Realtors file lawsuit against Sea Coast Realty claiming company retained millions in commissions owed to agents
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A lawsuit filed against Sea Coast Realty, Inc., claims the company retained millions in real estate commissions that were owed to current and former agents.
The class action complaint was filed last month by four individuals who had previously worked for Sea Coast Realty as real estate brokers.
According to the suit, the company and agents entered an agreement in which any real estate services that resulted in a commission being paid to Sea Coast, the company and plaintiffs were entitled to a share based on an agreed-upon commission schedule.
“Plaintiffs understood that the six percent Coldwell Banker Franchise Fee that was deducted from each sales commission was, in fact, a six percent fee that would be paid to Sea Coast’s franchisor, Coldwell Banker,” the filing states.
“Under the terms of the Agreement, the remaining commission amount, i.e. the amount left after Sea Coast deducted the six percent Coldwell Banker Franchise fee, is split between the agent and Sea Coast according to the agreed-upon split in the commission schedule.”
The suit goes on to state that Coldwell Banker reduced the franchise fee that Sea Coast pays “by a significant amount, to as low as three percent.” The plaintiffs claim that Sea Coast failed to alert the agents to this reduction.
“Sea Coast’s continued practice of deducting a six percent Coldwell Banker Franchise fee, after the fee was reduced by Coldwell Banker to as little as three percent, resulted in an altered commission split that fundamentally changed the payment terms in the agreed-upon Commission Schedule, thereby breaching the material terms of the Agreement,” the complaint states. “This altered commission split resulted in Seacoast enriching itself at the expense of the Plaintiffs and other Sea Coast agents because Sea Coast repeatedly retained a larger percentage of each sales commission than it was entitled to under the Agreement.”
“Under the altered commission split, Plaintiffs and other Sea Coast agents received a smaller percentage of the total commission than they were entitled to under the terms of the Agreement.”
The plaintiffs are asking for a judgment in excess of $25,000 as well as attorneys’ fees paid.
Gary Shipman, the attorney representing Sea Coast Realty, released a statement saying:
“The notion that any of our current or former agents/brokers have been “overcharged” is a complete fabrication. We take pride in having delivered to each and every one of our current and former agents/brokers everything that we have committed to provide and we have alway focused on their success. The allegations represent a gross misunderstanding of what Sea Coast has provided or attempted to provide. We have been incredibly humbled by the overwhelming show of support we have received from our team members, who have likewise expressed to us their beliefs that this lawsuit is frivolous. We intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit.”
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