Real Estate

As settlements progress, real estate agents get back in the saddle.

With the initial approval of NAR’s contract and a new settlement proposal from HomeServices of America, can we all finally get back to business?

On Inman Connect Las Vegas, July 30-Aug. 1, 2024, the noise and misinformation will be eliminated, all your big questions will be answered, and new business opportunities will emerge. Join us.

Each week on The Download, Inman’s Christy Murdock takes a closer look at the most read stories of the week to give you what you need to meet Monday. This week: With preliminary approval of NAR’s contract and a new settlement proposal from HomeServices of America, can we finally get back to business?

It feels like we’ve been in limbo since the very scary Halloween when Sitzer | Burnett’s decision came. Since then it’s been a blur of copycats and settlement proposals, grabbing the attention of agents while they also battle high interest rates, low inventory and waning consumer confidence.

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However, last week felt a little different. A little more positive. A little forward speed. Perhaps this is because spring has sprung in most parts of the country. Maybe it’s because people are getting used to the way things are.

Or maybe, just maybe, we’re turning a corner and getting ready to get back to business.

One of the caveats following the NAR settlement has been the fact that the settlement may still fall through. But now Judge Stephen R. Boe, who presided over the historic Sitzer | The Burnett class action lawsuit has given preliminary approval to a proposed settlement reached last month, making it more likely that Realtors will be operating under the new rules in just a few months.

Boff ruled that the major changes proposed within the settlement agreement were “fair, reasonable and appropriate” and set a November hearing for final approval.

Subsequently, the same judge consolidated two large similar lawsuits filed in his court challenging the current U.S. commission structure and representing millions of home sellers across the country.

EXTRA: Sitzer | Burnett Judge consolidated 2 Nationwide Commission suits.

Boe granted a motion to consolidate the cases, known as Gibson and Impa after their lead plaintiffs. The Setzer | Attorneys for Burnett’s plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Gibson on Oct. 31 minutes after the jury in Setzer. Burnett awarded a class of nearly 500,000 Missouri homeowners $1.78 billion in damages after the NAR and major real estate franchisors conspired to raise broker commission rates paid by home sellers.

Friday mornings have become prime time for news on commissions and settlements, and this week was no exception as we learned that HomeServices of America, one of the nation’s largest real estate brokerages, will pay $250 million and make changes to its business practices. As part of an agreement for litigation that is a continuing threat to the firm.

Extra: HomeServices of America agrees to pay $250M to settle lawsuits.

HomeServices is the last major brokerage named after the historic Sitzer The Burnett class action lawsuit follows Anywhere Real Estate and RE/MAX in September, Keller Williams in February and the National Association of Realtors last month to reach a settlement agreement.

The stakes were high for Home Services, which was potentially on the hook for the remaining $4.7 billion in damages from the Oct. 31 jury verdict in Sitzer. Burnett, which awarded the plaintiffs $5.3 billion. The jury awarded $1.78 billion, an amount that was automatically tripled.

You could practically hear the sighs of relief this week, as Inman readers immersed themselves in stories about answering questions and meeting clients — you know, the real thing. So like most springs, markets and marketing are now on everyone’s mind as agents once again adjust to a new normal and learn how to navigate the new rules of the road on behalf of their clients.

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Extra: Forget the NAR settlement. New development transactions still pay.

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