the brokerage given the size of the subsequent jury award.

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