DOJ Complaint Against Realtors Praised by AAI

AMERICAN ANTITRUST INSTITUTE COMMENDS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT EFFORTS TO BRING THE BENEFITS OF COMPETITION TO HOME BUYERS

WASHINGTON - The American Antitrust Institute complimented the Justice Department today for filing an antitrust lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The suit challenges an association policy that restricts competition by obstructing real estate brokers who use innovative Internet-based tools to lower costs to consumers.

The Justice Department suit alleges NAR's policy prevents consumers from receiving the full benefits of competition and threatens to lock in outmoded business models and to discourage discounting. AAI President Albert Foer stated, “AAI compliments the Department’s continued efforts and leadership in these important initiatives aimed at bringing the benefits of enhanced competition to families that buy or sell their homes.”

In June, AAI announced the launch of a Real Estate Competition project to examine the residential real estate brokerage industry. In addition to examining trade association restraints on competition at the federal, state, and local level, the project includes a broad review of real estate commissions and practices, including barriers to competition that may lead to higher costs for consumers. AAI will study real estate transaction costs and the relationship of the prices charged to the services provided. It will also examine controls over multiple listing services, membership and licensing requirements, regulatory structures, price-fixing and anti-rebate restrictions.

AAI has scheduled an invitational symposium on November 8 in Washington, DC, for presentation of this research and discussion of these issues.

“Few consumer transactions can have greater impact on a family than the purchase of a home” said Foer. “AAI has received a range of complaints from consumers, real estate brokers, lenders, and other sources. Although it appears to us that the DoJ and the FTC are both headed in the appropriate pro-consumer direction, more may be needed from them, from HUD, and from the states. We believe the time is ripe for a critical examination of the overall effort to enhance competition in the real estate industry.”

The American Antitrust Institute is an independent non-profit education, research, and advocacy organization that supports the values and institutions of antitrust in the interests of consumers. AAI Senior Fellow Professor Norman Hawker will lead the AAI Project. Professor Hawker teaches at the Haworth College of Business at Western Michigan University and is a former Assistant Attorney General in Michigan.