Realtors, DOJ Reach Settlement
Feds say the deal will give Internet brokers a level playing field with traditional brokers.The Department of Justice said May 27 it has reached a settlement in its long-running legal dispute with the National Association of Realtors. Under the terms of the settlement, the Realtors will enact a new policy that guarantees Internet-based brokerage companies will not be treated differently than traditional brokers. Under the new policy, Realtor-affiliated brokers participating in multiple-listing services will be prohibited from withholding their listings from brokers who use virtual office Web sites, generally known as VOWs. The Realtors agreed to a 10-year settlement to ensure the group continues to abide by the requirements of the settlement.
"Today's settlement prevents traditional brokers from deliberately impeding competition," Deborah A. Garza, deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ's Antitrust Division, said in a statement. "When there is unfettered competition from brokers with innovative and efficient approaches to the residential real estate market, consumers are likely to receive better services and pay lower commission rates."