Industry News

Judge dismisses Wisconsin antitrust case

Finds insufficient evidence to show 'tying' practice impacted interstate commerce

A federal judge in Madison, Wis., has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a real estate broker who claimed he was forced to buy memberships in the local real estate association as a condition of belonging to the multiple listing service and that the requirement was anti-competitive.   The suit was filed in December 2004 by Realtor Jay Reifert, who complained of a practice called "tying," by which Wisconsin Realtor associations allegedly force real estate agents to purchase memberships in their trade associations in order to purchase access to MLS services.   Nearly all of the nation's 800 multiple listing services are owned and operated by Realtor organizations. Membership in many MLSs is open only to members of the local Realtor organizations that own them.   District Court Judge John Shabaz in a court document wrote that there was "insufficient evidence" to find that a tie between the MLS and Realtor association membership has had an effect on interstate comme...