Statement from NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson Regarding Innovation and Competition in Real Estate Brokerage

WASHINGTON (April 11, 2018) — Later this year, a 10-year old settlement and consent decree between the National Association of Realtors® and the U.S. Department of Justice mandating how listings are displayed by online brokerages will expire. Prior to that, on June 5, 2018, NAR will have the opportunity to demonstrate the breadth and depth of competition in the real estate and brokerage industry at a public workshop held by the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission.

To help show how the hundreds of multiple listing services, or MLSs, promote competition between real estate brokers, to the ultimate benefit of consumers, NAR asked independent, expert economist Frederik Flyer to explain how an MLS works in a new report published today, Procompetitive Benefits of Policies Limiting Access to Local Multiple Listing Service Data.

NAR’s General Counsel Katie Johnson released the following statement regarding innovation and competition in real estate brokerage and the upcoming DOJ and FTC workshop:

“The National Association of Realtors® asserts that the real estate market is vibrant, healthy and vigorously competitive. Technology innovation in the real estate industry is robust, and the notion that real estate isn’t highly competitive and listing data not readily available is unsubstantiated. To the contrary, a wealth of listing data is available to consumers and technology companies from a multitude of sources, and Realtors® provide their clients and consumers with more real estate information today than has ever been available.

“Further, the notion that innovation is spurred by providing real estate data to technology companies without any restrictions is simply erroneous. In fact, in most cases MLSs do not restrict listing data from third-party websites but instead leave the determination of what third-party listing websites will receive and display to the individual MLS participants whose listings are included in the MLS. Having one national property database with free and unrestricted access as some envision may be unrealistic, as this could lead to a degradation of information, or a tragedy of the commons, and others in the industry agree.

“We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the competitiveness in real estate brokerage during the FTC and DOJ workshop process, and I can confirm that NAR has no plans to alter MLS policies mandating how property listings are displayed by online brokerages when the 2008 settlement agreement expires November 18, 2018.”

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.