NAR is currently facing a number of antitrust lawsuits on a variety of different issues, but the one at top of mind for most REALTORS® is the one that involves the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In 2020, NAR reached a settlement agreement with the DOJ regarding allegations that several MLS rules were anticompetitive. Everyone expected that the settlement agreement would be approved by the judge and NAR had begun to implement some of the changes that were addressed in the settlement agreement. On July 8, 2021, the DOJ unexpectedly withdrew from the settlement agreement, leaving a lot of questions for REALTORS® and MLSes.
In September 2021, NAR filed a petition to stop the DOJ from being able to withdraw from the settlement agreement.
The most current information on the status of the antitrust lawsuit can be found here.
What does this mean for members & MLSes?
The case, and settlement agreement, are still pending, but NAR plans to have recommendations for its Board of Directors to consider at their November meeting. The first would prohibit buyer agents from advertising their services as “free.” The second would prohibit agents from filtering MLS listings based on the offer of compensation or the name of the listing firm. Other issues that were included in the settlement agreement are being reviewed by the NAR MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board and more recommendations may come in the future.
What should REALTORS® do about these lawsuits?
Many in the public, and government, have a fundamental misunderstanding of how REALTORS® add value to a transaction, how REALTORS® are compensated in a transaction, and how the MLS works in the United States. As REALTORS®, it is important to help others understand all of this. NAR provides resources such as:
- Information on Antitrust Lawsuits that explains the role of REALTORS® and the systems in place to protect consumers.
- The MLS in Action that helps explain the value of the MLS and what a world without the MLS would look like.
- 3 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your Real Estate Agent that helps consumers to better understand how to work with an agent.
- The Essential Real Estate Agent that helps explain the value of working with a real estate agent.
If you have any questions regarding this article, we encourage you to contact the Virginia REALTORS® Legal Hotline.