Active Rain June 17, 2009

Anti- Competitive Move? Wisconsin Brokerage Could Invite the Feds Back

According to Inman News, Wisconsin’s largest real estate brokerage has adopted a policy of excluding the listings of non-traditional brokers from appearing on it’s site in home searches. This is not good in my view, for several reasons. 


  • After a long battle with the Department of Justice is finally over for the NAR, one of it’s members is now virtually inviting another case to be filed. The last case did not exactly go well for the NAR, and was bad for the public’s perception of REALTORS.
  • When a consumer searches for homes online on a broker’s site, they expect to see the search criteria set up in a way that benefits them. They want to see all the available listings, not just the profitable ones. The move is therefore anti-consumer. 
  • It could easily be construed as an anti-competitive maneuver by the Department of Justice. The DOJ prohibits policies which are solely in the interest of brokerage and not consumers, and I can see an argument to the contrary. 
  • Can you say “bully?” Non-traditional brokers in Wisconsin pose no threat to the state’s largets brokerage. This strikes me as an ad-hominem attack. Home sellers who are cost-conscious are more likely to go For Sale By Owner in the absence of discounters, so it isn’t like the firm is protecting their most likely prospect base. Wisconsin, by the way, has one of the largest local For Sale by Owner websites in the USA. Coincidence? You decide. 
  • Too many people already view the real estate industry, especially NAR members, as running a cabal. I hear accusations of collusion, price-fixing and other anti-consumer practices far too often. 
It is my belief that limited service and gimmick firms will always either fail organically or forever be limited in their market share because the brokerage of real estate is fundamentally different from any other type of transaction, both in price and scope. If you are a consumer and truly believe that paying less will get you the same service, go for it. Given the chance, I think that consumers will figure out on their own that they will get what they pay for. If you give them enough rope they’ll hang themselves. They don’t need to be bullied. 
For that reason and many others, this company’s move was not smart. 
Search the MLS like an agent here. New York’s Premier Short Sale REALTOR. Read my short sale bog here. See the New York Photo blog here. J. Philip Serves Briarcliff Manor, Ossining, the River Towns, Westchester County, and the bedroom counties of New York City.