BrokerageIndustry News

Flat-fee company protests MLS rules in Washington

Local rule patterned after amended NAR policy

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A flat-fee brokerage in Washington contends that a new data exchange policy passed by a local multiple listing service is anticompetitive because it allows MLS participants to make individual decisions about which property listings to display -- and not to display -- on their Web sites based on a list of criteria, including compensation offered, the type of listing agreement, and the type of services offered. The rule changes, enacted in August by the Tri-Cities Association of Realtors MLS, are modeled after revisions to a National Association of Realtors Internet Data Exchange (IDX) policy approved last year. NAR policies related to the online sharing and display of property listings information are also at the center of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2005 against the association -- that litigation is ongoing. Also, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has taken action against MLS rules related to IDX restrictions that prohibit the display of s...