The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will become the subject of a Justice Department case reopening that focuses on home sale commissions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a lower-court ruling from 2023 from the Justice Department’s request for more information from NAR. This decision gives the Justice Department the all-clear to investigate the matter further.

Justice Department to reopen case

The Justice Department has filed amicus briefs and statements of interest that the “United States enforces the federal antitrust laws and has a significant interest in preventing anticompetitive conduct in the real estate industry. Over the last two decades, the United States has investigated and challenged various rules and practices of the National Association of Realtors (“NAR”) and regional multiple listing services.”

This case reopening is another major body blow for the NAR after the most powerful housing realtor group agreed to pay nearly half a billion in a March 15 settlement agreement.

The NAR will be reeling from the settlement that “is subject to court approval, makes clear that NAR continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) cooperative compensation model rule (MLS Model Rule) that was introduced in the 1990s in response to calls from consumer protection advocates for buyer representation. Under the terms of the agreement, NAR would pay $418 million over approximately four years.”

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division would comment on the DC court decision. He said that “real-estate commissions in the United States greatly exceed those in any other developed economy, and this decision restores the Antitrust Division’s ability to investigate potentially unlawful conduct by NAR that may be contributing to this problem.”

“The Antitrust Division is committed to fighting to lower the cost of buying and selling a home. I would like to commend the staff of the Antitrust Division and our colleagues in the department for achieving this important result.”

Interim CEO of NAR, Nykia Wright said “NAR is focused firmly on the future and on leading this industry forward. We are committed to innovation and defining the next steps that will allow us to continue providing unmatched value to members and American consumers.”

The NAR will be hoping that the findings of the Justice Department will be above board and will not add to the recent fines that the entity has received as part of federal pressure on the real estate group.

Image: Ideogram.

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