NAR Applauds Withdrawal Of DOJ Rules – RISMedia |
A spokesperson for NAR called the withdrawal a “total and unprecedented violation of the Justice Department’s agreement,” adding that the settlement had been negotiated and approved by the head of the antitrust division.
According to NAR, the association had already started implementing the agreed changes, which would repeal and modify some anti-competitive rules, such as:
– Prohibit NAR affiliated MLSs from disclosing to potential buyers the commission the buying broker will earn
– Allow buying brokers to misrepresent buyers that the services of a buying broker are free
– Allow buying brokers to filter MLS listings based on the level of commissions offered to buying brokers
– Limit access to PO boxes that allow licensed brokers access to homes for sale to brokers who work for an MLS affiliated with the NAR.
“NAR has fulfilled all of our obligations under the settlement agreement and now the DOJ is inexplicably backing down,” NAR said. “If the department does not meet its commitments under the agreement, we are confident in our pro-consumer and pro-competition policies. “
The DOJ said it had withdrawn from the settlement so it could conduct a broader investigation into the NAR rules.
“The proposed settlement will not sufficiently protect the ability of the antitrust division to pursue future claims against NAR,” Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Powers of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “Real estate is at the heart of the US economy and consumers pay billions of dollars in real estate commissions each year. We cannot be bound by a regulation that impedes our ability to protect competition in a market that profoundly affects the financial well-being of Americans. “
In recent years, the Texas-based Real Estate Exchange (REX) has jumped on these anti-competitive allegations, taking legal action against the association, going so far as to commission a study highlighting “the anti-competition of the current industry structure ”.
Last June, however, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against the startup, stating that REX “did not support its claim that there is deception that hurts a substantial portion of the buying public. “.
These are not the first anti-competitive cases filed against NAR. In 2005, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the organization, alleging that NAR rules limit competition from real estate brokers who use the Internet to serve their clients. The lawsuit targeted policies that allegedly prevented Internet-based companies from accessing MLS data.
The DOJ and the NAR came to an agreement in 2008. The terms of the settlement required the NAR to repeal its anti-competitive policies and the MLS to repeal rules based on those policies.
Although these past lawsuits have been resolved, commission-based antitrust allegations continue to haunt the association.
NAR’s statement continued:
“The rules and policies of the National Association of REALTORS® have a long history of ensuring fair and competitive real estate markets for buyers and sellers. Based on our commitment to act in the best interests of buyers and sellers, we regularly update our rules and policies to protect consumers and ensure transparency. “
According to the DOJ, the department pursued NAR’s agreement to amend the regulations to “adequately protect and preserve the rights of the department to investigate and challenge further conduct by NAR.” However, the DOJ and the NAR were unable to come to an agreement.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to RISMedia for updates.
Liz Dominguez is the Senior Online Editor for RISMedia. Send him your ideas for real estate news by e-mail at [email protected].