The renewed antitrust investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) into the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will face an appeal after the DOJ challenged a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge. The DOJ had previously agreed to a settlement with the NAR in 2020 after investigating the trade group’s listing and agent compensation policies. The settlement included provisions for NAR to increase transparency regarding broker commissions and to cease misrepresenting that buyer broker services were free.
However, the DOJ withdrew the settlement in July 2021, citing the terms of the agreement as a barrier to continuing investigations into certain association rules that it felt were harmful to buyers and sellers. In response, NAR filed a petition in September 2021 to set aside or modify the DOJ’s probes into the trade group.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly declared in January 2022 that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)’s previous settlement terms were still effective, and allowing the DOJ’s renewed antitrust investigation to proceed would negate the advantages that NAR had obtained in the original agreement. The DOJ is now appealing this ruling.
NAR’s vice president of communications, Mantill Williams, remains confident in NAR’s position, stating that NAR has upheld its end of the agreement, and they expect the DOJ to do the same. Furthermore, Williams acknowledged that NAR’s guidance for local MLS broker marketplaces has been acknowledged for a while as promoting fair, transparent, and competitive real estate markets for consumers and businesses.
Overall, the appeal by the DOJ means that the case is far from over. The outcome of the appeal will be crucial for NAR, as it could determine the scope of the DOJ’s investigations and its ability to enforce regulations on the trade group’s policies.