A broker-operated multiple listing service in Columbia, S.C., which changed some policies in response to a U.S. Justice Department investigation, is now gearing up for a legal battle with the federal government. The Justice Department last week announced a lawsuit against Consolidated MLS, charging that its rules illegally restrict competition among brokers and limit consumer choice in real estate services. "We just simply don't think that anything we do is anticompetitive. I don't know what the motivation is here," said Bob Baucom, who owns a RE/MAX franchise in Columbia and also serves as director of operations for the MLS. While agreeing to loosen some restrictions, the MLS is digging in on other issues targeted by the Justice Department. A membership fee to join the MLS was reduced from $5,000 to $2,500, Baucom said, and the MLS is in the process of opening up to accept property listings under a previously banned form of contract between sellers and brokers k...
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