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National Association of Realtors Sued Over Pocket Listing Policy

by Nena Perry-Brown

A lawsuit filed this week alleges that the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) crackdown on "pocket listings" is illegal.

Members-only realtor organization Top Agent Network (TAN) is suing NAR over its requirement that realtors officially list all properties being marketed for sale to NAR's multiple listing services (MLS). This rule effectively put an end to pocket listings or private exclusives, whereby homes are marketed behind the scenes among a smaller group of realtors and prospective buyers.

The "Clear Cooperation Policy" went into effect May 1 to enable fines charged on violators, although some multiple listing services like Bright MLS began enforcing the rule months ago. Brokers are still allowed to share private exclusives with their colleagues within their brokerage for sellers who want to maintain privacy.

"This action is necessary to stop the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”) and its affiliates from conspiring to shut down competition, disrupt the relationship between real estate agents and their clients, require agents to violate California law, and take away a family’s freedom to choose how to market their home for sale," the lawsuit explains.

The suit alleges, in part, that NAR violated antitrust laws by steering more users and transactions to its MLS. Because realtors are required to subscribe to and use MLS owned by the association, NAR has an incentive to disempower more-experienced realtors able to complete transactions Off-MLS.

TAN in particular sees itself as a smaller MLS alternative, offering realtor-members in the top 10% of their respective markets to share intelligence and Off-MLS listings.

"Unable to compete with TAN through free and fair innovation, NAR has sought to eliminate TAN through anticompetitive regulation," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit requests a trial by jury.

NOTE: The Clear Cooperation Policy has been clarified since publication.

See other articles related to: pocket listings, national association of realtors, nar, lawsuit

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/national-association-of-realtors-sued-for-crackdown-on-secret-listings/16826

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