BrokerageIndustry News

FTC charges Austin Realtors with restraining competition

Real estate board settles charges with no admission of wrongdoing

The Austin, Texas, Board of Realtors illegally restrained competition by preventing consumers from putting certain types of home listings on public Web sites, the Federal Trade Commission charged today. The 5,000-member Realtor board operates a multiple listing service in the Austin metropolitan area. The group's rules make property listings information available for public Web site searches only when a home seller enters into a traditional style of real estate broker listing agreement, typically associated with a non-discounted commission, according to the charges. Home sellers who enter into low-cost listing agreements are allegedly blocked from having information about their home shown on Web sites such as Realtor.com, the board-owned Austinhomesearch.com, and other sites operated by board members. The FTC charges that the MLS rules restrain competition among central Texas real estate brokers and are a joint action by a group of competitors to withhold listing informati...