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NAR Moves to Dismiss Antitrust Suits Over MLSs

It asked the courts to dismiss two lawsuits – Moehrl v. NAR and Sitzer v. NAR – because both failed to show how MLSs inhibit competition or cause harm.

CHICAGO – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) moved last week to dismiss two lawsuits – Moehrl v. NAR and “the copycat” Sitzer v. NAR lawsuit because both amended complaints fail to show how NAR rules for the operation of Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) inhibit competition or cause the plaintiffs any harm.

Moreover, NAR says, the complaints misrepresent rules which have long been recognized by the courts across the country as protecting consumers and creating competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers.

“Throwing around a few antitrust buzzwords doesn’t change the fact that MLSs have contributed to an orderly, efficient and pro-consumer marketplace for well over 100 years,” says John Smaby, President of NAR. “We continue to believe the lawsuits are wrong on the facts, wrong on the economics and wrong on the law.”

According to NAR’s briefs, the essence of the plaintiffs’ argument is based on a flawed interpretation of the NAR Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy and Code of Ethics. According to NAR’s filings, misrepresenting NAR rules with “pejorative” and “anticompetitive-sounding” language does not outweigh the decades of court rulings that have found NAR rules to be pro-competitive and serve the best interests of consumers through enhanced transparency and efficiency.

“The MLS system creates highly competitive, efficient markets with increased transaction volume and superior customer service that benefit home buyers and sellers,” says Smaby.

NAR’s filings to dismiss also set forth the failure of the class action attorneys to meet legal standards necessary to move their case forward. As the briefs state, the “plaintiffs have totally ignored the long antitrust scrutiny of the MLSs and the repeated judicial conclusion that MLSs and the rules that govern them are pro-competitive.”

In addition, NAR’s filings say that the plaintiffs’ claims lack any evidence that they were actually harmed by NAR rules. Per the brief, the plaintiffs “have not alleged that they even attempted to negotiate a lower commission either from their listing broker or for the buyer’s broker,” which, as noted above, is allowed by NAR rules anyway, contrary to their claims.

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