Beginning Monday, October 16, the Sitzer | Burnett commission trial begins in Kansas City, Missouri. Inman will be updating this post live throughout the month-long trial. Check back early and often for news, views, schedules and more.
One of two class action lawsuits threatening to upend the way buyer agents are compensated goes to trial Monday in U.S. District Court in Western Missouri.
Inman Deputy Editor Andrea Brambila is on the scene for what could be a three-week trial where some of the biggest names in real estate are called on to testify.
Check this post for updates throughout the day with color from the courtroom, on-the-ground reporting and other stories from possible settlements that could come in while the case, known as Sitzer | Burnett, stands before a jury.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 16 — DAY ONE
1:25 p.m. CDT: Chatter about the potential consequences of the lawsuit intensified Monday, including in a post on the popular Lab Coat Agents Facebook group. The post was a response to the Wall Street Journal’s take — many hated the Journal piece — and included numerous predictions about what the future of the industry could look like. Here are just a few of the comments:
“I think 2 things will happen, overall real estate commission will be lowered eventually (3-4% is my guess)and buyer commission will be brought to the forefront of the conversation with buyers. Buyer agreements will become standard and will negotiate/discuss the agent compensation that will be added to any offers written.”
“If this goes into effect it [will] negatively affect the buyers exponentially! The average buyer can not even come up with their own closing costs and down payment.”
“I feel like we could end up like a European system where there are no buyers agents.” — Jim Dalrymple II
11:23 a.m. CDT: Take our daily Sitzer survey. We want to know how much Inman readers expect the industry to change as a result of an eventual verdict. To start things off, let us know how dramatically you think the outcome will impact real estate in the U.S.
6:05 a.m. CDT: The Wall Street Journal dropped a meaty editorial on the antitrust case last night, essentially dismissing the National Association of Realtors as a “cartel,” language previously used by REX to describe the 1.58 million-member real estate trade organization. In particular, it takes aim at the supposed malleability of commission rates while touching on the conflicts of interest inherent in sellers’ agents paying homebuyers’ commissions.
“We’re no fans of most antitrust suits, but the evidence is strong that Realtors’ practices are classic antitrust violations that harm consumers,” the editorial ends decisively. “The Realtors may own the U.S. Congress, but perhaps independent courts won’t be so intimidated.”
5:30 a.m. CDT: Good morning from the Paris of the Plains, Kansas City, Missouri. Inman is on the ground as the trial of a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed 4.5 years ago kicks off at the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse. The primary order of business today is jury selection. — Andrea Brambila, Deputy Editor
5:20 a.m. CDT: Another great roundup of commission-related coverage as we prepare for the day comes from Inman Deputy Service Editor Christy Murdock, who narrowed in on the various industry responses to the lawsuits thus far, including settlements from RE/MAX and Anywhere. You can read that one here.
5 a.m. CDT: We’re up early getting ready for the first day of what we’re told will be a three-week trial. Inman Deputy Editor Andrea Brambila is flying in to Kansas City, Missouri from California as jury selection begins. She’ll be reporting on location for the duration of the trial.
While we wait for plaintiffs and defendants to arrive at the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse, Inman reporter Taylor Anderson has compiled a few examples of Inman’s commission coverage in case anyone needs a crash course on the details. But the best place to start is with Brambila’s preview of the Sitzer | Burnett trial, which published this morning and can be read here. — Jotham Sederstrom, Editor-in-Chief
An evolving list of essential reading as Sitzer | Burnett gets underway
What to know as the bombshell commission case moves forward: A recap of Inman’s most significant commission suit coverage, including the background on how the cases originated. Read more
NAR fights back as buyer broker commission lawsuits pile up. Lawsuits challenging the long-standing practice around real estate commissions started piling up in 2019. Two later earned class action status, Sitzer/Burner and Moehrl. Read more
Consumer watchdog says ‘modest’ commission proposals are insufficient. The consumer watchdog Consumer Federation of America outlines steps it says would create transparency around real estate commissions. Read more