Active Rain August 20, 2010

Um..Folks? Anti- Trust? Price Fixing? Liability 101

Just a friendly reminder from a New York -based broker swimming in the shark tank of liability that discussions between brokers on commissions, M & Ms, jelly beans, or anything relating to compensation for brokering real estate is a big problem and potential liability for your broker. Two agents constitute discussions between two brokerages. 

Big problem. Not a little problem. A big problem. I am talking about a 5-figure fine. Capeesh? 

Do Not Tempt Fate

If an agent from Broker A brings up commissions to an agent from Broker B,  if the Broker B does anything other than, say, run away or politely change the subject, the two brokerages could be engaging in price fixing. This is not reactionary, goody two shoes or paranoid. Cases brought up on Sherman Anti-Trust examples include a broker announcing at a cocktail party that he was raising his commission within earshot of other brokers. It doesn’t matter if the post is Members Only, veiled in jelly beans, or only discusses a buyer agent commission. You expose yourself and your broker to massive liability in bringing up or engaging another licensee on the subject, and there is no upside to the matter. It is simply not an envelope prudent licensees should ever push. 

One blog post on Active Rain this morning even had discussions of boycotting a broker who didn’t pay enough. Another comment mentioned an industry standard. Talk about a hornet nest. 

All commissions are negotiable. Period. You do what is in the best interest of the client. Period. 

If you disagree with me, ask the compliance officer at your association. Watch his lips quiver. You simply cannot do it, and especially on a platform with Active Rain’s reach, you can cause catostrophic damage to your firm. If you have to ask if it is an anti-trust problem, it probably is.