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Consumers awarded $2.4 million in anti-trust lawsuit against MLS and Brokers

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Logue vs. Pennsylvania real estate players

Pennsylvania homeowner Thomas Logue filed a class action lawsuit in April 2010, alleging that a group of real estate brokerages and a local MLS (and its board of directors) conspired to keep broker commissions artificially high by limiting competition among companies, according to court documents. The area real estate companies stifled competition by keeping some rival businesses from effectively marketing properties, blocking discount brokers from listing in the MLS, alleges the suit, which Logue’s attorneys say caused him to pay more than was necessary to list his home in 2006.

This summer, a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement in the case was approved by the judge after denying a motion to dismiss by the defendants, laying the ground for this week’s approval of a settlement in the amount of $2.4 million, of which Logue’s attorneys will receive $1 million and Logue will receive $10,000. Court documents do not reveal the number of buyers that will split the remaining $1.39 million.

Logue filed the lawsuit against West Penn Multilist Inc., Howard Hanna Real Estate, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Freeman Realty, Northwood Realty and Prudential Preferred Realty regarding purchases through these companies between February 13, 2005 and February 13, 2009.

Anti-trust laws were established in the 1800s to protect consumers from cartels and monopolies, which this case showed was in play on the Pennsylvania real estate scene. MLS companies have long struggled with business rules that dictate what is legitimate and what is not, and in this case, the judge agreed to this $2.4 million settlement alleging the brokerages and the MLS, along with their board of directors blocked discount brokerages.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. bruce hahn

    November 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Great news!

    If this effort spreads to the many other MLSs employing similar efforts to prop up real estate commission rates, the cost of selling American homes could drop significantly.

    We need more lawsuits like this to stop these anticompetitive practices.

    Bruce Hahn
    President
    American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance

    Serving the interests of the nation's 70 million homeowners and future homeowners since 1984.

    The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance is a nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization dedicated to assisting the nation's 70 million homeowners understand significant policy issues affecting homeowners and homeownership, and empowering homeowners to make their voices heard by state and federal officials.

    Visit our web site https://www.americanhomeowners.org. Contact us at: 6776 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22213-1213. Cell: 571-214-1013; Headquarters: 703-536-7776

  2. fredromano

    November 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Very interesting post. I wonder what proof they have on the MLS and other brokers. I have no doubt that this happens all over the country, and it's sad that it does.

    PS. I think having to login to comment really stinks. I like your old comment method, and I think you will get a lot less comments because of this new way.

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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