In a recent article on commission fees, we mentioned that discount Brokerage Rex Real Estate filed a lawsuit against the State of Oregon for antitrust practices. REX’s 2020 lawsuit alleges the state’s policy banning homebuyers from receiving discounted real estate fees harms consumers and stifles competition. The Rex suit alleges that, without prohibitions against rebates, buyer’s commission rates would be far lower.
Now, Rex Homes, based in Austin, Texas, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Zillow, Trulia, and the National Association of Realtors. The lawsuit alleges that recent changes to Zillow’s website, “unfairly hides certain listings, shrinking their exposure and diminishing competition among real estate brokers.”
High Fees, Hidden Listings
In a press release, REX says it is “breaking the stranglehold that REX believes the NAR and its members have held over consumers for generations, resulting in fees that are two to three times higher than in most developed countries. REX filed the lawsuit after the company’s clients complained about the second-class treatment that non-cartel homes were receiving.”
Recently, Zillow began obtaining brokerage licenses throughout the country and then joined NAR and local associations. In January, as a part of its cooperation with NAR and MLSs, Zillow began moving homes out of its initial search results for sellers who chose not to use agents adhering to the NAR and local multiple listing service (MLS) practices which hike fees and lower customer service.
“Zillow began like so many other platforms: it served a great value to American consumers. Unfortunately, we see Zillow as backtracking on their original mission to serve consumers, instead focusing on their own profits,” said REX CEO Jack Ryan.
“We launched REX to put the consumer back in charge of real estate and transactions,” Ryan continued. “This case builds on the DOJ’s recent antitrust settlement with NAR/MLSs that beat back some anticompetitive practices. We believe this litigation will define whether technology will serve and protect Big Brokers and the NAR cartel or whether it will make good on its promise of greater ease, service, transparency and lower commission fees for consumers.”
Stay tuned as we analyze the merits of this lawsuit.