MLS & Associations

Judge rules antitrust claims against Realtor associations ‘plausible’

MLS faces possible dissolution or buyout
  • A federal district court has upheld two antitrust claims brought against two California Realtor associations by a rival association, allowing all 11 of the latter's claims to advance.
  • The three associations together own regional MLS Sandicor Inc., which two of the associations seek to dissolve and one seeks to buy out from the others.
  • The three associations compete for agent and broker members through the services they offer.
  • The association alleging antitrust is accusing its rivals of conspiring to eliminate a competitive threat by denying the association an unrestricted MLS data feed from Sandicor for a public-facing listing site.

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A federal judge is allowing antitrust claims against two California Realtor associations to go forward, keeping the fate of one of the nation's largest MLSs up in the air. In January, the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors (SDAR) filed a federal lawsuit against its own MLS, Sandicor Inc., and its fellow Sandicor shareholders, the North San Diego County Association of Realtors (NSDCAR) and the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors (PSAR). The suit alleges NSDCAR and PSAR have denied SDAR access to its own MLS data and used Sandicor to compete unfairly with SDAR for members. As the number of MLS and association mergers rises, the power struggle among these three associations illustrates some of the risks inherent to an industry in which listing data control is paramount, and competitors -- be they agents, brokers, associations or MLSs -- regularly cooperate to close home sales. In October, NSDCAR and PSAR filed a separate lawsuit asking a state court to ...