Editor’s note: The following post appearing in the Inman News Blog was submitted by Bernice Ross, author, real estate coach and Inman News columnist. Ross reflects on the latest status of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors. (See “DOJ details plans in lawsuit against Realtors.”) Take the Inman Blog challenge and join the dialogue by commenting. You can do that by clicking here.

Reverse Discrimination

As an advocate of the benefits of providing full-service brokerage, I am deeply disappointed to see the DOJ continue with its lawsuit. The truth of the matter is that “the horse is out of the barn.” You can find virtually every listing in the country on multiple Web sites. Furthermore, the number one real estate company online, according to Alexa.com, is ZipRealty.

What really irks me, however, is that there is now a double standard when it comes to full service vs. limited or discount service. It’s perfectly acceptable for alternative business models to discuss the benefits of their models. This is well and good. However, the moment a full-service broker mentions the word “commission,” we now have people saying we cannot have this discussion out of fear of being accused of antitrust activities. I spoke at Real Estate Connect NYC and we were discussing how to establish your value to consumers. When the word “commission” came up, one of the participants said that she would have to leave if the discussion continued. In fact, the problem is so bad in some places that people who have invited me to speak have sent their attorneys in to make sure that there is no hint of any antitrust references in my presentations.

Furthermore, some people are afraid to use the title of my book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” in fliers promoting events where I’m speaking. The bottom line is that consumers will pay so-called full commissions when brokers can demonstrate that full service actually nets them more money. The challenge is that the market has been so good for so long that we haven’t had to show sellers how we create value. Now’s the time to change that. Full service, limited service, discount and FSBOs all serve different niches to meet consumer needs. We should all have the opportunity to discuss the value we bring to consumers. That’s what competition is all about.

–Bernice Ross, RealEstateCoach.com

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