| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2007
TDD (202) 514-1888
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Agencies Make Recommendations to Maintain Competition
and Protect Consumers
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today issued a joint report, "Competition in the Real Estate Brokerage Industry." The purpose of the report is to inform consumers and others involved in the industry about important competition issues involving residential real estate, including the impact of the Internet, the competitive structure of the real estate brokerage industry, and obstacles to a more competitive environment.
"The Antitrust Division seeks to educate industry participants and bring enforcement actions where necessary to ensure that consumers benefit from competition in this crucial sector of our economy," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division. "This report will help inform Americans about their real estate brokerage options and alert state legislatures and real estate commissions about the danger of enacting laws and regulations that harm competition."
The report follows a workshop conducted by the agencies in October 2005, entitled "Competition Policy and the Real Estate Industry." The workshop focused on issues related to the competitiveness of the residential real estate industry and covered topics such as multiple listing services, online "virtual office Web sites," discount and fee-for-service brokers, and minimum service requirements. Panelists at the workshop included real estate brokers, state regulators, and academics. In addition, nearly 400 public comments were filed in response to the agencies' request for public comment in connection with the workshop.
"Home ownership is the American dream, and real estate brokers have helped to achieve that dream for many," said FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. "But when anticompetitive practices stand in the way, consumers lose. The FTC is committed to working with the industry and policymakers to ensure that competition is not inhibited and that consumers are well-informed about this important marketplace."
As discussed in the report, the review by the Department and the FTC suggests that, although the real estate industry has undergone a number of substantial changes in recent years particularly as a result of technological advances such as the Internet competition in the industry has been hindered as a result of actions taken by some real estate brokers acting through multiple listing services and the National Association of Realtors, state legislatures, and state real estate commissions. In addition, consumers likely would benefit significantly from additional knowledge about the range of options available in brokerage services and fees. Based on their review, the Department and the FTC recommend the following to help maintain competition and protect consumers in the real estate brokerage industry:
Copies of the report can be found on the Department of Justice's Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/reports/223094.pdf. Transcripts and written submissions from the workshop are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/workshops/reworkshop.htm. Individuals seeking more information on the report should contact the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007.