Buying or selling a home is the largest financial transaction most Americans will ever undertake. New business models are emerging that allow consumers to save thousands of dollars when they buy or sell a home. Where these practices are allowed, some buyers’ brokers are offering refunds on commissions, and some sellers’ brokers are charging only for services actually used. Beyond the Division’s foreclosure auction prosecutions in California, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi, the Division plays an important role in ensuring the competitiveness of these markets through workshops and advocacy.
On June 5, 2018, the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission will co-host a public workshop to examine recent developments in residential real estate brokerage competition. The agencies last hosted a workshop on competition in the real estate brokerage industry in October 2005. There have been significant advances in this industry over the last decade, and this summer’s workshop will provide an important forum for a broad array of experts from government, business, and academia to discuss these advances. Panelists are expected to discuss the increased availability of consumer-facing platforms for accessing listings information over the internet, the growth of alternative fee and service models, and regulatory issues that may affect competition in this space.
In addition, the Division has a long history of engaging in competition advocacy to ensure that consumers benefit from competition in the real estate services industry. Most recently, the Division sent a letter to the Kansas Real Estate Commission expressing its concerns regarding a proposed regulation that would bar Kansas real estate brokers from agreeing to offer gift cards to home buyers. According to the Division, this regulation would reduce competition and the likely effect would be to harm home buyers in Kansas. The Commission subsequently moved to table the proposed regulation.
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