(Bloomberg) — Zillow Group Inc. and other real estate stocks plunged after a Missouri jury found the National Association of Realtors and other industry players guilty of colluding to maintain high brokerage commissions.
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Shares of Zillow were down 6.4% to $35.70 at 3:12 p.m. New York time. They earlier fell as much as 11%, the largest intraday decline since May 2022, after industry publications reported on the verdict. Brokerage shares also sank, with Compass Inc. falling 5.7%. Redfin Corp. dropped 5.4%.
None of those companies were named in the lawsuit, which was filed in Kansas City, Missouri, against the Realtors association, Keller Williams and Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America. Two other brokerages, Re/Max and Anywhere Real Estate Inc., settled with plaintiffs earlier this year, agreeing to pay $55 million and $83.5 million, respectively, and to no longer require agents to belong to NAR.
In separate statements, NAR and HomeServices said they intend to appeal. Keller Williams said it “will consider all options as we assess the verdict and trial record, including avenues of appeal.”
“Today’s decision means that buyers will face even more obstacles in an already challenging real estate market and sellers will have a harder time realizing the value of their homes,” HomeServices said. “It could also force homebuyers to forgo professional help during what is likely the most complex and consequential financial transaction they’ll make in their lifetime.”
The jury awarded $1.785 billion in damages in the case, which was the smaller of two lawsuits concerning brokerage commission practices. In a third matter, the Justice Department is focused on a commission-sharing system that typically puts home sellers on the hook for a 5% to 6% cut of the sale, split between their agent and the buyer’s agent.
Taken together, the cases represent a challenge to a commission system seen as more expensive for consumers than in countries such as Australia and the UK. In a worst-case scenario for the industry, the federal government could seek to ban sharing commissions, prohibiting sellers’ agents from compensating buyers’ agents.
An NAR spokesman said that while the group plans to appeal, the matter will take years to resolve. “In the interim,” Mantill Williams said in a statement, “we will ask the court to reduce the damages awarded by the jury.”
(Updates with additional information on lawsuits beginning in the third paragraph.)
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