Mega MLSs, but not NAR, settle pocket listing suit



Deal breakers refresh hero

CRMLS, Bright MLS and MRED told the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California’s Western Division they had reached a deal “in principle” with ThePLS.com.

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Three of the nation’s largest multiple listing services have reached a settlement in a yearslong pocket listing lawsuit, though the National Association of Realtors remains a defendant in the case.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, attorneys for defendants California Regional MLS (CRMLS), Bright MLS, and Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) and plaintiff ThePLS.com informed the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California’s Western Division that they had reached a settlement-in-principle of all claims between them, meaning they have agreed on key terms of a deal.

The filing requested that the court stay all deadlines pertaining to the settling defendants “to allow the settling parties to finalize the draft settlement agreement, to obtain necessary signatures, and to conserve judicial and party resources.”

On Thursday, Jan. 25, Judge John W. Holcomb granted their request.

In May 2020, The PLS, formerly a private listing network for real estate agents, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against NAR and the MLSs over a policy designed to curb pocket listings.

The suit alleged the defendants had violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and California’s Cartwright Act for adopting the Clear Cooperation Policy, which requires listing brokers to submit a listing to their MLS within one business day of marketing a property to the public.

Office exclusives, or listings marketed entirely within a brokerage without submitting them to an MLS, are exempt from the policy. Some real estate brokers have threatened mutiny over the office exclusives exception to the Clear Cooperation Policy, which they argue inadvertently benefits large, national brokerages at the expense of smaller, independent brokerages.

The controversial rule is meant to effectively end the growing practice of publicizing listings for days or weeks without making them universally available to other agents, in part to address fair housing concerns. The Clear Cooperation Policy went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and its implementation deadline was May 1, 2020. Some MLSs have instituted hefty fines to enforce it.

The PLS’s case was initially tossed in a lower court, but that decision was overruled on appeal and returned to the lower district court.

NAR is also fighting a similar pocket listing case brought by Top Agent Network, which is ongoing.

A spokesperson for Bright declined to comment but said they expected to be able to comment on Friday. CRMLS declined to comment. Inman has reached out to NAR for comment and will update this story if and when a response is received.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that the court granted the MLS defendants’ request for a stay.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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