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Future may hold major MLS site for by-owner real estate

Perspective: Victory in California could ignite FSBO online advertising

The outcome of a recent legal dispute between a for-sale-by-owner Web site and the California Department of Real Estate was a major victory for existing FSBO Web sites and could spur larger competitors to commit more resources to the online FSBO opportunity. The dispute arose when the state agency attempted to enforce a state law that required outlets other than newspapers to obtain a brokerage license to advertise property for sale. The Web site, which sells online ad spots to for-sale-by-owner home sellers for a flat fee, challenged the agency's order to cease advertising California properties for sale without a brokerage license. But a federal judge found the agency hadn't established why the Web site should be required to obtain a license while newspaper-operated Web sites weren't subject to the same requirement. The ruling, which the state agency has said it will not appeal, suggests that Web sites not operated by newspapers don't need to obtain a real estate brokerage license to...