A monthly message from C.A.R. President Melanie Barker

Melanie Barker
2024 C.A.R. President

2/20/24 – Many volunteer hours went into creating new Association policy on a number of very important issues. We will be sending a full list of action items later this week, but I want to mention a few highlights:

The C.A.R. Board of Directors approved a motion from our Transaction and Regulatory Committee that C.A.R. sponsor legislation that would mandate that a real estate licensee have a signed buyer-broker agency agreement.

Your Board also approved $19 million to fund a campaign to “OPPOSE” three initiatives that will appear on the November ballot and support one initiative on that same ballot. Our opposition is to ACA 1 regarding Local government financing, ACA 13 regarding voting thresholds and an initiative that attempts to Repeal the Costa Hawkins Rent Control Law. The initiative we are supporting with financial resources is SCA 2 regarding Public Housing projects. 

The Board approved an allocation of $1,000,000 to extend the C.A.R. HAF Pathway to Homeownership Closing Cost Assistance Grant Program in 2024.  This will enable HAF to continue its work with non-profit partners to administer the restricted grant program across all 58 counties within California. 

This is just a sampling of the important actions taken last week at our Conference. Now, for a litigation update:

On February 15, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the Nosalek v. MLS Property Information Network, Inc. case that is pending in Massachusetts federal court.

As you may recall, the Nosalek case is a seller class action lawsuit that was filed in December 2020 against MLS PIN and several corporate broker defendants. The complaint alleges the listing broker’s offer of cooperative compensation to buyers’ brokers in the MLS violates federal and state antitrust laws.

The proposed settlement agreement in the Nosalek case would create changes to MLS PIN’s rules, including: 1) Making the cooperative compensation rule optional; 2) Allowing the offer of cooperative compensation to be as little as zero; and 3) Having the offer of cooperative compensation made from the seller and not the listing broker.

In its Statement of Interest, the DOJ states that the proposed changes are inadequate for consumer protection. In its brief filed with the court, the DOJ suggests prohibiting offers of buyer-broker compensation by MLS participants and, instead, having sellers only determine compensation for their listing broker while buyers would be responsible for determining compensation for their broker in a buyer representation agreement.

By filing its Statement of Interest, the DOJ is asking the Court to deny preliminary approval of the proposed settlement in the Nosalek case. The Court can still approve the settlement over the DOJ’s objection. 

Additionally, I want to mention that on February 1, notices were sent out to some class members in the class action lawsuits of Burnett, Moehrl, and Nosalek, based on the proposed settlement agreements involving RE/MAX, Keller Williams, and Anywhere.   Although these three lawsuits were not filed in California, it’s possible you could receive questions about the notices that were sent to consumers in relation to these out-of-state antitrust cases.   

If someone asks you for more details about the RE/MAX, Keller Wiliams, or Anywhere lawsuit settlements, or if they have questions about the settlement procedures (for example, whether they should make a claim or opt out of the settlement), you may suggest they consult with their own attorney to obtain legal advice on how to proceed.  You may also refer them to the website and information described in the notices that were sent to the consumers.

To be clear, NAR is not involved in the proposed settlements between the plaintiffs and the corporate broker defendants who have decided to settle the Burnett, Moehrl, and Nosalek cases.

NAR has posted information about these copycat antitrust lawsuits at competition.realtor.

We will keep you updated on significant developments in any of these cases. In the meantime, please visit smartzonecar.org for information on the litigation and for buyer broker resources.

 Thank you,

Melanie Barker
2024 C.A.R. President