Industry NewsOpinion

Justice not served in real estate dispute

Perspective: Realtors, DOJ spat over 'competition' has dragged on too long

"The case concerns the fate of a large inheritance, but has dragged on for many generations prior to the action of the novel, so that, by the time it is resolved late in the narrative, legal costs have devoured nearly the entire estate. The case is thus a byword for an interminable legal proceeding." That's Wikipedia's succinct description of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the interminable lawsuit that formed the backbone of Charles Dickens' novel "Bleak House." Jarndyce may be fictional, yet Wikipedia's description of it might just as well apply to the very real legal spat between the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Department of Justice, which also has dragged on for more than a few years. The dispute concerns whether the U.S. real estate brokerage industry is a hotbed of competition -- NAR's point of view -- or a gigantic anti-competitive cartel -- the DOJ's opinion. The question is provocative, but impossible to answer without a basic agreement a...