Sherman Antitrust Laws

Sherman antitrust laws prohibit price fixing, group boycotting, the allocation of customers or markets, and tie-in agreements.

Price fixing is prohibited. This means that competing brokers, real estate governing bodies, or multiple listing organizations cannot agree to set sale conditions, fees, or management rates.

Group boycotting is also illegal under the antitrust laws. This means that two or more brokers cannot conspire against another business, or agree to withhold their patronage to reduce competition.

The allocation of markets or customers would occur when brokers agree to divide their markets or customers and not compete for the other’s business.

Tie-in agreements are also illegal. For example, a real estate broker owns 10 acres of vacant land. A builder wants to buy the land, but the broker refuses to sell unless the builder agrees to list the property with the brokerage firm. This tie-in arrangement is illegal.

An individual may be fined a maximum of $100,000 and be sentenced up to three years in prison—and a corporation may be fined up to $1 million—for breach of the Sherman antitrust laws. In a civil suit, an aggrieved person may recover up to triple the value of the actual damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs.