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Brokers Prepare for Changes After Sitzer/Burnett Commission Lawsuit Verdict

The real estate industry is currently in a state of flux following the guilty verdict in the Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit. This verdict has not only raised concerns about the future of real estate commissions and the overall business model but has also shifted the focus towards the increasing importance of seller leads in the current landscape.

The Verdict and Its Implications

A jury found the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Keller Williams, and HomeServices of America guilty of colluding over commission rates. The defendants were ordered to pay a staggering $1.78 billion in damages. This verdict was the outcome of the landmark Sitzer/Burnett trial, which spanned two weeks of testimony in a Kansas City courtroom. The trial revolved around alleged collusion facilitated by NAR’s Clear Cooperation Policy. The judge could potentially triple the damages to more than $5 billion and mandate policy changes.

NAR, in response to the verdict, stated that the matter is far from being final and plans to appeal the verdict, seeking a reduction in the damages awarded by the jury. Keller Williams and HomeServices of America also expressed their intentions to appeal the ruling. The core argument against the verdict is the potential risk to buyer representation, especially for first-time home buyers who might not be able to afford representation out-of-pocket.

What it Means for Agents

Joe Carteret, the head of the Carteret Group, weighed in on the situation, emphasizing the need for agents to take control of their business. He stated, "This all boils down to agents owning their business and recognizing their worth. They must articulate their value and have systems in place to ensure they're compensated. It's a fundamental principle that should've been established years ago. Agents need to prioritize being listing agents."

Shift in Focus: Seller Leads Over Buyer Leads

In light of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding buyer commissions, there's a growing emphasis on the importance of securing seller leads. Seller leads have always been valuable, but given the current environment, they've become even more crucial.

With potential changes in how buyer agents are compensated, there's a possibility that fewer agents will focus on buyers, making seller representation a more stable and lucrative avenue. Securing a seller lead ensures that the agent has control over the property listing, which can be marketed to a wide audience, thereby increasing the chances of a successful sale. Moreover, with a seller lead, agents have the opportunity to double-end the deal by representing both the seller and the buyer, further maximizing their commission.

The Importance of NAR and REALTORS®

NAR's existence as a trade association stems from the need identified over a century ago for a higher ethical standard in real estate. REALTORS® play a pivotal role in guiding consumers through the intricacies of buying and selling homes. They input valuable information into local broker marketplaces, which online housing portals utilize. REALTORS® are not just agents; they are advocates, entrepreneurs, experts, and philanthropists dedicated to protecting consumers, building generational wealth, and contributing to local and national economies.

Broker Compensation Insights

Compensation for agents is determined between brokers and their clients and is always negotiable. The cooperative compensation rule ensures that both buyers and sellers receive adequate representation, and buyer brokers are aware of their compensation before starting their work.


The Sitzer/Burnett commission lawsuit verdict has introduced a wave of uncertainty in the real estate industry. As the industry navigates these challenges, the resilience and adaptability of brokers and agents will be crucial. The shift towards prioritizing seller leads over buyer leads is a testament to the industry's ability to adapt and evolve in response to changing circumstances. Now, more than ever, agents need tools that can help them connect directly with property owners.

This is where Scout comes into play. If you're an agent looking to secure more seller leads and take control of your business, consider leveraging Scout to bridge the gap between you and potential clients. With NAR's commitment to pro-consumer and pro-competition practices, and with the right tools in hand, there is optimism that the industry will find a way forward, ensuring its continued growth and evolution. Don't wait; explore what Scout can offer you today.


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