Industry News

MLS defends rules targeted by DOJ

U.S. lawyers allege Hilton Head MLS restrictions are anticompetitive

Membership restrictions for the Multiple Listing Service of Hilton Head Island Inc., the subject of a lawsuit accompanying a proposed settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, were "rooted in protecting the consumer," a lawyer for the MLS said Wednesday. A proposed settlement submitted by the Justice Department and the MLS (see Inman News) would delete several sections from the MLS bylaws and rules, including requirements that broker members of the MLS must have an office in an eight-county area served by the MLS, must be a resident in that area, and must operate their offices during "reasonable business hours." Approval of the settlement agreement, called the proposed final judgment, would resolve the issues outlined in the related civil antitrust lawsuit. The Justice Department alleges in its lawsuit that the MLS rules "raise entry barriers for potential competitors by imposing burdensome prerequisites for membership; provide a means of identifying potentially aggress...