It is a crime to tape record a conversation in Florida without the permission of the other person involved. It is not a crime to share an email that is sent with no expectation of privacy. But when the contents of the email may constitute a crime, that communication may put you in jail and get a million dollar judgment against you.
This is the case with antitrust. Some people, even after decades of education and reformed practices in real estate, think there is a minimum commission for REALTORS® to charge. Some think that there is a “standard” split. Some think that the Board of REALTORS® or the MLS corporation suggests commission amounts or commission splits. Some think it is okay to call for a boycott of other real estate professionals. None of that is true. Any REALTOR® who promotes that picture is facing civil and criminal penalties.
If you do not like the offer of compensation related to a listing, do not work it. Spend your efforts on tasks that will award you better, if that is your choice.
But it is illegal for you to call for a boycott of that brokerage that offers you less than that which you somehow think is “standard.” There is no standard.
There was a time when lawyers had a minimum fee schedule, for certain tasks. It was generally put out by the local Bar associations. That was illegal price fixing and stopped.
Now there is news that some currency traders conspired to set the value of certain currency or matters related to that. If proven true and that it violated the antitrust laws, those individuals may be jailed and fined, and their companies may be fined and subject to a large judgment, which is automatically tripled.
And when a REALTOR® emails or speaks antitrust comments, he or she puts at risk every other REALTOR®. The actions of one REALTOR®, when viewed as in concert with other REALTORS®, may get all of them sued, and the Board put in harm’s way.
It is undisputed that the Tallahassee Board of REALTORS®, CATRS, Florida REALTORS® and NAR are intolerant of any hint at price fixing, split fixing, boycotting, or other conduct that might be anti-competitive and may be illegal under antitrust laws.
So, repeat after me:
- There is no standard commission.
- There is no minimum commission.
- There is no standard split of commission.
- There is no boycotting because of compensation issues.
- And every REALTOR® is free to work or not work on any listing, for the compensation offered.
If you have any questions, visit NAR’s website for more details.
Joe R. Boyd
TBR Legal Counsel
Board Certified Real Estate Attorney
Boyd & DuRant, P.L.