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The highest court in the land has turned away a petition from the National Association of Realtors, allowing an antitrust case over the trade group’s pocket listing policy to continue.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied, without comment, NAR’s petition for a “writ of certiorari,” asking the court to review a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made in April. That ruling allowed a lawsuit filed by former pocket listing service The PLS to proceed, overturning a lower court decision that had thrown it out. (The PLS now calls itself The NLS, though it remains The PLS in legal filings.)
“We are disappointed the Supreme Court has decided not to hear our appeal of the decision not to dismiss the case,” NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Inman in an emailed statement.
“Regardless, we look forward to presenting our position at trial and remain confident we will ultimately prevail.”
The suit alleges that NAR, which has 1.6 million members, and three of the largest multiple listing services in the nation — California Regional MLS, Bright MLS and Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) — violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and California’s Cartwright Act by adopting the Clear Cooperation Policy, which requires listing brokers to submit a listing to their MLS within one business day of marketing a property to the public.
This includes marketing a property in a private listing service, such as that formerly run by The PLS. In an opposition brief The PLS submitted to the Supreme Court in December, the company argued the policy harmed not only The PLS, but both listing and buyer agents by limiting competition to Realtor-affiliated MLSs and threatening agents with MLS membership suspension if they did not comply with the policy.
The policy has attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which is currently investigating NAR over the CCP and other rules. A DOJ attorney also spoke at oral arguments in The PLS’s appeal in January 2021.
“As a leading advocate for homeownership, NAR determined the Clear Cooperation Policy (CCP) was needed as a crucial protection for consumers,” Williams told Inman.
“It ensures that publicly marketed property listings are widely available and accessible to all consumers. As was noted by the federal judge who initially dismissed this case, the CCP provides consumers with ‘access to more information regarding market conditions, enabling them to make better informed choices about the bundle of real estate brokerage services that will best serve their needs.'”
Whether that argument ultimately prevails remains to be seen as the case proceeds through the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.