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Zillow Responds to Real Estate Startup’s Antitrust Suit

REX’s lawsuit against Zillow alleges that separating MLS listings from other listings gives the MLS listings an unfair advantage. Zillow says MLS rules leave it no choice.

NEW YORK – In April 30 court filings, Zillow said an antitrust lawsuit it faces over how it displays real estate listings could debilitate its platform.

REX, a real estate startup, asked a federal court to compel Zillow and its subsidiary, Trulia, to stop separating homes for sale into those listed by National Association of Realtors® (NAR) members and those listed by others. The NAR listings come from local Multiple Listing Services (MLSs).

In January, Zillow altered how it displays listings after it gained access to the MLS Internet Data Exchange (IDX) feeds, which it uses under rules established by NAR. Those rules prevent websites that use its data feeds from merging NAR listings with those offered by non-NAR agents.

Zillow said it believes the rules are obsolete, but it had to agree to IDX display licenses to get access to the IDX data. Zillow also said that access to MLS listings expanded its offerings. In Seattle where Zillow is headquartered for example, the company said it was able to add 3,000 more home listings after converting to the IDX feeds.

REX sued Zillow in federal court because it alleges that Zillow’s current arrangement favors listings by brokers who belong to NAR. REX says Zillow’s January change places non-NAR listings in a “hidden tab,” making it more difficult for consumers to find those homes for sale.

In an April 15 filing, REX said listings that moved from the “hidden tab” to Zillow’s primary listings tab experienced as much as a 500% increase in views. As a result, REX asked the court for an injunction that would prohibit Zillow from separating the listings.

Source: Politico (05/01/21) Nylen, Leah

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