Zillow – Zillow, National Association of Realtors face private antitrust lawsuit
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Zillow Group Inc faces an antitrust lawsuit filed Tuesday that accuses it and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) of anti-competitive behavior connected to the listing for sale of homes on Zillow’s website, according to a court filing.
An agreement between Zillow and the NAR resulted in Zillow making it harder for buyers to find homes for sale that are not associated with the NAR and Multiple Listing Services, according to the lawsuit brought by Real Estate Exchange Inc, or REX.
Multiple Listing Services are databases of properties for sale in given regions used by NAR members and other realty professionals.
Both companies said they would vigorously fight the lawsuit.
“(We) believe the claims are without merit,” a Zillow spokesperson said.
The NAR said that the lawsuit “has no legal basis.”
“It has been long recognized that the MLS system provides considerable pro-consumer, pro-competition value. REX’s lawsuit seeks to undermine that,” said NAR spokesman Mantill Williams.
REX said in the lawsuit that it had successfully shown homes on Zillow’s website until shortly after the online company struck a deal with the NAR last year to join the organization.
Zillow also said that it would use MLS data feeds for its website but gave no details, the lawsuit said.
“Without any significant warning, Zillow unveiled its newly designed web display in mid-January 2021. The new web display creates a separate page, concealed behind the primary results, where REX homes are now funneled,” the lawsuit said.
Zillow website users are shown MLS listings as a default while REX homes are behind an “other listings” tab, the lawsuit said.
The change in the website has meant that REX homes are getting many fewer viewings on Zillow, with fewer resulting sales, the lawsuit said.
REX asked the court to order Zillow to stop categorizing REX homes under “other listings,” and to pay damages and attorney fees.
Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky