NAR was previously cited in 2008 for adopting policies that restrained competition from innovative real estate brokers in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Here is the link to the Department of Justice final judgment. Part of the premise for the lawsuit was the presentation of information that explained, "NAR's policy significantly alters the rules that govern MLSs by permitting traditional brokers to discriminate against other brokers based on their business model, denying them the full benefits of MLS participation. The Department's lawsuit seeks to ensure that traditional brokers, through NAR's policy, cannot deprive consumers of the benefits that would flow from these new ways of competing." (http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/press_releases/2005/211008.htm)
Note that the final judgment specifically states that, "Defendant has not admitted and does not admit either the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint or any liability or wrongdoing..."
In addition, you will find at IX. NO LIMITATION ON GOVERNMENT RIGHTS: "Nothing in this Final Judgment shall limit the right of the United States to investigate and bring actions to prevent or restrain violations of the antitrust laws concerning any Rule or practice adopted or enforced by NAR or any of its Member Boards."
Section IX is your hint people... I'm just sayin' if you have a question feel free to ask NAR first and the Department of Justice second. If members from all over the country have a "freedom of speech" concern I am quite sure those concerns will be addressed by someone in a position of authority to safeguard our rights to be innovative and express ourselves.
I try to exhaust my administrative mechanisms before gearing up to do battle on a higher level, but sometimes it doesn't work out the way you plan. That's why I love blogging. It's instant. It's global. You say exactly what you mean and the whole world knows how you feel.
Right now I feel a wee bit cranky that one of my beloved forum writers is upset. Nothing flips my b*tch switch faster than someone messing with one of my Club Chaos bay-bays. Please give my friend Elizabeth your support and visit her blogs.
As a notoriously unconventional writer I do not take kindly to any hint of a restriction on my ability to express my quirky opinions (whether they be brilliant or beguilingly stupid - LOL). ;-)
My faith in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been shaken. My faith in the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has been shaken. My faith in the Sacramento Board of REALTORS® (SAR) has been shaken, too. I have adopted and work by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. That link takes you to an article on About.com where I have defended the differences between agents and REALTORs®, especially for those readers who believe there is no difference.
The National Association of REALTORS® advertises to home buyers and home sellers on the pages I am paid to write for the Homebuying site at About.com. About.com is owned by The New York Times. I used to feel such joy and pride. Now I feel sadness when I look at those ads.
Did you know that by accepting membership in an Association of REALTORS®, an agent agrees that the Association can, at its discretion, file a complaint against that agent based upon a narrow interpretation of the Code of Ethics -- even if that interpretation and allegation is unfounded and untrue? The agent can't even discuss the allegations in public or the agent can risk a loss of membership in the MLS. The Association is free to make up its own rules.
If you are writing for a national publication or perhaps simply writing in a public forum that is recognized within your community, that exposure and recognition might come back to you bite you. While the grievance process is important, valid and needed to assure quality among agents -- because there are always a few agents who will try to the bend the rules -- that process can be abused.
The Code of Ethics is a shield that ensures the integrity of our profession. I believe in it. But what do you do if that shield gets turned into a weapon and it's pointed at you?
Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying columnist for The New York Times-owned About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout Sacramento. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate. DRE License # 00697006.
The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, available through bookstores everywhere and at Amazon.com.
Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.
The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of Lyon Real Estate.
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