Discount brokerage REX filed its antitrust lawsuit in March. But in a new filing, Zillow calls REX’s claims “selfish” and without merit.
Almost two months after discount real estate agent REX filed an antitrust lawsuit against Zillow, the online giant hit back, saying in a new release on Friday that the case was unfounded.
In the filing, which is technically a contradiction in terms of REX’s lawsuit, Zillow says REX filed the lawsuit because it was “dissatisfied with Zillow’s independent decision to get faster, more reliable, and better data for Zillow’s consumers “. Zillow’s filing calls REX’s lawsuit “selfish” and says that “Zillow did not conspire with anyone to harm REX.”
Zillow filed the appeal late Friday night. Inman reached out to REX Friday night but didn’t answer right away.
The filing is in response to a lawsuit REX filed in early March. This lawsuit names Zillow, Trulia, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as defendants, and it argues that they have effectively conspired to maintain a status quo that requires buyers to pay buyer-broker commissions.
REX’s lawsuit states that the company was founded to “drastically reduce commissions”. One option is to work outside of Multiple Listing Services (MLS). These are collaborative data feeds, often provided by local brokerage associations, that allow broker websites to share property listings more easily and consistently.
In other words, REX wants to offer a discounted service but believes that NAR and Zillow are thwarting their efforts to do so.
Zillow was dragged into the case because the way he received his entries had changed. Historically, the company received listings through a patchwork of thousands of separate feeds through agreements with brokers and MLSs. However, Zillow recently switched to an IDX feed, which reduced the number of data streams entering the company to around 600.
The move meant that Zillow was bound by local MLS rules. It was also about Zillow’s giving the agent lists a higher priority so that those lists that are more prominent can also generate the perception of fewer lists overall. In the Zillow mobile app, agent and non-agent lists are displayed on different tabs.
REX questioned these changes, saying they caused its own listings to “lose significant traffic” according to the lawsuit. The company also believes that the changes “have a significant impact on REX’s reputation, ability to implement its innovative and disruptive business model and consumer shift from REX to the MLS regime and ensure higher commissions for the benefit of NAR members” .
“Zillow’s recent website changes make non-MLS listings accessible only through an in-depth, covert and misleading tab that consumers don’t see and deceive even professional real estate agents,” the lawsuit argues.
REX’s complaint applies for damages and an injunction to remove entries associated with REX from the area of non-agent entries on the Zillow search portal.
However, in his new court filing, Zillow questioned the lawsuit’s allegations, saying that REX’s “request that its entries be on a different tab” does not make Zillow’s actions a conspiracy or boycott, and certainly not one per se Antitrust Violation. Zillow also describes REX as a “vertical supplier” of real estate advertisements rather than a competitor, which means that a conspiracy against the company doesn’t “make sense”.
“Indeed, Zillow benefits from having as many listings as possible on its online platforms,” the company argued, later adding, “that while REX can model its business after aggregators like Zillow and others, REX cannot Right to dictate. ” the design of Zillow’s online platforms. “
The new court record also argues that REX knew changes were coming to Zillow’s platform but waited until months later to seek relief.
In a statement emailed to Inman, a Zillow spokesperson added, “We believe REX’s claims are unfounded.”
“As an MLS participant, we must adhere to the MLS rules and regulations,” the spokesman continued. “We always advocate rules that benefit our consumers and the industry as a whole and drive innovation for everyone.”
In addition to the lawsuit against Zillow, REX has filed an antitrust lawsuit against a number of Oregon state officials and agencies. Additionally, there are currently several legal disputes aimed at the seller paying a brokerage commission on behalf of buyers.
In any event, Zillow’s new filing ultimately concludes that “the company’s conduct is motivated by legitimate business concerns” and that REX “cannot demonstrate irreparable harm”. And filing ends with asking a judge to deny REX’s request for an injunction.
Read Zillow’s latest submission here:
Email Jim Dalrymple II