The online real estate community is peppering a proposed settlement in a years-long legal dispute over a set of property listings policies with a combination of praise, daze, amazement and naysaying. Depending on what section of the industry's blogosphere you are traversing, the proposed agreement (see proposed settlement document here) between the federal government and the National Association of Realtors is said to have a profound impact, is completely meaningless or is somewhere in between. Apparently, the truce in the legal fight has triggered a new battle of words. Justice Department officials have hailed the settlement -- which largely revolves around policies that would allow multiple listing service participants to operate password-protected Virtual Office Web sites (VOWs), which are consumer portals loaded with property information shared by MLS participants -- as allowing new competition and even fostering lower commission rates by making brokers more efficient. ...
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