Federal judge denies NAR, Zillow’s motion to end REX lawsuit

Federal judge Thomas Zilly said on Thursday that REX Real Estate’s cartel allegations against NAR and Zillow were “plausible”. NAR said it will continue to defend itself against REX claims.

A federal judge has denied the National Association of Realtors and Zillow’s motion to end their seven-month battle with discount broker REX Real Estate.

Judge Thomas Zilly

US District Court judge Thomas S. Zilly ruled in favor of REX on Thursday, saying the brokerage firm had provided sufficient evidence to support its antitrust allegations, which are based on Zillow’s “no-commingling rule” from NAR to separate non-multiple listing service listings from MLS listings on its website.

“[The] The defendants also argue that the lawsuit does not lack sufficient allegations to allege competition damage, and essentially argue that the plaintiff is merely assuming that damage to itself is competition damage, ”Zilly stated in a 25- mutual decision. “The court disagrees, as the lawsuit is full of allegations of impairment of competition.”

“[The] The plausor plausibly alleges that the actions of the defendants have a significant anti-competitive effect that harms consumers in the relevant market, ”he continued, referring to the rules of the NAR commission on prohibition of commingling and the buyer-broker commission. “The court therefore denies [the] Defendants’ motions to dismiss antitrust claims under Section 1 of the Sherman Act and under the [Consumer Protection Act]. “

Jack Ryan | Image credit: REX

REX CEO Jack Ryan said Zilly’s decision was a victory not only for REX but also for American homebuyers and homebuyers.

“REX is the only real estate player willing to fight for consumers in court and in public opinion against the cartel that is driving up residential property fees, making home ownership so expensive, and the process of buying and selling Makes home ownership difficult and opaque. “Ryan said in a statement following Thursday’s ruling. “The brokerage bosses don’t want consumers to choose the houses or the price they pay for themselves. REX does it. “

“Today’s arrangement is an important first step in curbing the anti-consumer policies that define big real estate and big tech,” he added. “The ruling points to the long overdue changes that only REX delivers to home shoppers nationwide.”

In March, REX filed a lawsuit against Zillow and NAR, saying that Zillow’s decision to split entries into the Agent Entries and Other Entries tabs dramatically reduced the number of views for their entries on Zillow and reduced revenue. Additionally, REX said the decision is having a negative impact on consumers, especially sellers who, in the end, “[listing] the house on the market for more days and accepting lower sales prices because buyers don’t look for other offers on the tab.

NAR and Zillow responded in July with the now-unsuccessful motion to dismiss, based on a 2008 consensual decree with the Justice Department that “allowed real estate agent-affiliated multi-listing services to require MLS listings to be searched separately from listings from other sources will. ”

However, the DOJ stepped in and said NAR had abused the decree, which has now expired. “The decree expired in 2018 and shouldn’t be read for industry developments like Zillow’s massive growth into an allegedly critical platform for marketing homes directly to consumers (as opposed to a multiple listing service) that barely existed in 2008.” . “

Mantill Williams | Photo credit: LinkedIn

In an email statement to Inman, NAR said they were disappointed with Zilly’s verdict; However, they are confident in their eventual victory.

“We are disappointed with the decision, but remain confident that we will prevail in court,” said Mantill Williams, Vice President of Communications at NAR. “NAR remains committed to defending local brokerage organizations that are creating highly competitive markets, empowering small businesses, and ensuring equitable home ownership, superior customer service, and greater cost options for all buyers and sellers.”

A Zillow spokesman reiterated NAR’s testimony, saying that they will continue to “vigorously defend themselves” until the lawsuit is resolved.

“We continue to believe and maintain that REX’s claims are unfounded,” the spokesman said in a statement emailed. “As an MLS participant, we are obliged to adhere to the rules and regulations of the MLS.”

“As the process progresses, we will continue to vigorously defend ourselves and our efforts to provide consumers with the most complete and up-to-date home and listing information possible,” they added.

Read the full verdict below.

Email to Marian McPherson

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