A large multiple listing service in Washington has worked to monopolize property listings in the state and has driven many independent MLSs out of business, according to a lawsuit that was announced today. The Bellingham-Whatcom County MLS, which has about 900 members in 70 offices and maintains 1,800 active listings, charges that the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, based in Kirkland, Wash., has engaged in a "pattern of anticompetitive activities," including the absorption of eight formerly independent MLSs in nearby counties and the offer of "unwritten 'sweetheart' deals to local brokers at large real estate franchises to undercut independent (MLSs)." Also, the lawsuit alleges that Northwest's "specific intent in taking over (MLSs) is to control the market for real estate listings, benefiting Northwest's three top members -- Windermere, Coldwell Banker and John L. Scott." Tom Resick, a lawyer representing the Bellingham-Whatcom County MLS, in November 2004 f...
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