NAR dismissed from pocket listing ban lawsuit

Two days after The PLS.com and three of the nation’s largest multiple listing services notified the court they had reached a settlement in their ongoing legal battle, the listing site filed a motion to dismiss the only remaining defendant, the National Association of Realtors, without prejudice.

The filing came after a court status hearing last Friday during which Judge John W. Holcomb of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles decided to place the suit in “inactive status” due to the settlement agreements reached with Bright MLS, California Regional MLS and Midwest Real Estate Data last Wednesday. Due to this, Holcomb ordered that the parties had to file a stipulation of dismissal or a motion to reopen if settlement has not been consummated by Feb. 26, 2024. According to the order, if a motion was not filed before the deadline, the suit would be dismissed on Feb. 27, 2024.

The details of the settlement agreement with the MLS defendants have not yet been published.

Originally filed in May 2020, the lawsuit takes aim at NAR’s ban on pocket listings. The plaintiff claimed that the ban takes away agents’ marketing choices, and they alleged that the requirement for listing brokers to submit a listing to their MLS within one business day of marketing a property to the public violates the federal Sherman Antitrust Act.

In addition, the suit argued that if there was competition for the MLSs it would result in cascading “lower costs,” starting with the fees MLSs charge agents. The original lawsuit was dismissed in Feb. 2021, but The PLS.com (the “P” stands for property and not pocket) appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, catching the eye of the Department of Justicewhich relaunched its probe into NAR in July of 2021, leading to a separate legal battle between the DOJ and the trade group.

The PLS.com was founded in 2017 by Mauricio Umansky, David Barnes, James Harris and Christopher Dyson. In 2021, the site, which showcases listings nationwide, rebranded to The NLS.com.

Last Tuesday, Umansky, along with Compass luxury agent Jason Haber, launched an agent trade group alternative to NAR, the American Real Estate Association. In their announcement, Umansky and Haber noted that The NLS.com would serve as the listing platform for the new trade group.

“NAR is pleased that PLS decided to dismiss this long-pending litigation without NAR making any payment or rule change,” Mantill Williams, NAR’s vice president of communications, wrote in an email.

The counsel for the plaintiffs did not wish to comment.