The Department of Justice has responded to the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) motion for dismissal of the antitrust cases currently lobbied against it. According to NAR in May, the case misrepresents NAR’s rules, “which have long been recognized by the courts across the country as protecting consumers and creating competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers.”
Among the case rulings NAR has moved to dismiss is 2008’s U.S. v. National Association of Realtors. According to DOJ’s response to the motion, NAR inaccurately portrays the “express permission” that DOJ provided its MLS compensation rules in the settlement.
“In that case, the United States did not examine the rest of NAR’s policies, including those at issue here, and therefore those policies simply were not subjected to antitrust scrutiny,” the statement reads. “Importantly, those other policies were in no sense analyzed and found consistent with antitrust laws.”
“It's hard enough to get a dismissal on an antitrust lawsuit anyway but, with the Department of Justice weighing in like that, there's no way,” Rob Hahn, a managing partner at real estate consultancy 7DS Associates said on Forbes. “The thing is, you read between the lines, and I get the strong feeling that if the DOJ were to look at [the 2008 case] today, chances are they're not going to come out with positive, glowing reviews of the current compensation rules.”
Forbes reports that Mantill Williams, NAR’s VP of communications, says the group stands by its interpretation of the 2008 settlement.
“The MLS system promotes a pro-consumer, pro-competitive market for home buyers and sellers, contrary to the claims of these class-action attorneys,” Williams said. “We believe we have always accurately described the implications of the consent decree we agreed to in 2008. Regardless, the MLS system creates competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers as well as small business brokerages.”