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Realtors, DOJ Reach Antitrust Settlement

A federal court in Chicago recently approved a settlement agreement between the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org and the ""U.S. Department of Justice"":http://www.usdoj.gov, ending antitrust charges against the association and its members filed by the federal government more than three years ago.
""This is a great day for real estate and for consumers. This compromise is terrific news for the industry and shows that the real estate industry is dynamic, entrepreneurial, and fiercely competitive,"" said NAR President Charles McMillan, a broker with Coldwell Banker of Dallas-Fort Worth. ""Thanks to Realtors, consumers can access detailed information about millions of properties for sale across the country. We are pleased with the settlement so that we can all focus now on what matters most -- stabilizing the housing market and helping the U.S. economy recover.""
After four and a half years of probing the industry, the DOJ's claims regarding anti-competitive effects of the association's Virtual Office Web (VOW) site policy continue to be speculative, NAR said in a press statement. With the recent final order, NAR does not admit any liability or wrongdoing and will make no payments in connection with the settlement.
The settlement compromise approved by the federal court reaffirms NAR's position that MLS members must be actively engaged in real estate brokerage by actually helping people buy or sell homes, NAR said.
The terms of the agreement preserve and strengthen the MLS as a means for broker-to-broker cooperation intended to serve real estate professionals who are actively engaged in the business of listing or selling property in that MLS, said Laurie Janik, NAR chief counsel.
""This compromise will ensure that MLSs are used for what they were originally intended to do -- to help real estate professionals find buyers for people who want to sell their homes,"" Janik said.
By terms of the settlement, NAR adopted a revised VOW policy and must request MLSs to adopt that policy within 90 days. The impact of the amended VOW policy is expected to be minimal, since most consumers do not use VOWs because these sites require online registration, NAR explained.
The National Association of Realtors, ""The Voice for Real Estate,"" is the nation's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in the residential and commercial real estate industries.

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.

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