OpinionIndustry News

Only lawyers win in MLS lawsuits

Perspective: Should MLS systems divorce the Realtors?

Lawsuits that target two of the nation's multiple listings services may prompt many MLS member brokers to take a new look at an old policy: tying MLS participation to membership in the local Realtor association. Realty boards in their infancy typically required brokers to join the local Realtor board as a prerequisite of MLS membership. But courts in six states have banned such practices, and Realtor associations in Kentucky and Spokane, Wash., face lawsuits that claim such policies violate antitrust laws. Recent events at other Realtor boards and MLSs have called into question the wisdom of the cozy policies. MLSs originally were small and largely uncontroversial operations. The local Realtor board would set up the MLS, establish the rules, publish and distribute the MLS book, and stash any extra cash from MLS dues in the board's coffers. The board and the MLS shared the same territory, the same membership, and the same officers and directors. But times have changed. Realtor boards a...