The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) last week, alleging a series of violations of antitrust law, including commission arrangements and consumer disclosure requirements.
NAR has adopted a “series of rules, policies, and practices governing, among other things, the publication and marketing of real estate, real estate broker commissions, as well as real estate broker access to lockboxes, that have been widely adopted by NAR’s members resulting in a lessening of competition among real estate brokers to the detriment of American home buyers,” the DOJ said in a news release last Thursday.
The federal government alleged that the Chicago-based trade organization violated the Sherman Act and “restrained” free trade by:
“prohibiting NAR-affiliated multiple-listing services (“MLSs”) from disclosing to prospective buyers the amount of commission that the buyer broker will earn if the buyer purchases a home listed on the MLS;
allowing buyer brokers to misrepresent to buyers that a buyer broker’s services are free;
enabling buyer brokers to filter MLS listings based on the level of buyer broker commissions offered and to exclude homes with lower commissions from consideration by potential home buyers;
and limiting access to the lockboxes that provide licensed brokers with physical access to a home that is for sale to only brokers who are members of a NAR-affiliated MLS.“