Behind the scenes of the lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors : Planet Money In 2019, Mike Ketchmark got a call. Mike is a lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri, and his friend, Brandon Boulware, another lawyer, was calling about a case he wanted Mike to get involved with. Mike was an unusual choice - he's a personal injury lawyer, and this was going to be an antitrust case.

But Brandon knew Mike was great in front of a jury. And that he'd won huge settlements for his clients in the past.

So the lawyer friend drops by Mike's office, and pitches him the case. Rhonda and Scott Burnett had just sold their home for $250,000, and out of that amount, they had paid $15,000 in commission (plus a small fee), which was split between two real estate agents - even though they had hired only one. And the commission was high - 6%. Mike's friend said the whole thing seemed... suspicious. Maybe even illegal.

Mike agreed to take the case, a case that would soon become bigger than one about just what had happened to the Burnetts. It would become a fight about the way homes are bought and sold in the U.S. and challenge the way real estate agents have done business for more than 100 years.

This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Keith Romer. It was produced by Willa Rubin, edited by Keith Romer, engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez, and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+
in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

The real estate industry on trial

The real estate industry on trial

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In 2019, Mike Ketchmark got a call. Mike is a lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri, and his friend, Brandon Boulware, another lawyer, was calling about a case he wanted Mike to get involved with. Mike was an unusual choice - he's a personal injury lawyer, and this was going to be an antitrust case.

But Brandon knew Mike was great in front of a jury. And that he'd won huge settlements for his clients in the past.

So the lawyer friend drops by Mike's office, and pitches him the case. Rhonda and Scott Burnett had just sold their home for $250,000, and out of that amount, they had paid $15,000 in commission (plus a small fee), which was split between two real estate agents - even though they had hired only one. And the commission was high - 6%. Mike's friend said the whole thing seemed... suspicious. Maybe even illegal.

Mike agreed to take the case, a case that would soon become bigger than one about just what had happened to the Burnetts. It would become a fight about the way homes are bought and sold in the U.S. and challenge the way real estate agents have done business for more than 100 years.

This episode was hosted by Amanda Aronczyk and Keith Romer. It was produced by Willa Rubin, edited by Keith Romer, engineered by Valentina Rodríguez Sánchez, and fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Alex Goldmark is Planet Money's executive producer.

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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Music: Universal Production Music - "Jazz Club Beat," "Stop The Missiles," and "This Is Not Goodbye"