The National Association of Realtors (NAR), along with two brokerage firms, has been found liable for $1.8 billion in damages for conspiring to keep real estate commissions artificially high. This verdict may lead to significant changes in how homes are bought and sold. Two other firms named in the lawsuit settled out of court for $140 million and agreed to make changes in their business practices. NAR, as the largest professional organization in America, has been able to avoid disruption in the industry due to its power and lobbying influence. However, this verdict marks a setback for NAR, which has been facing antitrust scrutiny from US officials. The plaintiff's argument is that NAR forces home sellers to pay inflated commissions that are split between their agent and the buyer's agent, resulting in artificially high prices. NAR and the defendants argued that their commissions are negotiable and that splitting the commission allows buyers to avoid additional expenses. The impact of the verdict may result in changes to how commissions are structured in the industry, potentially separating the buyer's agent commission from the seller's agent commission. This could lead to lower home prices if commissions are reduced or become more negotiable. However, agents believe that commissions will continue to be negotiable in the short term, and buyers who are already burdened with expenses may struggle to pay for a buyer's agent if required.
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