DoJ, Realtors settle MLS squabble

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Multiple listings services and their handling by realtors led the Department of Justice to challenge the National Association of Realtors, leading to a settlement after nearly 4 years of legal back-and-forth.

Home shoppers want to find the best deal for their potential investment, as they will tie up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in their purchase. The Internet seemed a natural outlet for doing so, but the potential losses by traditional realtors to discount competitors meant seeing their 6 percent commissions on the best properties go away.

So the NAR dug in and allowed realtors to selectively keep certain listings out of the clutches of MLS. DoJ smelled more than a whiff of anticompetitive behavior, resulting in a lawsuit against NAR.

Classified Intelligence noted the two sides found enough common ground to end the ongoing lawsuit, with each side claiming victory as is usual for such outcomes:

“Under the new policy, brokers participating in a NAR-affiliated MLS will not be permitted to withhold their listings from brokers who serve their customers through virtual-office Web (VOW) sites,” DOJ announced.

Another rule challenged by Justice Department officials related to restrictions in using VOW sites as a source of referral fees from other brokers. The proposed settlement provides that an MLS “may not prohibit, restrict, or impede a participant from referring registrants to any person or from obtaining a fee for such referral.”

Realtors paying for real-world offices objected to discounters and their virtual office sites. Naturally such sites can opt to provide service at a discount to home buyers. NAR will have to find ways to educate people on how paying thousands of dollars more for a full commission really benefits their buying experience.

DoJ, Realtors settle MLS squabble
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