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A Lawsuit from North Bay Says Real Estate Companies Pay Too Much in Fees!


In 2024, significant court cases in Missouri and the North Bay area are set to challenge the traditional commission structures in the real estate industry. These cases, involving allegations of collusion among real estate companies to inflate commission fees, could lead to major changes in how commissions are determined, impacting buyers and sellers.

Nick Narodny, CEO and founder of Aalto, highlighted the gravity of these impending changes in an interview with CBS News Bay Area. He posited that the current commission model could undergo a complete overhaul by the end of the next year.

Narodny underscored the potential for these changes to be felt directly in the pockets of consumers involved in real estate transactions. A key factor driving this shift is the growing evidence suggesting that commissions are being maintained at artificially high levels by the industry.

This issue has been brought to light through personal experiences within Narodny’s own company and echoed by consumer sentiments. A recent lawsuit in Missouri has become emblematic of these concerns. Homeowners and buyers alleged that major real estate brokerages colluded to inflate commission rates, thereby escalating the costs associated with buying or selling homes.

A Lawsuit from North Bay Says Real Estate Companies Pay Too Much in Fees!

Jeron Breit, the plaintiff in the Missouri case, expressed his bewilderment at paying commissions to agents who provided no discernible service to him, encapsulating widespread frustration. The impact of high commission fees is particularly pronounced in areas like the Bay Area, where the average home price exceeds $1 million.

In such markets, commission fees, traditionally around 5% of the selling price, result in at least $50,000 being split between buyer’s and seller’s agents. Critics argue that these high fees contribute to inflating home listing prices. Narodny points out that despite significant changes in the real estate sector, commission percentages have remained largely unchanged for a century.

Adjusted for inflation, these rates are disproportionately high compared to the evolving role and responsibilities of real estate agents. A Missouri court’s decision to award nearly $1.8 billion in damages in the aforementioned case has sparked similar legal actions elsewhere.

A case in the North Bay, targeting the National Association of Realtors among others, exemplifies this growing legal challenge to traditional commission structures. The potential bursting of the ‘commission bubble’ could lead to a significant increase in home listings, according to Narodny.

A Lawsuit from North Bay Says Real Estate Companies Pay Too Much in Fees!

Lowering commission fees could reduce the financial burden associated with buying or selling homes, thereby facilitating more frequent property transactions. While the parties involved in the North Bay case declined to comment when approached by CBS News Bay Area, Narodny is proactively adapting to these potential changes.

His approach involves working with preset fees, a model that he believes could become more prevalent among agents. This model would involve buyers negotiating fees directly with their agents, akin to other service industries, rather than adhering to a fixed commission rate.

These developments signal a potentially transformative period in real estate, where traditional practices are being scrutinized and possibly reformed. The outcome of these lawsuits could herald a new era in real estate transactions, emphasizing fairness and transparency in commission structures.

A Lawsuit from North Bay Says Real Estate Companies Pay Too Much in Fees!

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