Illinois homebuyer files commission lawsuit against @properties

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With four commission lawsuits in play, Illinois currently holds the title for the most commission lawsuits in one state. In addition to the long running Moehrl commission lawsuit, as well as the Batton 1 and Batton 2 suits, the Prairie State is now home to the Tuccori suit, filed in early December 2023 by James Tuccori against @properties.

The suit was originally filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois, but it was moved to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division last Friday.

Like the other copycat commission lawsuits, the plaintiff James Tuccori, an Illinois resident who purchased a home listed on the local MLS in 2018 with the help of an @properties agent, is accusing real estate industry players of colluding to artificially inflate real estate agent commissions. The suit takes aim at the National Association of Realtor’s Participation Rule which requires listing brokers to make a blanket offer of compensation to the buyer’s broker in order to list a property on a NAR affiliated MLS.

“These anti-competitive rules permit Defendant and other NAR members to sustain buyer-agent fees at artificially high levels which would not exist in a competitive marketplace,” the complaint reads. “Defendant and the members of NAR further protect and promote their conspiracy by exerting control over and manipulating the MLSs, which constitute the gateway to homebuying and selling.”

“There is no pro-competitive benefit to the conspiracy,” the complaint adds. “Defendant and its coconspirators have effectively maintained and significantly raised the financial costs of buyerbroker commissions, despite the diminishing role of such buyer-brokers due to the emergence of third-party listing websites.”

As with all of the other commission lawsuits, Tuccori’s suit is seeking class action status. However, the suit is seeking both national and Illinois class action status for all persons who purchased a home listed on a NAR MLS with a buyer’s agent and or seller-agent employed or affiliated with @properties or any of its franchises, subsidiaries, or agencies between March 17, 2000, and the present.

The plaintiff is demanding a jury trial, as well as damages and a permanent injunction that prevents the defendants from continuing on with these practices.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for @properties Christie’s International Real Estate, the top brokerage in Chicago, wrote that the copycat suit was in response to the Missouri jury’s verdict in the Sitzer/Burnett suit.

“The Kansas City case was premised on those other brokerages controlling NAR by having their executives serve on its board of directors and executive committee, which allegedly created, implemented, and enforced the NAR rules at issue. In contrast, the Chicago complaint makes no specific allegation that @properties was or is involved in any such activities,” the spokesperson wrote. “In fact, while we are members of NAR, no @properties manager or executive has ever served in any role at NAR with any rule-making authority. This applies to Mabel Guzman, a former @properties agent who is mentioned in the complaint, but who was never an employee or manager with @properites and was never directed by @properties’ management in her volunteer role with NAR. We will move to vigorously defend against this complaint and believe that it will be resolved in our favor.”

Guzman moved to a Coldwell Banker affiliate in Chicago in 2020 and remains an active member of NAR. According to her official biography, she served as the NAR 2021 vice chair for the insurance committee and she also chaired the business insurance work group. In 2020, she served as vice president of association affairs at NAR.

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