REX’s antitrust claims against Zillow and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) have been laid to rest.
A U.S. District Court Judge ruled against the Texas-based start-up on Wednesday, June 9, stating allegations that Zillow has been giving preferential treatment to NAR broker listings didn’t hold up in court.
“[The] Plaintiff has not supported its claim that there is any deception that is injuring a substantial portion of the purchasing public,” said U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly in the case file.
The decision comes months after REX filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the two organizations, claiming recent changes to Zillow’s webpage have been biasedly steering users to listings connected to NAR.
The issue stemmed mainly from Zillow’s decision earlier to transition from a real estate search portal into its buying-and-selling entity earlier in 2021. Part of the shift included Zillow joining Multiple Listing Services and gathering listing data from the service’s IDX feeds.
REX had claimed that recent changes to Zillow’s website “segregate, conceal and demote” listings that aren’t from the MLS, putting REX at a disadvantage and potentially harming their business.
According to Wednesday’s ruling, REX didn’t present enough evidence to support the claims.
“Plaintiff has not met its burden to show that the ‘net impression’ of the Zillow websites, viewed as a whole rather than the websites’ individual parts, is likely to mislead a substantial portion of the purchasing public,” read the court filing.
The court also directed REX to stop referring to NAR and Zillow as a “cartel,” which was a significant point in a commissioned article published in the UC Berkeley Business Law Journal (BBLJ) that the company paid for.
The March article accused NAR and its members of engaging in “anti-competitive practices” using the term to describe the organization.
“The Court discourages any future use of the term “cartel” to describe Defendants’ conduct, which is neither persuasive nor remotely accurate,” read an excerpt from the court ruling.
Ultimately, the Judge handed Zillow and NAR the legal victory after finding that Zillow’s changes to its website wouldn’t cause “irreparable harm” to REX’s business as the start-up initially asserted.
NAR appears to be pleased with the court’s decision.
“The fact that the allegations against us don’t hold up to scrutiny reinforces our position that this lawsuit is nothing more than a frivolous attempt to make up for REX’s business shortcomings,” said NAR spokesman Wes Shaw in an emailed statement to RISMedia.
“Litigation over antitrust laws is not meant to serve as a business strategy,” the statement continued. “Courts have repeatedly held that the laws are there to protect consumers and competition, not competitors. The MLS system puts consumers first by enabling equitable access for buyers, sellers and small business brokerages to the most comprehensive and accurate information about homes for sale.”
Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news to firstname.lastname@example.org.