Court Grants Preliminary Approval in Major Real Estate Settlement Involving National Association of Realtors

In a significant development in the class-action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several major real estate entities, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri has granted preliminary approval for a proposed settlement. This lawsuit, led by plaintiffs Rhonda Burnett, Jerod Breit, Jeremy Keel, Hollee Ellis, and Frances Harvey, represents a class of U.S. homeowners who paid commissions to brokers upon the sale of their homes through multiple listing services during specific periods spanning from 2014 to the present. The court’s decision, as detailed in the document “Sitzer v NAR – Motion for Preliminary Approval of Proposed Settlement – Order Granted,” acknowledges the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the settlement, setting the stage for final approval pending further review and a hearing scheduled for November 2024.

The complete details can be found in the courts order below.

Will the NAR Commission Lawsuit Settlement Change Real Estate Practices in St. Louis?

Since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the plaintiffs in the following lawsuits—Christopher Moehrl v. The National Association of Realtors et al., Rhonda Burnett (originally Sitzer) v. The National Association of Realtors et al., Dawin Niel Umpa v. The National Association of Realtors, et al., and Don Gibson v. The National Association of Realtors—reached a settlement agreement on March 15, 2024, which is still pending court approval and thus preliminary at this point, the topic has dominated industry conversations. The focus of these lawsuits on buyer’s agent commissions has attracted more media attention since mid-March than it seems to have received in the over 40 years I’ve been in the business before that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all this attention is bad. In fact, I believe it is beneficial. I’ve long advocated for educating consumers, feeling that the more home buyers and sellers know, the better decisions they can make. This is why I’m rapidly approaching the milestone of 3,000 articles on the topic of real estate in St. Louis on this site.

Now, I don’t do this solely for altruistic reasons; sharing the information and knowledge I’ve gained either through experience or research is also self-serving. As a broker-owner of MORE, REALTORS®, I’ve put forth just as much effort in sharing knowledge with our agents, and I am blessed to be surrounded by real estate professionals who are as eager as I am to increase their knowledge and hone their skills to better serve clients. Here’s the reward for me: informed and knowledgeable consumers seek out better and more professional agents, like the ones we’re in business with, creating a win-win situation.
Having said all that, while the attention from the media is beneficial, unfortunately, there is a lot of incorrect information out there and assertions being made that don’t seem to be based on facts, but rather on opinion. Oh yes, I have opinions too, plenty of them, many of which are shared on this site, but to the extent possible, I try to base them on facts and include the sources of my opinions.

Will MLS Access Be Untethered from REALTOR Membership?

In the wake of recent legal developments, including a proposed settlement by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in March addressing buyer agent commissions, the real estate industry finds itself at another critical juncture. This time, attention turns to a lawsuit spotlighted in my article from a week ago, “New Lawsuit Against NAR Spotlights Tying of MLS Access to Realtor Membership in Ongoing Commission Debate“, which challenges the longstanding practice of tying MLS access to Realtor association membership. Unlike the NAR settlement that focused on commission structures, this new legal action delves into the exclusivity of market information access, a matter that has long spurred debate and litigation.

A Recurring Theme in Real Estate Litigation

The intertwining of Realtor association membership and MLS access has been a contentious issue, sparking several lawsuits over the years. This relationship, critics argue, creates barriers to competition and innovation in the real estate market.

Significant Legal Precedents

A pivotal moment in this ongoing discourse was the “Thompson v. Metropolitan Multi-List, Inc. Lawsuit,” where the 11th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in 1991 ruled against restricting MLS access to Realtor members in Georgia. This case set a significant precedent, affirming that such practices could violate federal antitrust laws if the MLS wielded “market power” in the relevant geographic market.

Further complicating the landscape, California courts in the late 1970s found similar restrictions in violation of state antitrust statutes, thereby requiring Realtor associations in the state to open their MLS to non-members.

Looking Ahead

As the real estate industry continues to evolve, the relationship between REALTOR® associations and MLS access remains a focal point for legal scrutiny and industry reform. The implications of these legal battles extend beyond the courtroom, potentially shaping the future of real estate transactions, market competition, and consumer choice.

While the NAR settlement and recent lawsuits highlight different facets of the industry’s challenges, they collectively underscore a broader call for transparency, fairness, and innovation in real estate practices.


The dialogue surrounding MLS access and REALTOR® association membership is far from concluded. As legal actions continue to unfold, stakeholders across the real estate spectrum must remain vigilant and adaptable to the changing regulatory and business environment.  At MORE, REALTORS®, we’re keenly aware of these potential shifts and are proactively strategizing to ensure our agents are well-positioned to navigate any changes that may arise. Our focus remains steadfast on providing exceptional service to our clients, irrespective of the evolving industry dynamics. As always, we’re committed to transparency, adaptability, and unwavering professionalism.


DOJ Delivers Regulatory Blow to NAR: Court Reopens Antitrust Investigation

In a significant turn of events that has captured the attention of homebuyers, homesellers, and real estate professionals nationwide, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has delivered a landmark judgment that underscores the intricate balance between regulatory oversight and the operational freedoms of real estate associations. This case, National Association of Realtors (NAR) versus United States of America, et al., centers on the alleged anticompetitive practices within the real estate industry, specifically scrutinizing the policies implemented by NAR.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), through its Antitrust Division, initiated an investigation into NAR’s policies, which culminated in a settlement in November 2020. This settlement aimed to address four out of six policies identified by the DOJ as potentially anticompetitive. Crucially, it also included the issuance of a closing letter by the DOJ, indicating the closure of its investigation into two key NAR policies: the “Clear Cooperation Policy” and the “Participation Rule.” These policies relate to the operation of multiple-listing services (MLSs) and the commission structure within real estate transactions, respectively.

However, in a dramatic shift, the DOJ reopened its investigation into these policies in July 2021, leading to a legal challenge by NAR. NAR argued that the DOJ’s action breached the settlement agreement, which, in their view, included an implicit assurance against reopening the investigation into the specified policies.

The Appeals Court, in its decision, highlighted the legal nuances of the settlement agreement and the scope of the DOJ’s commitments. The court concluded that the settlement did not preclude the DOJ from reopening its investigation. This decision not only emphasizes the DOJ’s ongoing authority to regulate and scrutinize industry practices for anticompetitive behavior but also signals to real estate professionals the importance of adaptive compliance with evolving regulatory landscapes.

This ruling carries profound implications for the real estate industry, reinforcing the principle that regulatory oversight is a dynamic process, subject to revision and reassessment in light of new information or changing circumstances. For homebuyers and homesellers, the decision underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring fair and competitive practices within the real estate market, aiming to protect consumer interests and promote market transparency.


United States Court of Appeals Judgement –  NAR vs United States of America

(click on image below to access entire judgment) 

United States Court of Appeals Judgement -  NAR vs United States of America

New Lawsuit Against NAR Spotlights Tying of MLS Access to Realtor Membership in Ongoing Commission Debate

In the evolving landscape of real estate litigation, a fresh lawsuit filed by homeowner Hao Zhe Wang against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and several major real estate brokerage firms introduces a nuanced critique of industry practices. Distinguishing itself from prior actions, this case zeroes in on the contentious policy requiring real estate agents to be NAR members in order to access Multiple Listing Services (MLS), a stipulation the plaintiff contends unfairly influences commission structures and inflates transaction costs.

The Core Allegations:

At the heart of Wang’s lawsuit is an objection to how MLS access — a critical tool for buying and selling properties — is tied to membership in the NAR. This arrangement, according to the lawsuit, perpetuates a non-competitive environment where commission rates are kept uniformly high due to lack of market-driven pricing. This system, the plaintiff argues, indirectly forces buyers to absorb the cost of buyer’s agent commissions, which are embedded in home purchase prices, in violation of antitrust laws.

Legal Objectives:

  • Seeking Class Action: The lawsuit aims to achieve class action status, offering representation to a broad swath of home buyers potentially affected by the described practices.
  • Injunctive Relief and Damages: Beyond seeking damages for alleged overpayments, the complaint calls for judicial intervention to prohibit the continuation of tying MLS access to NAR membership, alongside the existing commission practices.

Industry Implications:

This lawsuit adds another layer to the ongoing discourse on real estate commission models, specifically targeting the structures that underpin agent access to essential market information. By challenging the linkage of MLS access to NAR membership, the case prompts a reevaluation of how such policies impact competition, pricing, and ultimately, consumer choice.

Reflecting on the Bigger Picture:

From an insider perspective, this case illuminates the complex interplay between professional associations, access to market information, and how commissions are structured. It calls into question whether current practices best serve the market’s needs or if they inadvertently constrain competition and innovation. As the real estate industry continues to grapple with these issues, the outcome of this lawsuit could have significant repercussions, potentially catalyzing shifts towards more transparent and consumer-friendly practices.

Hao Zhe Wang v The National Association of REALTORS®

(click below to view the entire complaint)

NAR’s $418 Million Antitrust Settlement: Will It Face the Same DOJ Scrutiny as MLS PIN Deal?

NAR Sitzet Moerhl Commission SettlementLast week, I wrote an article about the settlement reached by the National Association of REALTORS® in pending litigation concerning buyer agency compensation. This includes the “Sitzer” (now Burnett), “Moehrl,” and “MLS PIN” suits, among others. As mentioned, this is an early stage in the process; the settlement agreement, although agreed upon by the parties involved, has not yet been filed with the court. Given these are large class action lawsuits alleging antitrust violations, numerous hurdles must be overcome. These could necessitate changes to the settlement terms on the path to court approval—if the court approves it at all.

Hurdles include the court holding a fairness hearing to assess if the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate for class members. This hearing allows class members to express objections and concerns. Moreover, antitrust class action lawsuits like this one, which impact market competition and consumer protection, prompt the court to consider broader public interest implications when approving settlements. This attention often draws input from professional associations, consumer organizations, and, as seen in the MLS PIN suit, the United States, giving their opinion on the settlement’s sufficiency.

Ultimately, the decision rests with the judge, who will consider all these aspects.

I should have led with this, but I am not an attorney, and this is not legal advice. As a real estate broker with over four decades in the residential real estate industry, I have a keen interest in the legal facets of our business and the issues at hand, closely following these cases since 2019. I’m a staunch advocate for transparency and education for real estate professionals, clients, and everyone involved. The more accurate knowledge consumers have about buying and selling a home, the better choices they can make. This is especially true when selecting a real estate agent, as not all are created equal.

Back to the matter at hand.

What will the DOJ say about the NAR Settlement?

Assuming the Department of Justice files an amicus brief in this case, as they did with MLS PIN—a safe assumption, in my view—it’s intriguing to speculate on their comments regarding this settlement. While I lack a crystal ball or insider information, considering the DOJ’s Statement of Interest filed on February 15, 2024, in Nosalek V. MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN), and assuming their opinion hasn’t shifted in the last five weeks, offers a logical foundation for analysis.

I sought an objective analysis from my trusty AI Assistant, which, for the sake of this discussion, is an outstanding attorney specializing in antitrust law (or at least that is what I’ve told it to think of itself as). Applying the DOJ’s recent statement to this settlement, here’s what it suggests the DOJ might say:

  • Inadequate Address of Core Antitrust Concerns: The settlement’s proposed rule changes fail to resolve the fundamental antitrust issues raised in the complaint fully. While allowing $0 cooperative compensation offers and requiring commission negotiation disclosures, the continued practice of blanket unilateral compensation offers to buyer brokers by sellers and listing brokers could perpetuate steering risks and obstruct genuine price competition.
  • Broad Release of Potential Antitrust Claims: The extensive release of antitrust claims against a wide range of parties, including NAR, REALTOR® associations, MLSs, and individual brokers and agents, is concerning. Given the settlement’s limited injunctive relief, this broad release might inadequately serve class members.
  • Insufficient Monetary Relief: The $418 million settlement fund, potentially inadequate for the damages at issue, may not ensure compensation for class members after litigation expenses and attorney’s fees. The settlement lacks a clear mechanism for maximizing class member payouts.
  • Potential Chilling Effect on Future Antitrust Challenges: The settlement could deter or complicate future anticompetitive practice challenges by immunizing modified rules from further scrutiny, making subsequent lawsuits more difficult.
  • Comparison to MLS PIN Settlement: Despite more extensive practice changes than the MLS PIN agreement, the settlement doesn’t effectively address core antitrust concerns, marginally improving over the MLS PIN agreement.

In conclusion, despite offering more monetary relief and practice changes than the MLS PIN agreement, the settlement inadequately addresses fundamental antitrust issues. The court must weigh whether the settlement’s limited benefits justify the broad release of claims and the potential chilling effect on future antitrust enforcement. As in the MLS PIN case, a more effective remedy might prohibit the seller-paid buyer broker commission model, fostering genuine market competition.

This is all based on publicly available information. We must wait to see the DOJ’s stance and whether the judge deems the settlement adequate.

NAR to Settle Nationwide Litigation on Broker Commissions, Introduces Industry-Wide Changes

Kevin Sears, NAR President

Kevin Sears, NAR President

This morning, Kevin Sears, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), unveiled a proposed settlement designed to bring to a close the contentious litigation surrounding broker commissions, a move that could significantly alter the landscape of the real estate industry. This development comes on the heels of the Sitzer-Burnett verdict, which cast the traditional practices of real estate professionals, particularly those concerning hiring and compensation methods, into the spotlight, sparking a series of lawsuits and raising questions about the future of the industry.

A Closer Look at the Proposed Settlement

The core aim of the proposed settlement is to resolve the ongoing litigation against NAR, its members, and associated real estate entities by addressing the claims related to broker commissions. Key components of the settlement include:

  • Liability Release: More than one million NAR members, along with various real estate entities, will be absolved from liability for claims akin to those highlighted in the lawsuits.
  • Compensation Offers: A pivotal change involves the elimination of compensation offers from MLS listings, a rule set to take effect in mid-July 2024.
  • Written Agreements: Starting mid-July 2024, MLS participants working with buyers will be required to engage through written representation agreements.
  • Financial Implications: NAR has committed to paying $418 million over a four-year span, a significant financial undertaking that will not result in an increase in the 2024 membership dues according to the release. (Noted is the fact they didn’t commit to no increases as a result beyond 2024)

Kevin Sears Weighs In

Sears articulated the objectives of the settlement, stating, “This proposed settlement achieves our goals to reduce strain on our members and chart a path forward for the industry.” He further emphasized the industry’s resilience and adaptability, expressing confidence that the agreement “allows us to move forward, preserving the right to real property for all.”

MORE, REALTORS® Prepared for the Future

Yes, this might come off as a shameless plug, but it would be a disservice not to mention how myself, alongside our brokerage’s leadership team, brokers, and agents, have been proactively preparing for the anticipated changes. We’ve delved deep into the issues raised by these lawsuits, identifying practices in need of rectification, regardless of the legal outcomes. Thus, while the shift away from MLS compensation offerings may catch many off guard, our team stands ready. We’re equipped to demystify the compensation process for our clients transparently, dedicating our focus to their needs. Discover more about our exceptional team at

The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

(click on image to view entire agreement)

The Proposed NAR Settlement Agreement

Controversy Surrounds Cash for 40-Year Listing Rights Contracts in St. Louis Real Estate Market

Attorney General Andrew Bailey vs MV RealtyMV Realty Holdings, LLC, a Florida-based real estate company, has recently come under scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing and is currently facing bankruptcy proceedings. The company, which offers homeowners cash in exchange for exclusive rights to list their properties for sale for purportedly a period that lasts forty (40) years, has been accused of deceptive practices and unfair treatment of its clients, including homeowners in Missouri and the St. Louis area.

Here in Missouri, MV Realty has faced legal action from Missouri State Attorney General, Andrew Bailey who, earlier this year, filed suit against MV Realty “for its deceptive practices in marketing its services to Missouri homeowners.”  In a press release about this suit, Attorney General Bailey stated “I will enforce the laws as written and defend innocent Missourians from being ripped off” and the he was “proud of the work done by our Consumer Protection Unit to obtain justice for victims in this case.”

The suit filed by Attorney General Bailey alleges that “MV Realty, in violation of Missouri law, paid homeowners a tiny percentage of the value of their homes in exchange for a promise that the homeowner would use MV Realty as their brokers when they sold their homes.”  Attorney General Bailey’s statement about the suit filed goes on to to state that “the petition further alleges that MV Realty failed to tell the homeowners that the contract would be enforceable against their heirs after their death, that the contract bound them for 40 years, and that it would result in a lien being placed on their homes. In some instances, MV Realty falsely told homeowners that MV Realty would not place a lien on their homes, and that they would never have to pay the money back.”

Attorney General Bailey is asking the court to order that the liens be removed, that the agreements are void and unenforceable and to provide restitution to consumers who have been charged unlawful cancellation penalties and then finally to order that MV Realty pay fines and penalties, including $213 million in penalties for calling homeowners on the No Call list.

MV Realty operated in several states and appears to have complaints mounting in many of them from various parties.  In late 2022 the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against MV Realty, accusing the company of violating the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit sought to enjoin MV Realty from engaging in further deceptive practices and to obtain restitution for affected homeowners.

As legal challenges and claims against MV Realty accumulated, MV Realty Holdings and approximately two dozen affiliated companies sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2023. This move automatically initiates a “stay” on existing lawsuits and claims, effectively pausing them. These actions remain on hold until the bankruptcy court either grants relief from the stay or the bankruptcy case concludes through dismissal or discharge. Currently, with the bankruptcy cases still active, proceedings are largely at a standstill. However, indications suggest the bankruptcy court may soon make further developments or progress.

Homeowners, including those in the St. Louis area, who entered agreements with MV Realty, face uncertainty regarding their property liens and seek clarity on their standing as the legal and bankruptcy proceedings progress.

The purpose of sharing this information is to educate homeowners on the importance of thoroughly understanding any agreements concerning their homes, advocating for informed decision-making with the support of qualified professionals. In our real estate practice at MORE, REALTORS®, we emphasize education and leverage a network of trusted professionals to guide homeowners, reflecting our commitment to looking out for our clients best interest and to equipping our clients to make informed decisions.

Is the REALTORS’ Clear Cooperation Policy Aiding Market Fairness or Fueling Legal Battles?

Recently, the real estate industry has found itself under increasing legal scrutiny, with multiple lawsuits challenging established norms. A critical point of debate is the REALTORS’ Clear Cooperation Policy. This policy mandates that within one business day of marketing a property to the public, agents must list the property on the MLS. While designed to promote transparency and cooperation among real estate professionals, it’s worth asking: Is this policy partly to blame for the industry’s legal challenges, or does it genuinely foster a fair and open market in compliance with the Sherman Antitrust Act?

The Sherman Antitrust Act, a cornerstone of U.S. antitrust law, prohibits any contract or combination that restrains trade. The Clear Cooperation Policy, by restricting agents’ freedom to market properties outside the MLS, potentially limits competition. Centralizing all listings within the MLS could be seen as creating a monopolistic environment, contrary to the principles of free trade the Sherman Act seeks to protect. On the other hand, proponents argue that the policy ensures equal access to property listings for all agents, thereby benefiting consumers by offering a comprehensive market view.

As legal battles unfold and regulatory bodies like the DOJ and FTC weigh in, the real estate industry awaits clarity. The coming months are crucial, and they will likely reveal whether the Clear Cooperation Policy aligns with the ethos of the Sherman Antitrust Act or contradicts it. As we navigate these complex legal waters, stay tuned to St Louis Real Estate News for the latest developments and insights. We’re committed to keeping you informed about how these critical issues will shape the future of real estate marketing and market fairness. Moreover, you can rely on the professional agents at MORE, REALTORS. They possess not only the knowledge and expertise to navigate through all the rules and regulations but also deliver exceptional results to their clients.

Highlights of the Clear Cooperation Policy

  • Mandatory MLS Listing: Properties must be listed on the MLS within one business day of public marketing.
  • Scope of Public Marketing: Includes flyers, yard signs, digital marketing, and more.
  • Office Exclusive Listings: Allows keeping listings off the MLS if not publicly marketed.
  • Filing Requirement: All exclusive listings must be filed with the MLS if publicly marketed.
  • Enforcement: Imposes fines and reporting mechanism for non-compliance.

Key Components of Sherman Antitrust Act Relevant to the Policy

  • Restriction on Trade: Prohibits practices that restrain trade or commerce.
  • Legal Consequences: Includes fines and imprisonment for violations.
  • Focus on Competition: Aims to maintain free and competitive markets.
  • Application to Real Estate: Includes practices affecting inter-state commerce.
  • Interpretation in Courts: Requires judicial determination on trade restraints.

Evaluating the MLS System: Time for Change?

The real estate industry stands at a pivotal juncture, where longstanding practices are being questioned and re-evaluated. Central to this introspection is the structure of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a tool indispensable to our trade. Current legal challenges (such as the Sitzer v NAR lawsuit) and scrutiny from the Department of Justice, particularly concerning policies like clear cooperation and offers of compensation, have brought to the forefront a crucial question: Is the current MLS system, tied as it is to REALTOR® association membership, serving the best interests of our clients and the industry?

The traditional model, which intertwines MLS access with REALTOR® association membership, implies that an agent or broker not aligned with the REALTOR® association is denied access to the MLS. This setup, while historically effective in maintaining a standard of practice and ensuring a level of oversight, now faces criticism for potentially limiting competition and choice in the market.

In the St. Louis area, like in many parts of the country, this structure has been the bedrock of real estate transactions. The MLS, governed and in many times owned by REALTOR® associations (such as is the case in St Louis), has long been a symbol of professional adherence to ethical standards and cooperation. However, the landscape is changing. The industry is evolving with technology and a more informed consumer base, leading to questions about whether this model still serves its intended purpose effectively.

Recent events have brought to light concerns about whether these practices stifle competition and limit consumer choice. The clear cooperation policy, for instance, mandates that all listings be made available to all participating MLS members, tying access closely to association membership. The question arises: does this limit the ability of non-association brokers to compete fairly, subsequently negatively  impacting the consumer?

In an ideal scenario, the MLS should be a tool that enhances the market by ensuring wide visibility of listings, fostering competition, and upholding professional standards. But when access to this crucial tool is contingent on association membership, we must ask if we’re inadvertently creating barriers that go against the very principles of open market competition and consumer choice.

As we delve deeper into this issue, a compelling argument arises for decoupling the MLS from REALTOR® association memberships. Such a change could potentially open the market to a broader range of professionals, encouraging innovation and perhaps even leading to improved services and tools. This decoupling could also align with antitrust laws, addressing legal concerns around competition.

However, this proposed change is not without its challenges. The association-MLS model provides a framework for ethical standards and professional conduct. Decoupling might require the development of new systems to ensure these standards are upheld, which could be complex and resource-intensive.

While currently there are more questions than answers with regard to the issues of race, I think one thing that is certain is that we are likely to see changes to the current system on some level in the coming months.

“Adapt & Thrive”: A Webinar Guiding St. Louis REALTORS® Through Industry Changes

In an era of rapid evolution in the real estate business, it’s crucial for St. Louis REALTORS® to stay ahead of the curve. We are excited to invite you to our upcoming webinar, “Adapt & Thrive: Navigating the New Landscape of Real Estate Post-Sitzer v. NAR,” on Wednesday, November 29th at 10:00 AM.

Why This Webinar Is Critical for Your Career The Sitzer v. NAR verdict marks a significant turning point in our industry. This webinar is crafted to help you understand and leverage these changes for your professional growth. Expect to gain:

  • Comprehensive Insights on the Sitzer v. NAR Verdict: Delve into the verdict’s details and its broader legal implications.
  • Industry Impact Evaluation: Discover how these shifts will influence your business and the real estate market at large.
  • Strategies for Navigating Change: Learn effective ways to adapt and thrive in the evolving real estate environment.
  • Exploration of Innovative Tools: Uncover cutting-edge resources to enhance your business operations and market analysis.

Panel of Experienced Voices As your host, Dennis Norman, with 45 years in the St. Louis real estate scene, I aim to share insights that blend practical experience with strategic foresight. Joining me are my business partners, John Williams and John Donati, both seasoned professionals with deep insights into these recent developments. Our collective experience in leadership within the REALTOR® organization and MLS will provide you with a rich perspective on adapting to industry changes.

Growth and Networking Opportunities This webinar is more than a learning experience—it’s a platform for professional growth and networking with peers dedicated to excellence and adaptation in real estate. It’s an avenue for you to connect with trends, tools, and strategies that will define the future of our industry.

Reserve Your Spot Now Ensure your participation in this pivotal discussion by securing your place at the webinar. Visit or scan the QR code below to register. Let’s embark on this journey of growth and adaptation together in the St. Louis real estate market.

New Class Action Lawsuit Targets Major Real Estate Players Following Sitzer Verdict

In a remarkable turn of events, just minutes after the jury sided with the homeseller-plaintiffs in the landmark Sitzer | Burnett trial, attorney Michael Ketchmark wasted no time in launching another legal salvo against the real estate industry. This new class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of three new homesellers, aims to further scrutinize the practices surrounding agent commissions.

The Defendants

This new lawsuit expands the list of defendants to include: Compass, eXp World Holdings, Redfin, Weichert Realtors, United Real Estate, Howard Hanna, and Douglas Elliman. Notably, the National Association of Realtors is once again named as a defendant, marking its continued entanglement in legal challenges related to commission structures.

The Allegations

The plaintiffs in this new case echo the grievances aired in the Sitzer | Burnett lawsuit, claiming they have been adversely affected by a “real estate industry conspiracy” that artificially inflates agent commissions. The suit alleges that this practice has a cascading effect, ultimately driving up costs for homesellers.

Legal Venue

The lawsuit has been filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the same jurisdiction that recently saw the Sitzer | Burnett plaintiffs awarded $1.785 billion in damages.

What This Means for the Industry

The filing of this new lawsuit so swiftly on the heels of the Sitzer | Burnett verdict could signal a wave of legal challenges aimed at traditional real estate commission models. Industry stakeholders will undoubtedly be watching closely as this new case unfolds, given its potential to further disrupt established practices and financial structures within the real estate market.

Beware of Seller Impersonation Fraud: A Real-Life Example and How to Protect Yourself

Seller impersonation fraud, also known as deed fraud, is a growing concern in the real estate industry. This type of fraud involves forging the property owner’s signature to illegally transfer ownership of the property. A recent case in the City of St. Louis serves as a cautionary tale for homeowners.

A Disturbing Case in St. Louis

Bernadette Brown, a member of the Royal Realty Group LLC, recently discovered that a property owned by the LLC at 1129 Penrose Street, St. Louis, MO 63107, was conveyed to Keith Brown via a Quit Claim deed. Bernadette Brown claims her name was forged on the deed, which was then notarized by a non-existent notary. This alarming incident underscores the need for homeowners to be vigilant in monitoring their property records.

How to Protect Yourself

Fortunately, there are several ways homeowners can protect themselves from becoming victims of deed fraud:

Property Fraud Alert Services

Many counties offer free services that alert property owners when deeds or other documents related to their property are filed. Property Fraud Alert is one such service, available in 23 counties in Missouri, including the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, St Charles County, Jefferson, and Franklin. These alerts can serve as an early warning system, allowing you to take immediate action if you suspect fraudulent activity.

Title Reports

If you have concerns about your property, you can order a title report from a local title insurance company for a modest fee. M&I Title* in St. Louis, MO, is one such company that can provide this service. A title report will confirm the name under which the property is registered and identify any deeds of trust against it.


Agents from MORE, REALTORS can assist you by pulling a REALIST report from the MLS at no charge. This report will provide some basic information about your property, offering another layer of protection against fraud.

For more insights and advice on the St. Louis real estate market, stay tuned to

*Disclosure: I have a financial interest in M&I Title.

Do Landlords Have to Allow Support Animals If They Have a No Pet Policy?

With changing regulations, subdivision restrictions, municipal ordinances, state and federal laws, landlords certainly have a lot to keep up with today to make sure they stay compliant in their rental business.   I’ve been in the business over 40 years, have an interest-and a fair understanding of- laws that affect real estate, yet still find it challenging to stay updated. Given this, I can only imagine the challenge faced by someone with a full-time career who also owns rental properties as an investment. Perhaps, this might be a compelling reason to consider hiring a professional property manager for your rentals. However, that decision brings its own complexities, which I’ll delve into in a future article.

A recurring issue for landlords, which prompts many questions from agents in our firm, clients, and other landlords, revolves around service animals. The question is usually framed something like, “I don’t want any pets in my rental properties, so I have a strict no-pet policy but am I obligated to allow dogs or other pets if the tenant claims it’s a ‘service animal’?” Before I go further, let me remind you, I am not an attorney, this isn’t legal advice—in fact, it’s not advice at all. I’m merely sharing what I’ve learned on the topic to heighten awareness of the issue and to encourage those that are not familiar with it to learn what they need to learn or to seek out proper legal guidance to avoid problems.

How the real estate industry is going to be turned upside down and why sellers may no longer have to pay buyer agents

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a sensationalist, nor am I an advocate for everything I write about.  Additionally, I am not an attorney, so this not a legal opinion.  I am simply a real estate broker that has been very active in the profession and industry for over 40 years now.  I strive to stay on top of industry and market changes so that the agents in our firm, MORE, REALTORS®, and their clients can avoid surprises and be prepared.  Another reason I do this is to share what I have learned with consumers.  I believe that by sharing good, relevant and accurate information to consumers, they will be equipped to make better decisions when it comes to buying or selling real estate, including how to choose an agent to best represent them.

The real estate industry is about to be turned upside down as a result of class action lawsuits against the National Association of Realtors So, what is going to turn the real estate industry upside down?

Yes, I made a rather bold statement in my headline, but I believe it to be an accurate depiction of what is coming to the world of residential real estate, including right here in St Louis.  The source of this disruption is not a single entity, but rather many.  While there is a common theme to the multiple threats, they are coming from different sources.  Over the past few months, I have written about all the issues I’m referring to, so below is a summary of them and links to the original articles:

  • Moerhl v NAR Lawsuit. 3/22/2019 – This suit was filed against The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), Realogy Holdings Corp, HomeServices of America, Inc, Re/Max Holdings, Inc and Keller Williams Realty, Inc.  The suit alleges that the defendants were “conspiring to require home sellers to pay the broker representing the buyer of their homes, and to pay at an inflated amount, in violation of federal antitrust law.”  At the heart of this claim is the NAR rule that requires sellers to offer compensation to the buyer’s agent in order to be eligible for listing in the MLS.
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) Complaint against NAR. 12/01/2020.  The DOJ filed a complaint against NAR, as well as a settlement agreement, focused on two primary issues; 1. Allowing buyer brokers to misrepresent to buyers that a buyer broker’s services are free; 2.Enabling buyer brokers to filter MLS listings based on the level of buyer broker commissions offered and to exclude homes with lower commissions from consideration by potential home buyers;


Continue reading “How the real estate industry is going to be turned upside down and why sellers may no longer have to pay buyer agents

CFPB Orders Wells Fargo To Pay $3.7 Billion…Includes more than $2 B in redress to consumers

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released details of a Consent Order they reached with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in which Wells Fargo is ordered to pay “more than $2 billion in redress to consumers and a $1.7 billion civil penalty for legal violations across several of its largest product lines.”  According to a press release issued by the CFPB, Wells Fargo’s “..illegal conduct led to billions of dollars in financial harm to its customers and, for thousands of customers, the loss of their vehicles and homes.”   Rohit Chopra, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, stated “Wells Fargo’s rinse-repeat cycle of violating the law has harmed millions of American families”.

The CFPB order requires Wells Fargo to: 

  • Provide more than $2 billion in redress to consumers: Wells Fargo will be required to pay redress totaling more than $2 billion to harmed customers. These payments represent refunds of wrongful fees and other charges and compensation for a variety of harms such as frozen bank accounts, illegally repossessed vehicles, and wrongfully foreclosed homes. Specifically, Wells Fargo will have to pay:
    • More than $1.3 billion in consumer redress for affected auto lending accounts.
    • More than $500 million in consumer redress for affected deposit accounts, including $205 million for illegal surprise overdraft fees.
    • Nearly $200 million in consumer redress for affected mortgage servicing accounts.
  • Stop charging surprise overdraft fees: Wells Fargo may not charge overdraft fees for deposit accounts when the consumer had available funds at the time of a purchase or other debit transaction, but then subsequently had a negative balance once the transaction settled. Surprise overdraft fees have been a recurring issue for consumers who can neither reasonably anticipate nor take steps to avoid them.
  • Ensure auto loan borrowers receive refunds for certain add-on fees: Wells Fargo must ensure that the unused portion of GAP contracts, a type of debt cancellation contract that covers the remaining amount of the borrower’s auto loan in the case of a major accident or theft, is refunded to the borrower when a loan is paid off or otherwise terminates early.
  • Pay $1.7 billion in penalties: Wells Fargo will pay a $1.7 billion penalty to the CFPB, which will be deposited into the CFPB’s victims relief fund.

To get more information on the CFPB victims relief fund, click here.

Wells Fargo employees who are aware of other illegal activity are encouraged to send information about what they know to


Appellant Court Overturns Lower Court Dismissal of Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against the National Association of REALTORS®

The past several days have not been good for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) from a legal perspective at least.

First, last Friday, April 22, 2022, Stephen R. Bough, a Federal Judge for in the Western District of Missouri, certified a lawsuit against NAR as a class action suit.The suit, known as the “Sitzer” suit as the original plaintiffs were Joshua Sitzer and Amy Winger, alleges that the defendant, the National Association of REALTORS®created and implemented anticompetitive rules which require home sellers to pay commission to the broker representing the home buyer“.  The plaintiffs in the suit also allege that the other defendants, which include Realogy Holdings Corp, Homeservices of America, Inc.,  Re/MAX LLC and Keller Williams Realty, Inc., “enforce those rules through anticompetitive practices.”  I believe this action by the court was expected and likely did not come as a surprise to anyone but it was not good news for NAR or the other defendants.  In the coming days I’ll be doing an in-depth article on this one.

Then, yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit delivered another and this time, a likely unexpected, blow to the National Association of REALTORS® in the form of a reversal of a suit against NAR that had been dismissed previously by a lower court.  The suit, v. the National Association of REALTORS®, is another suit alleging anti-trust violations by NAR and the other defendants which are all MLS’s.  The suit was brought originally by as a result of NAR enacting its “Clear Cooperation Policy” which for all intents and purposes, dictates to agents and brokers how and when they can market their listings.  I’ve written several articles specifically on this policy in the past which can be found using the following links:

Continue reading “Appellant Court Overturns Lower Court Dismissal of Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against the National Association of REALTORS®

Control your investments with self-directed IRA investing

Jeremy Vlasich  I have a lot of people ask me about what to invest in and how.  Not every time, but often, the self-directed IRA investments can be great options for people that are in the real estate industry.  For this post, I wanted to go over the basic concept and give some actual real-life examples.  Once you read this, if you still need help or have questions, you are more than welcome to reach out.  We are here to serve and help!

What is an IRA and what does a “self-directed” IRA mean?  This is an Individual Retirement Account.  There are two options:

  • Roth IRA – contributions are post-tax and then the growth is tax-free for life
  • Traditional IRA – contributions are pre-tax and then the growth deferred

During the 2020 year, you can contribute $6k a year and add $1k if you are over 50. There are income limits for contributions for the Roth IRA and the tax-deductible traditional.  However, you can always contribute to the traditional but the income limit determines if the IRA is tax-deductible or not.  All traditional IRA’s are tax-deferred.  The Roth IRA is the only tax-free growth IRA.

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Transparency in the home buying process including buyer’s agent commissions

Buyers Agent Commission TransparencyIn December I wrote about multiple class-action lawsuits filed against the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), as well as some of the largest real estate brokerages, like ReMax and Keller Williams as well as a Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint filed again NAR over issues related to the lack of transparency in the home buying process.

The aforementioned complaints claim, among other things, that there has been an effort by the defendants to force buyers to pay an “inflated” price for a home as a result of the buyer not realizing the seller was forced to offer a commission to a buyer’s agent in order to get their listing in the MLS.  In addition, they claim that NAR and its members misrepresented to buyers that a buyer’s agent’s representation and services were “free”, when in fact their agent was being paid a commission,  which came from the seller and as a result, they claim this expense inflated the cost the buyer was forced to pay for the home.

I’m not here to address the accuracy of the claims made in these complaints nor get into an analysis of the legal merits of the case, but instead just want to address the changes I see that have already taken place or will take place in the home-buying process.  NAR has already reached a settlement with the DOJ in which they (NAR) agreed to make several changes, so those are pretty easy to predict and I think I have a reasonable idea of some other changes that will come along in the comings months as well.

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So, what are these changes I see coming to the home-buying process in terms of transparency?

Below are some of the changes I already see or expect to see:

  • Buyer’s agents aren’t FREE, nor should they be.  NAR has already agreed to prohibit their members from claiming their services are free as they are not.  A good buyer’s agent is invaluable to a home buyer and not only will earn the commission they make but in many cases,  will “pay for themselves”.   What I mean by this is their guidance and advice to their clients, which comes from their knowledge of the market and process, as well as experience, will help their clients avoid pitfalls and to make informed, good decisions.
  • Commission transparency.  Prior to the lawsuits, many MLS’s around the country, including the one that serves the St Louis area, prohibited the amount of commission being offered to a buyer’s agent by the seller from being shown on broker’s real estate search websites.  MARIS, the company that provides the MLS for St Louis area REALTORS® was quick and pro-active in this area and began allowing brokers to display buyer’s agent’s commission on their websites.  I’m happy to say that my company, MORE, REALTORS® was, I believe, one of the first brokerages in the area to begin displaying this information.  On consumers can find the amount of commission being offered to buyer’s agents on listings.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention I’m on the board of directors for MARIS and I’m an officer and shareholder of MORE, REALTORS.
  • Sellers won’t have to offer to pay a buyer’s agent to get in the MLS.  While the first two bullet-points above are things that have happened, now I’m predicting what will happen.  I believe that soon, perhaps as soon as “months” or as long as a year or two, the MLS requirement that a seller offers compensation to a buyer’s agent to have their listing be in the MLS will be dropped.  This is nothing that should cause panic as buyer’s agents won’t go away nor work for free, it’s just the structure of the transaction will change.  The changes made will no doubt provide a much greater level of transparency to the buyer though as I believe they will have a clear picture of the process including how their buyer’s agent is getting paid.
  • Agents won’t have to be REALTORS® to be part of the MLS.  Even though this is already true in several parts of the country, most MLS’s require that agents be a REALTOR® (so be a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)) to join the MLS.  I believe that all MLS’s in the country will be forced to allow participation by all licensed real estate brokers and agents and not just REALTORS®.  I think my prior prediction will come to fruition sooner and this one will follow so it will likely be a couple of years at least before this happens.

The bottom line is some obstacles exist today for the real estate industry as well as there are changes taking place and more coming.  While many folks don’t embrace change, call me a Pollyanna, but I think the result will be positive both for the real estate professional as well as the consumer that is buying or selling a home.

I’ll close with a quote on the topic of obstacles that I frequently share on a coaching session I do for our agents that is from Victor Kiam (the Remington razor guy) – “….there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity…


Remembering Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is best known as a leader in the Civil Rights movement, I wanted to look at how his efforts also ultimately resulted in the Fair Housing Act, which sought to end discrimination in housing.

Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools, and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Fair Housing Resources:

Is Real Estate Essential?

Need I answer?  Given the title of this site and if you have been here before you probably are aware I’ve been in the real estate business ever since graduating high school some 41 years ago, I’m going to guess you know I’m going to say “of course it is”.  On a more serious note though, my headline poses the question in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in a stay at home order for several counties in Missouri and, effective tomorrow night at midnight, the entire state of Missouri.

One of the exceptions in all of the stay at home orders has been for people working in “essential services” which in some of the orders is defined in detail and others in a more general fashion.  In determining whether a business is essential there are many easy ones to figure out such as anything related to the medical or health industry, public safety, sanitation, etc.  However, when it comes to other businesses such as those related to residential real estate such as agents, appraisers, home inspectors, loan officers, etc, it’s not always so clear.  Locally, within the St Louis area whle real estate may not have been named specifically as an essential service, after legal review and discussion within the industry, it has been determined that real estate activities do in fact fall within the definition of essential services.

State of Missouri Stay at Home Order allows for real estate activities…

The stay at home order issued by the State of Missouri allows an exception for essential services but instead of defining what is included in those services, it defers to the guidance issued by the U.S.Department of Homeland Security.  Included in the guidance as “essential functions” are “residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services.”

Safety first…

Throughout the real estate industry, there has been much attention given to what functions can be safely done if CDC and other health and safety guidelines are adhered to, such as private showings of homes, and which ones should not be done such as a traditional open house with groups of people coming through.  With these practices in place, along with utilizing technology for things such as virtual showings, agents have been able to serve their buyer and seller clients and facilitate sales.

Why it’s important…

I believe the inclusion of real estate activities as essential makes sense.  For one, we are talking about a large segment of the population that is all, for the most part, small businesses as each real estate agent are their own business.  They don’t get paid if they can’t carry out their real estate business, there are no salaries for agents. In addition, it’s not just the agents, it’s all the other professions involved in the transaction, building inspectors, lenders, title companies, survey companies, warranty companies, home repair, staging, movers and so on.  So if we shut down residential real estate entirely we are shutting down a huge part of our economy and likely putting a ton of small businesses out of business.

Also, it’s more than just the livelihood of those involved.  While some buyers are going to retreat from the market for now and wait until later, there are others that have reasons they need to move and want to buy.  For example, there are still people getting married, moving into or out of town for a job, have growing families or other needs or motivations causing them to want to move now.  For sellers, some may prefer to wait but for others, particularly those suffering financially from a job loss or business closing may be under the gun to get their home sold and really can’t wait.

So, just like workers in other essential services that are there to provide those needed services to their customers and clients, real estate agents are here to do the same for those people that do need to transact business during these challenging times.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Life Work Led To Fair Housing In America

Today, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is best known as a leader in the Civil Rights movement, I wanted to look at how his efforts also ultimately resulted in the Fair Housing Act, which sought to end discrimination in housing.

Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Fair Housing Resources:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resources and information…

Meth Labs and Real Estate

Yesterday, someone shared with me an article that appeared on CBS News online about a couple, Tyler and Elisha Hessel, that discovered the house they purchased had previously been the subject of a meth lab seizure.  The home, at 7218 Valley Drive in Barnhart, Missouri, was purchased by the Hessel’s in January of 2018.   According to the article, Elisha is expecting a baby and, earlier this year, the results of some standard pregnancy-related tests showed the baby tested positive for amphetamines.  This led to the Hessel’s discovering that the home they purchased was on a list of Meth Lab Seizures from a bust back on October 3, 2013.  The article goes on to state that the Hessel’s have been forced to move out of the home for health reasons and a Go Fund Me campaign has been set up for them at

Meth Labs have been a real problem in Jefferson County

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Should you buy a new home directly from the builder?

Some new home buyers believe that if they buy a new home directly from the builder or the builder’s sales person, they will get a better price.  But is this true?  Do you get a better deal buying a new home directly from the builder?

First, we should address a “better deal” and what constitutes a good “deal”.  If it is strictly price, then, while I think it is somewhat short-sided on the part of the buyer and falls in that “penny-wise, dollar-foolish” category, in some instances, with some builders, the builder will save some cost by you buying from their agent.  This is the result of the builder having an agent that will get paid less commission that the builder would pay a buyer’s agent then if the builder chooses to pass that savings along to the buyer, rather than keep it, the buyer should receive a better price.  However, just like the possible savings motivated the buyer to deal directly with the builder, it is unrealistic to think that a builder is not going to feel the same and be motivated to have a better profit margin dealing directly with the buyer and instead would choose to forego the savings and give it to the buyer in the price. Plus, most builders appreciate and understand, the vital role a buyer’s agent plays in the transaction and wants to encourage agents to show and sell their homes, so they typically avoid doing things that look like they are trying to cut an agent out of a deal by dealing directly with the buyer.

Continue reading “Should you buy a new home directly from the builder?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paved The Path For Fair Housing

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a name synonymous with civil rights who, along with his followers, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resources and information…



What To Look Out For In Credit Repair Companies

The housing bubble that led to the housing bubble burst in 2008 started a decline in the value of homes, including those in St Louis, for the following 3 to 4 years.  This resulted in a much larger number of homeowners facing financial struggles including late payments, foreclosures, short sales, bankruptcy and the like, than was the historic norm.  As a result, while maybe not a new concept but certainly one that had been more obscure in the past, credit repair, became a lucrative and growing business as consumers sought to repair the damage done and position themselves to buy a home.

In St Louis, there are many companies offering credit repair services, with many making some pretty enticing sounding claims with regard to removal of negative items from your credit, improving your credit score in a short time period and so on.  While there are reputable companies out there doing a good job for St Louis homebuyers looking to improve their credit no doubt, there are also some that are probably not doing much more for the consumer than they could easily do on their own or, worse yet, perhaps very little at all for the fee paid.

How do you find a good credit repair company in St Louis?

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Zillow Under Investigation By CFPB Over Co-Marketing Program With Real Estate Agents

Zillow, the behemoth real estate search site, revealed in it’s Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this month for first quarter 2017, that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is investigating some practices by Zillow.  According to the filing, what is under review is their co-marketing program in which the CFPB is alleging that Zillow violated parts of both RESPA as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Act.  The complete Form 10-Q can be viewed here.  On page 40 (outlined in red by me) is the section where Zillow makes this disclosure, and I have pasted that section of the report below as well (the emphasis and color have been done by me).

Excerpt from Zillow’s 10-Q –
“In April 2017, we received a Civil Investigative Demand from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) requesting information related to our March 2017 response to the CFPB’s February 2017 Notice and Opportunity to Respond and Advise (“NORA”) letter. The NORA letter notified us that the CFPB’s Office of Enforcement is considering whether to recommend that the CFPB take legal action against us, alleging that we violated Section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) and Section 1036 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The purpose of a NORA letter is to provide a party being investigated an opportunity to present its position to the CFPB before an enforcement action may be recommended or commenced. This notice stems from an inquiry that commenced in 2015 when we received and responded to an initial Civil Investigative Demand from the CFPB containing a broad request for information. We believe our response to the NORA letter addresses the CFPB’s concerns related to our co-marketing program under which a lender pays us to appear in advertising alongside a real estate agent. We are continuing to cooperate with the CFPB in connection with their most recent request for information. We continue to believe that our acts and practices are lawful and that our co-marketing program allows lenders and agents to comply with RESPA. Should the CFPB commence an action against us, it may seek restitution, civil monetary penalties, injunctive relief or other corrective action. We cannot provide assurance that the CFPB will not ultimately commence a legal action against us in this matter, nor are we able to predict the likely outcome of the investigation into this matter. We have not recorded an accrual related to this matter as of March 31, 2017 or December 31, 2016, as we do not believe a loss is probable. There is a reasonable possibility that a loss may be incurred; however, the possible loss or range of loss is not estimable.”

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What Is A Villa?

An ever-increasing number of aging baby boomers are becoming empty nesters and coming to the realization they no longer need that 3, 4 or even 5 bedroom home they own.  In addition, many of them, also find themselves tired of the upkeep that comes with the big house on the large lot.  These issues, along with a desire for a lifestyle change, has led to a growing demand for alternative types of housing including condominiums and villas with the latter being the most popular.

What exactly is a “villa”?

The interesting thing is, even though the demand for villa’s has skyrocketed, saw a 95% increase in sessions during the past 30 days from a year ago for example,  many buyers, and even real estate agents, have difficulty defining what a “villa” is.  Many buyers, and even real estate agents, assume all villa’s are condominiums, which is not so.  Most think villas are one-story with no exterior maintenance for the villa owner to worry about as the association takes care of everything and, while that may be true in some cases, that is not true in most.

When I talk with people that say they are interested in a villa and ask them what they are looking for in a “villa” what I find is that most will describe a lifestyle more than a particular architectural style of home or type of ownership.  Granted, it’s not that important that home buyers know what a villa is, as what they care about is that whatever housing they are looking at will meet their needs.  However, I do think it’s important for buyers to understand the different types of ownership villas may have as well as have an understanding of what to look for in terms of what the villa association actually takes care of or maintains.

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What Exactly Is A “Coming Soon” Listing?

While it’s not a new thing, there have certainly been a lot more “coming soon” riders on for sale signs in yards over the past couple of years than in prior years.  This has created some questions among home buyers, particularly when they ask their buyer’s agent about seeing a listing are told it is not available to be shown yet, then later see the rider on the for sale sign change from “coming soon” to “sale pending”.  So, what’s the deal with “coming soon” listings?

The good and the bad of coming soon listings:

The Good – Many good listing agents use “coming soon” as a way of generating interest in their client’s (the seller) home in advance of it hitting the market, perhaps while the seller is completing repairs or tweaks suggested by the listing agent or the agent is finalizing marketing materials.  Typically, this is done for a short period, perhaps a week or two, and then the agent makes it known to everyone the date the listing will be available for viewing which, when done on a properly priced listing in a market with reasonable demand, results in multiple showings the first day or two the listing is available for viewing, which is good for the seller and often results in a quick sale at, or near, the list price.

The Bad – While it’s rare, there are some listing agents that use “coming soon” as a way of trying to keep the listing to themselves.  They use it to attempt to force potential home buyers to contact them for info and to avoid having to cooperate with another agent on the sale, thereby saving both sides of the commission for themselves.  As I said, this is rare as most agents out there take their fiduciary responsibility to the seller seriously and practice their craft in an honest and ethical manner, however, it only takes a few to spoil it for all.

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Florissant Tramples the Rights of Landlords and Tenants With Passage of Crime Free Bill

On October 10th (well, technically October 11th since the final vote was not taken until reportedly 1:00 am) the city of Florissant dealt it’s latest blow to landlords and tenants.  The blow by way of  Crime Free Bill No. 9226 which was introduced by the Florissant City Council as a whole and was passed unanimously by the council in spite of opposition to the bill expressed by the St Louis Association of REALTORS, EHOC and others.  I have provided below a complete copy of Article XVII: Residential Real Estate of the city of Florissant ordinances as this was the section that was changed by the bill.

Highlights of changes as a result of Crime-Free Bill No. 9226:

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