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Navigating the Legal Landscape of Real Estate Commissions: Understanding Recent Lawsuits and Their Implications

The real estate industry is a dynamic and complex one, often intertwined with legal matters and disputes. One such area that has gained significant attention in recent years is the issue of real estate commissions. These commissions, typically paid by sellers to their agents, have been the subject of several lawsuits, raising questions about their fairness and transparency.

Understanding Real Estate Commissions

Real estate commissions are fees paid to real estate agents for their services in facilitating the buying and selling of properties. These commissions are typically a percentage of the sale price of the property, often ranging from 3% to 6%. The commission is typically split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.

Recent Lawsuits and Their Impact

Several high-profile lawsuits have challenged the traditional practice of real estate commissions. One notable case is Burnett v. National Association of Realtors et al., filed in 2019. The plaintiffs in this case allege that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several large real estate brokerage firms conspired to artificially inflate real estate commissions, resulting in higher costs for home sellers.

In October 2023, a federal jury in Missouri ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Burnett case, awarding them $1.8 billion in damages. This landmark ruling could have significant implications for the real estate industry, potentially leading to lower commissions and increased transparency for home sellers.

Implications for the Real Estate Industry

The recent lawsuits and their outcomes have raised several questions about the future of real estate commissions. Some experts believe that the traditional commission structure may be unsustainable and could be replaced by more flexible or performance-based models. Others argue that commissions are necessary to compensate agents for their expertise and services.


The legal landscape surrounding real estate commissions is evolving rapidly, with the potential for significant changes in the industry. As these developments unfold, it is crucial for both home sellers and real estate agents to stay informed and understand the implications of these changes.


What are the main arguments against traditional real estate commissions?

Critics of traditional real estate commissions argue that they are unnecessarily high, lack transparency, and do not always reflect the value of the services provided by agents.

What are some alternative commission models being proposed?

Some potential alternatives to traditional commissions include flat fees, tiered commissions, and performance-based commissions.

What is the potential impact of the Burnett v. NAR lawsuit?

The Burnett v. NAR lawsuit could lead to lower commissions, increased transparency for home sellers, and a shift towards more flexible or performance-based commission models.

How can home sellers best navigate the changing commission landscape?

Home sellers should educate themselves about different commission models and negotiate with potential agents to find the best arrangement for their needs.

What role does the National Association of Realtors play in real estate commissions?

The NAR is a trade organization that sets standards and guidelines for the real estate industry, including commission practices.

What are the potential benefits of a more flexible commission structure?

A more flexible commission structure could allow for more innovation and competition in the real estate industry, potentially benefiting both home sellers and buyers.


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