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REALTORS ® Invite Antitrust Scrutiny When They Engage in These Dangerous Words and Phrases
By Scott Bush
Real estate brokers or salespeople who act as if there is a conspiracy among competitors in order to not cooperate with another competitor, or in order to deal with them only on terms established by the conspirators, are as vulnerable to an antitrust lawsuit as those who actually do conspire. Salesperson comments that create such troublesome inferences of boycott conspiracies include:

  • “Before you list with XYZ Realty, you should know that nobody works on their listings.”
  • “The MLS will not accept their listings because they charge a flat fee.”
  • “If they were truly professional, they would not allow part-timers to work for them.”
  • “I bet they’d drop their ‘discount’ program if we told them they couldn’t market or sell our listings.”

Brokers whose salespeople make comments such as these to buyers, sellers, or persons affiliated with other firms will find their ability to adjust the terms and conditions upon which they cooperate with other firms severely restricted. Case law clearly establishes that brokers are free to choose unilaterally to lower the compensation offered to one or more particular firms, including “discount” or “alternative service” firms. But if a broker does so only after discussing the “problem,” even casually, with other firms, the inference may be drawn that this action was pursuant to a conspiracy to boycott the other firm. This is especially true if, as is often the case, other firms in the market make similar contemporaneous decisions to lower their compensation offers to the same firm.

Licensees asked to compare their firm’s commission split policies with those of other firms should explain that the amount of cooperative compensation is designed to maximize the incentive of cooperating offices to sell the listing. On the other hand, a licensee who works for a firm which offers a lesser amount to cooperating firms than may be “typical” for that market must be prepared to explain why this difference will not detract from the objective of attracting the efforts of cooperating brokers and securing a satisfactory transaction in the shortest period of time.
Leading By Example
Submit Your Positive Industry Related Story
for the Chance to Win a Gift Card to The Bartolotta Restaurants
Unfortunately, the general consensus from our members is that poor behavior in our market has been a significant problem. That is one of the reasons the GMAR created this ethics-focused newsletter. Through our new strategic plan, the GMAR and its Board of Directors are focused on improving the ethics and professional courtesies of our business.
At the GMAR, we hear many stories about poor agent behavior and we think it’s time we hear some positive stories about our members! Did you have a transaction where the co-broke or listing broker went the extra mile? Is there a REALTOR® that you enjoy working with because they know how to problem solve and make transactions go smoother? Would you like to share an inspirational story about a competitor? We can all learn from those who lead by example.
We will select and publish these inspirational stories through January 30, 2020. Following that time frame, the GMAR will select two winners, at-random, from all published entries. Both the REALTOR® who submitted the story and the GMAR Member (who is the subject of the story) will win a $100 gift card for The Bartolotta Restaurants compliments of Milwaukee HomeSight Inc.
Submit your entries to the GMAR:

We look forward to hearing your positive stories!
NAR Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) Program is Raising the Bar for REALTOR ® Professionalism
The National Association of REALTORS ® proudly introduces Commitment to Excellence, a cutting-edge program that empowers REALTORS ® to evaluate, enhance, and showcase the highest levels of professionalism. As members, you can get started today by logging into the page below and taking the self-assessment that measures your proficiency in each of the elements of professionalism, known as the C2EX Competencies. Based on your results, the platform will generate customized learning paths, recommend experiences, and provide tools and resources to increase your knowledge and enhance your skill-sets. We encourage you to check out the C2EX program, and pass it along to others in your office and our industry who would benefit from the assessment.
We hope you enjoyed Issue #20 of Ethics Exchange 2019 brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS ® (GMAR). The GMAR created this newsletter, each issue dedicated to a unique issue, because the REALTOR ® Code of Ethics, on which our industry is built, is the foundation of what it means to be a REALTOR ® .
Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS ® , as well as members of the public, that every member of GMAR operates under the highest ethical standards.
Questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue can be directed to
Scott Bush at the GMAR Office (414-778-4929 or