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U.S. Still Pressing Realtor Suit

October 05, 2005|From Bloomberg News

U.S. antitrust enforcers, amending a suit against the National Assn. of Realtors, said the trade group's revised policy on Web listing of properties is still anti-competitive.

The new claim, filed Tuesday by the Justice Department in federal court in Chicago, said the policy continues to let brokers "opt out" of providing their properties to a multiple listing service, or MLS, thus giving traditional agents an advantage over discount brokers.

The amended policy allows "traditional brokers to block the customers of Web-based competitors from using the Internet to review the same set of MLS listings that the traditional brokers provide to their customers," the government said in the new complaint. "It suppresses technological innovation, discourages competition on price and quality and raises barriers to entry."

The National Assn. of Realtors said in a statement that the government's lawsuit "jeopardizes the future of the nation's 900 multiple listing services as we know them."

The Realtors' group said a victory for the government would drive brokers out of multiple listing services, "resulting in less competition in real estate services, higher costs, less availability of listing information and the very outcome Justice seeks to avoid."

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