COURT REPORT: Realtor.com Sues CoStar; EXIT Granted Pause Despite Plaintiff Objections


Editor’s note: The COURT REPORT is RISMedia’s weekly look at current and upcoming lawsuits, investigations and other legal developments around real estate.

Realtor.com® parent Move, Inc. files lawsuit against CoStar

Realtor.com parent company Move, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in California, claiming that a former Move employee now working for Homes.com parent CoStar Group stole proprietary information, helping Homes.com expand its burgeoning business.

Move, owned by the Rupert Murdoch-led media company News Corp, wrote in its complaint that James Kaminsky, “a former Move employee, now working for Move’s direct competitor CoStar, systematically invaded Move’s secure computer systems, secretly exfiltrated Move’s trade secrets, and spied on Move’s real-time confidential electronic documents to give CoStar a massive unfair competitive advantage and to help CoStar increase traffic to its competing real estate listing website, all to the detriment of Move.

“There is nothing wrong with lawful—even intense—competition. But competitors should never be allowed to cheat and steal to get ahead.”

Move is requesting a jury trial and damages.

This comes just a few weeks after the Realtor.com and Homes.com CEOs launched insults and accusations at each other, as they are both competing for the No. 2 residential real estate portal spot.

“This is a PR stunt that is already backfiring. Realtor.com is losing the battle with Homes.com, and its attempt to change the story doesn’t change that reality. We look forward to prevailing in court,” a CoStar spokesperson told RISMedia.

NAR and DOJ meeting

Industry leaders and stakeholders are trying to keep their relationship with the DOJ amicable ahead of the August 17 deadline, when major changes mandated by NAR’s settlement agreement are set to go into effect.

The latest dialogue was highlighted by a recent meeting between the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Incoming policy changes and DOJ concerns regarding settlement provisions were topics at the forefront, according to NAR.

“While there is much more work to be done, the meeting was productive as we try to find ‘common ground’ on topics that define how we do business and support the dream of homeownership in America,” wrote NAR President Kevin Sears in a memo to members, obtained by RISMedia. He claimed that the meeting was a big step in having “a meaningful dialogue” with the DOJ.

“To be clear: NAR—and I personally—oppose any attempts to circumvent the settlement,” Sears continued. “The practice changes should be implemented fully and in good faith, in the service of promoting consumer empowerment, consumer choice and healthy competition.”

Largest seller copycat case gets 2027 trial date

Some brokerages may still face a jury in one of the ongoing commission class-action lawsuits, despite over a dozen settling in recent months.

Judge Stephen R. Bough, who oversaw the Burnett case, has set a trial date for the central national copycat lawsuit which has sought to include every major brokerage that did not receive immunity from the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) settlement. 

The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 8, 2027, three and a half years from now and almost exactly four years after the Burnett verdict sparked a landslide of copycat cases and precipitated fundamental changes in how real estate commissions are paid.

This case is being filed by the same lawyers behind Burnett and Moehrl, the two original commission cases that alleged NAR and big brokerages conspired to inflate costs and harm consumers.

The new case is a consolidated version of two lawsuits known as Umpa and Gibson. Thirty-five entities are named in the most recent version of the lawsuit, and 13 have already announced settlements. Keller Williams is the only firm that has received final approval from a judge on its deal.

The Umpa/Gibson trial is scheduled to take the same length of time as Burnett was—three weeks—despite significantly more defendants.

EXIT Realty faces pushback, but gets temporary relief after opt-in

Despite facing pushback from Gibson plaintiffs, EXIT Realty was granted a temporary pause after their decision to opt into the NAR settlement, as the brokerage continues to spar with plaintiffs.

EXIT had requested an indefinite stay in the case—the largest class-action Burnett copycat lawsuit filed by sellers—saying they had opted into the NAR settlement and would begin mediation with plaintiffs. Plaintiffs urged a judge to deny the request, claiming that EXIT cannot in fact opt-in to the settlement, and claimed there was no settlement amount agreed to and plaintiffs had not signed off on the opt-in.

In a ruling last week, Judge Stephen R. Bough, who is overseeing the case, granted a 30 day pause to EXIT, saying that he had balanced the requests of both sides and decided on a temporary 30-day pause which will not be extended outside of “extraordinary circumstances.”

Plaintiffs noted that EXIT had already sought and received an extension on deadlines in the Gibson case, and could not argue that the current July 15 deadline to respond to the plaintiffs amended complaint constituted a “hardship.” 

The terms of the NAR settlement state that any brokerage that reported more than $2 billion in transactions during the calendar year of 2022 will have to pay 0.25% of the average of their last four calendar years of transaction volume in order to be eligible to opt in. In addition, these companies can opt in only if they had a principal who was a member of NAR, or who participated on any MLS during the last four years.





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