Cold Calling in Real Estate Under Fire in New Lawsuit

April 8, 2019

The common industry practice of cold calling prospects to find new business is being challenged in a class-action complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in California.

Jorge Valdes from Tustin, Calif., has filed a complaint against Coldwell Banker Real Estate and NRT asking the court to stop the companies from directing its real estate professionals to call consumers without their consent, in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges the defendants are making unsolicited, automatically dialed calls to consumers that go against the Federal Trade Commission's National Do Not Call Registry.

In the complaint, Valdes alleges that the real estate companies provide specific instructions to its real estate professionals to call consumers who have previously listed their properties for sale with other real estate professionals. Valdes also alleges that the companies are instructing real estate professionals to make unsolicited cold calls to obtain new listings and that the companies provide agents with telephone numbers and other analytics to identify leads as well as scripts to guide the conversations. The lawsuit questions the technology services that are helping real estate professionals gain numbers to call.

Valdes says in the complaint that he received unwanted autodialed calls from three different Coldwell Banker and NRT real estate professionals to his cell phone, which is registered on the Do Not Call list. Valdes had a property listed on the MLS in 2018 with a real estate professional, but the listing was removed after his home did not sell. He says his cell phone number was never associated with any of the publicly listed information about the property.

Valdes’ class-action lawsuit stretches to anyone who has also received unsolicited calls over the past four years from the companies. The complaint is seeking a jury trial and a minimum of $500 in damages and up to $1,500 in damages for each violation.

Coldwell Banker and NRT have released the following joint statement in response: “We received the lawsuit and are evaluating. As consistent with our policy, we will not comment further on pending litigation.”

The lawsuit follows on the heels of another complaint recently filed against two South Florida brokerages by consumers who said they received a flood of unwanted automated text services about properties. Those lawsuits are asking the court for class action status, which if granted, could potentially cover anyone in the U.S. who has received an automated text message from the brokerages in the last four years.

REALTOR® Magazine