Last week I was in New York. I was in town for a meeting with CNBC, and Armando Tam was in town to meet with our local NAHREP chapters in the area. On Tuesday, we were having breakfast at the Soho Grand Hotel and were seated next to a young white couple who seemed annoyed. It turns out they had been waiting an excessive amount of time for their breakfast to arrive. Once it did arrive, they ate their food and defiantly told their server that they weren’t going to pay their bill and stormed out. The server calmly said “Ok” and proceeded to clear their table. I have to admit, I was a bit shocked because I had never seen anything like that before. The couple was so matter of fact with their declaration, and the server didn’t even blink. We’ve all been subject to bad service at restaurants before, but it never occurred to me that not paying the bill was an option. I know that not everything is about race, but Armando and I did discuss whether the restaurant’s reaction would have been different if the patrons were Black… or Hispanic for that matter. It made us think about the two Black men in Philly who were arrested in Starbucks for no reason and whether the public would have been as sympathetic if it turned out they had refused to pay their bill because of bad service. I can honestly say that I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.
This week, in a brief to the judge of a major antitrust lawsuit known as Nosalek, the U.S. Department of Justice called for decoupling buyer and seller agent representation. If the DOJ gets what it wants, it would mean that listing agents would no longer be permitted to share their commissions with agents representing buyers, and buyers would have to pay out of pocket to have an agent represent them.
If you’re not familiar with the Sitzer class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors and several of the largest real estate brands, it centers on how real estate agents are compensated. The lawsuit claims that the practice of seller and buyer agent cooperation or sharing of commissions is an anti-trust violation and has resulted in inflated commissions paid by consumers. While a jury in Missouri has already sided with the plaintiffs, the judge has not rendered a final verdict.
If you have been following the news on the recent resignation of the President of Harvard over her unfortunate congressional testimony on antisemitism on college campuses, you might have read Bill Ackman’s post on X (formally known as Twitter) which essentially blamed everything on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies on college campuses. Ackman’s post was reposted by none other than Elon Musk, the owner of X, who wrote “DEI is just another word for racism. Shame on anyone who uses it”. Musk’s over-the-top response prompted Mark Cuban to jump into the conversation by defending DEI and calling it smart business. Cuban has since challenged Musk to a debate on the subject.