This may be the new mantra of the DOJ when it comes to its current anti-trust case against the National Association of REALTORS. The boys at Freakonomics are at it again with an interesting post about some inside scoop on settlement discussions.
In a recent presentation [link removed] to some MLS folks, I concluded that the DOJ has absolutely no incentive to settle this case unless NAR comes to its knees on the issue of who is a “broker” for purposes of access to MLS listing data. I also believe that this case is very analogous to the Visa/Mastercard case brought by the DOJ in 1998. That case took 5 years to reach its conclusion. Based on that same time line, the NAR case could easily stick around until 2010.
Every day that goes by without resolution of this case helps the new real estate players gain necessary traction in their quest to legitimacy. If NAR settles the case and gives the DOJ what it wants (open access to all “brokers”), Katy bar the door. If NAR holds out and we don’t have resolution until 2010, then (regardless of the end ruling in the case), the practical effect may likely be the same with these “new” models then being accepted as part of the real estate brokerage industry.
This case, like the Visa/Mastercard case, is about innovation or maybe the lack thereof. Query the impact if the human and monetary resources that are being used to defend this case were instead re-directed to innovate on behalf of traditional brokers to leverage the riches of data that lies within its control.