The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently investigating National Association of Realtors (NAR) rules. Inman News and The Real Deal shared comments from a panel at the Council of Multiple Listing Services Conference that included antitrust partners Alicia Batts and Dylan Carson. The panelists emphasized that realtors and other industry members should try to work with federal regulators as they focus their attention on consolidation and consumer issues.
Regarding recent activity, Batts said, “This is not a blip. Both [political] parties are concerned about consolidation and income inequality and helping consumers. I think the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is likely to make rules. The chair [Lina Khan] will want her control of the FTC to be successful, and she has to report to the White House, so they’re going to do something.”
In response to increasing pressure for federal regulation, Batts stated, “You should prepare to do something or to be active participants, whether it’s through an association or not, but you should work jointly. It’s more eﬀective to come in and work jointly than to have multiple listing services doing diﬀerent things and going in diﬀerent directions. I think that the industry needs to work together and have that voice.”
Carson further explained, “There’s bipartisan consensus that the budgets of both enforcement agencies should be signiﬁcantly increased, and there are bills to essentially double the FTC budget and signiﬁcantly increase the DOJ’s budget.” He added, “They have both passed in congressional committees and may be voted on soon and signed into law, so they should be able to staﬀ up soon, as soon as the next budgetary year.”
Overall, Carson noted that “change is coming,” so “advocate for the rules that you want and the changes in antitrust enforcement that you want to see.” He added, “With the increased resources, which will probably be the new normal and become more permanent, there will be increased scrutiny on lots of industries, including real estate. So, now is the time to get ahead of the curve, to be proactive and to show that the way the business is structured and the rules are set up are pro-consumer, pro-competitive and pro-innovation.”
The full Inman News article is available for subscribers.
The full The Real Deal article is available on their website.