The FTC’s Competition Director held a press conference today to announce legal actions against two Detroit multiple listing services for refusing to publish listings at a reduced commission. Five other listing services in Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, and Wisconsin rolled over, and agreed to publish the listings rather than fight the FTC. What it means for Redfin is that we can be more aggressive about publishing information without too much MLS pushback.
Every journalist we talked to this morning was surprised the Detroit MLS is standing its ground (especially after seeing the Austin MLS cave last year to the FTC), in flagrant violation of anti-trust law, mostly on principle. On the other hand, if you had to guess what part of the country would be drawn into a street fight without regard for appearances, wouldn’t it be Detroit?
The case will be heard next year by an anti-trust judge in Washington, D.C. The image the FTC’s press release (“law enforcement sweep”) conjures up is of midnight raids, bright lights and lots of yelling, dazed white-collar professionals being led away in handcuffs. But the wheels of justice move more slowly.
Listening to the press conference, which these days seems a little quaint, reminded me how appealing the basic forms of journalism can be: I like the way the journalists stand up and say their own names and that of their newspapers before asking a question, I like the staccato pace of the questions, the rambling answers, the follow-up questions.