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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Law - "Realtors Back Away From Plan To Restrict Access to Listings"

"Realtors Back Away From Plan To Restrict Access to Listings" is the headline to an interesting story today in the Washington Post. Some quotes:

In response to antitrust concerns, the National Association of Realtors plans to announce today that it will drop a plan to permit real estate agents to restrict access to home sales listings on the Internet.

Instead it will set rules ensuring that all real estate agents have access to the same information, the trade group said in a statement to be released today. Association officials had previously insisted on maintaining policies that allowed agents to control listings. They said they changed their minds because of a Justice Department investigation into whether the association's policy was stifling competition. * * *

The controversy has arisen as several new companies, or new units of established companies, have sought to break into the real estate market with cut-rate commissions, often by using the Internet to speed up transactions. Some of the new companies have lobbied federal antitrust officials for protection.

Real estate agents have been criticized for seeking to maintain their traditional 6 percent commissions as home prices soar. Home prices in the Washington region have roughly doubled over five years, so commissions have, too, for roughly the same amount of work.

State real estate groups, meanwhile, have pushed ahead with rules that require agents to provide a full set of services to consumers. Antitrust officials at the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have said those rules would hurt consumers because they would make it harder for the new kinds of business models, such as Internet-based firms, to offer services at lower prices.

The state groups have said they are the ones protecting consumers by limiting the growth of companies that offer poor service.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 8, 2005 07:58 AM
Posted to General Law Related