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Enforcing Antitrust Laws in the Real Estate Industry

The Division is protecting consumers through its litigation and investigative efforts. This page describes the Division’s enforcement efforts in selected states.

On this page:

Litigation

Investigations


Litigation

U.S. v. National Association of Realtors

Issue: The Division challenged NAR's MLS rules that inhibited competition from Internet-based brokers. On November 18, 2008 the Court entered a Final Judgment approving a settlement against NAR.

Under the Final Judgment, NAR repealed the policies challenged by the United States and replaced those policies with rules that do not discriminate against innovative brokers who use the Internet to provide high-quality, low-priced brokerage services to consumers.

Case filings: U.S. v. National Association of Realtors

November 18, 2008

Court decision: Final Judgment

May 27, 2008

Press release: Justice Department Announces Settlement with the National Association of Realtors

October 4, 2005

Press release: Department of Justice Amends Antitrust Lawsuit Against National Association of Realtors

September 8, 2005

Press release: Justice Department Sues National Association of Realtors for Limiting Competition Among Real Estate Brokers

U.S. v. Consolidated Multiple Listing Service, Inc.

Issue: The Division challenged several rules mandated by the Columbia, SC multiple listing service that may reduce choice and raise prices for Columbia consumers. These include rules that:

  • Required brokers to perform a prescribed set of services—such as negotiating a home's sale price and attending the closing—even if the broker’s customer would prefer to perform some of these tasks on his or her own in order to save money on the real estate broker’s fee.
  • Gave Columbia real estate brokers the ability to exclude brokers from outside Columbia who could offer local consumers innovative brokerage options that better match their needs.

On August 27, 2009, the Court entered a Final Judgment that:

  • Required the Consolidated Multiple Listing Service, Inc. to cease enforcement of these rules.
  • Prevented the MLS from passing new rules that would discriminate against innovative brokers.

Case filings: U.S. v. Consolidated Multiple Listing Service, Inc.

May 2, 2008

Press release: Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Consolidated Multiple Listing Service of South Carolina for Restraining Competition Among Real Estate Brokers

U.S. v. Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island, Inc.

Issue: In October 2007, the Division filed a lawsuit alleging that the Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island, Inc. violated antitrust laws by enforcing certain rules that unreasonably restrain competition. These include rules that:

  • Required member-brokers to maintain a physical office, reside within the MLS service area, and operate their offices during hours deemed reasonable by the MLS.
  • Required prospective members to disclose their business history and prior employment and obtain letters of recommendation from three current broker-members.
  • Authorized the MLS Board of Trustees to adopt mandatory commission guidelines and to impose discriminatory requirements on Internet-based brokers.

On May 28, 2008, the Court entered a Final Judgment that:

  • Required the Hilton Head MLS to cease enforcement of these rules.
  • Prevented the MLS from passing new rules that would discriminate against innovative brokers.

Case filings: U.S. v. Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island, Inc.

October 16, 2007

Press release: Justice Department Reaches Settlement with the Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island Inc.

U.S. v. Kentucky Real Estate Commission

Issue: The Division challenged regulations that prohibited Kentucky real estate brokers from offering rebates and other inducements to consumers. The United States settled its lawsuit after the Kentucky Real Estate Commission agreed to rescind its rebate ban.

Case filings: U.S. v. Kentucky Real Estate Commission

July 13, 2005

Press releases: Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Kentucky Real Estate Commission

March 31, 2005

Press releases: Justice Department Sues Kentucky Real Estate Commission for Limiting Competition Among Real Estate Brokers


Investigations

Montana Rebate Ban

Issue: The Division investigated a regulation that prohibited Montana brokers from offering rebates and other inducements to consumers. In response to an investigation by the Division, the Montana Board of Realty Regulation repealed the regulation.

April 1, 2008

Press release: Montana Board of Realty Regulation Permits Real Estate Brokers to Offer Rebates to Consumers

West Virginia Rebate Ban

Issue: The Division investigated regulations that prohibited West Virginia brokers from offering rebates and other inducements to consumers. The West Virginia Real Estate Commission repealed the regulation.

May 4, 2006

Press release: West Virginia Real Estate Commission Permits Real Estate Brokers to Offer Rebates and Other Discounts

South Dakota Rebate Ban

Issue: The Division investigated rulings by the South Dakota Real Estate Commission that prohibited brokers in that state from offering rebates and other inducements to consumers. The South Dakota Real Estate Commission repealed the regulation.

August 17, 2005

Press release: South Dakota Real Estate Commission Permits Real Estate Brokers to Offer Rebates and Inducements

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