Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another MLS settles with the FTC over alleged anticompetitive practices

From the Federal Trade Commission's press release of earlier today:
The Federal Trade Commission today charged Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (MLS), a group of real estate professionals based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with violating the antitrust laws by adopting rules that withheld valuable benefits of the multiple listing service it controls from consumers who chose to enter into non-traditional listing contracts with real estate brokers. The rules blocked non-traditional, less-than-full-service listings from being transmitted by MLS to popular Internet web sites, but provided this important benefit for traditional forms of listings.

In settling the charges, MLS is barred from adopting or enforcing any rule that treats one type of real estate listing agreement more advantageously than any other, and from interfering with the ability of its members to enter into any kind of lawful listing agreement with home sellers. The order applies not only to MLS, but to other entities it controls, including MetroMLS and any affiliated Web site it operates. The settlement announced today follows the FTC’s 2006 announcement of a sweep alleging similar conduct by multiple listing services in other local areas in several states.

“The Commission action announced today reconfirms our commitment to ensuring that consumers can freely enter into lawful agreements with real estate brokers for help in selling their homes,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Homeowners should be able to lawfully contract with a broker on the terms that they choose, without facing interference by the broker’s competitors.”

For those of you interested, here are links to the FTC's complaint, order and analysis.

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