A Michigan brokerage that claimed it was put out of business by two multiple listing services has reached confidential, out-of-court settlements with both MLSs.
Home Quarters Real Estate Group had claimed damages in excess of $10 million in a May 2007 lawsuit against MiRealSource and Realcomp II Ltd.
Attorneys for Home Quarters, which offered cash rebates to buyers and commission discounts to sellers, claimed traditional Realtors were threatened by the Home Quarters business model. The lawsuit claimed that the MLSs enacted rules aimed at forcing the brokerage to adopt a more traditional business model.
MiRealSource and Realcomp allegedly shut off Home Quarters’ access to the MLSs within 24 hours of each other in a May 2003 dispute over the brokerage’s display of listings.
MiRealSource later said Home Quarters had not signed up for the MLSs’ broker reciprocity program, and had no authority to advertise the listings of other brokers without their consent.
After the case had dragged on for more than three years, a July 29, 2010, settlement conference resulted in "substantial progress toward settlement" with only one issue unresolved, attorneys for the parties said.
A jury trial in the case was scheduled to begin Nov. 2, but the Home Quarters complaint was dismissed on Oct. 25 at the request of attorneys for all parties, who cited separate settlement agreements between the brokerage and each MLS.
Realcomp CEO Karen Kage confirmed the case was dismissed but declined further comment. An attorney who represented Home Quarters declined to comment. Lawyers who represented MiRealSource were not immediately available for comment.
Realcomp, which serves the metro Detroit and Southeastern Michigan markets, remains entangled in two other lawsuits that also involve allegations that policies adopted by the MLS were aimed at limiting competition from limited-service brokers.
The MLS is appealing a Federal Trade Commission ruling that Realcomp’s refusal to transmit "exclusive agency" property listings commonly employed by limited-service brokers to public websites such as Realtor.com imposed a "significant impediment" to consumers accessing their listings.
Realcomp has also been named in an antitrust lawsuit that claims the MLS’s policies protected full-service brokers’ commissions from competition, resulting in tens of thousands of home sellers paying inflated commissions.