Deal May Ease Online House Hunting
ROBERT SMITH, host:
It could get a little easier to find your next home on the Internet. Online-based real estate agents should soon have access to the kind of market information that was once exclusive to brick-and-mortar realtors. That's because the Justice Department has tentatively settled an anti-trust case against the National Association of Realtors.
NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.
YUKI NOGUCHI: The Multiple Listing Service - or MLS - is a critical tool for realtors. It's a database that contains almost all home listings in any market, so traditional realtors worried about allowing it to get into the hands of online rivals.
Mr. MICHAEL DAVIN: Anybody can see when consumers gain access to market data they don't need as much handholding when they buy a house as they would otherwise. Same thing if I'm buying a television set. I can do a lot of my research online, so when I go into the store I'm ready to buy.
NOGUCHI: That's Michael Davin, president of Catalist Homes in Hermosa Beach. His southern California realty is both online and traditional. He said he's happy about the settlement because it ensures customers will see all MLS data on his site.
Justice Department officials also said more competition could lower the fees consumers pay. For its part, the National Association of Realtors also declared victory. It didn't have to pay any fines or admit wrongdoing.
Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.
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