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Help! My Client Received This Postcard


One of my past clients received a postcard regarding the Burnett vs. NAR class action lawsuit. What should I say to my client?


There is no way the Hotline lawyer can tell any broker what the broker should say to the former client but this answer will provide some ideas for broker to consider. Every REALTOR® should think, in advance, about what they will say to a former client who receives this postcard (or email). Many who have sold property in the last several years are receiving the notification and their REALTOR® is a person they are likely to contact for information.
The postcard (or email) notifies the recipient that they may be eligible as class members in the settlement of the Burnett vs. National Association of REALTORS® lawsuit. This is one of the antitrust lawsuits discussed within the industry in recent years. The notification stems from a partial settlement funded by three of the defendants in that action. To claim eligibility, recipients must meet criteria outlined on the postcard, including having sold property that was listed on any MLS and paid a broker as part of the sale. In Washington, a qualifying sale occurred between October 31, 2019 and February 1, 2024. 
As you consider the response you will give a former client who asks you about the settlement, remember that this is not personal. You are not financially liable to the former client as a result of the settlement and your personal reputation will not be impacted by any decision the former client makes with regard to claiming eligibility.

Whether the recipient chooses to claim eligibility or not is entirely up to them and if they need assistance in making their decision, you should advise the former client to talk to their own lawyer. Your assurance, however, should be that whatever decision they make must be the best decision for them and that it will have no negative impact on you.
You may also want to use this communication with the former client as an opportunity to remind them of the value you and your firm gave them when they needed to sell property. Discuss the role you played in helping them achieve their objective, highlighting the specific benefits and services you provided. Your goal will be to reinforce the positive impact of your professional relationship without being defensive. Remember, this is not an attack on you or your firm. 
Finally, you may want to inform them about recent efforts by your REALTOR® association to support changes in Washington law that enhance transparency and empower buyers and sellers. Explain how recent changes in Washington law require upfront negotiations between consumers and brokers regarding compensation and services, ensuring that buyers and sellers have a clear understanding of what to expect at the outset of their relationship with a real estate broker. This context can help clients appreciate the evolving real estate landscape and how it benefits them. Refer them to for helpful resources around recent Agency Law changes.
Maintaining open, informative, and supportive communication with your former clients can help them navigate concerns they may have about the notification and its implications, while also reinforcing the value and professionalism of your service.