In the real estate world, there's an old saying explaining the three reasons for the relative value of properties: Location; location; location. One prime location that was verboten for realtors has been the Internet. The National Association of Realtors had obstructed member realtors from using the Internet to mine the Multiple Listing Service for their clients. The Department of Justice didn't like the anti-competitive nature of only allowing traditional brokers access to the MLS, and filed suit in Chicago to end the practice. They've now reached a settlement with the NAR, and Internet-based realtors will no longer be treated as second-class brokers.
With the settlement, NAR will enact a new policy that guarantees that Internet-based brokerage companies will not be treated differently than traditional brokers. Under the new policy, brokers participating in a NAR-affiliated MLS will not be permitted to withhold their listings from brokers who serve their customers through virtual office websites.
In addition, brokers will be able to use their Web sites to educate consumers, make referrals, and conduct brokerage services. Such brokers will not be excluded from MLS membership based on their business model. NAR will report to the Department any allegations of noncompliance.
Look for this to put intense pressure on traditional realtors to drop their fees. The Internet is for houses now.