“Because of multiple listing services (MLSs), we’re seeing unprecedented competition among brokers, especially when it comes to service and commissions. Many new and small businesses are competing specifically on commission with varied commission models and flat fees.”
This statement is partially true.
Open competition between Realtors does NOT currently exist in the US housing market because of these (4) reasons:
(1) Kickbacks increase commissions paid by consumers and steer consumers toward select number of broker collusion schemes (see Zillow.com Flex Program, Realtor.com (Opcity.com), Redfin.com Partner Agent Program, Opendoor.com Partner Agent Program, Rocket Homes, mellohome.com, HomeLight.com, UpNest.com, Clever Real Estate (listwithclever.com), SOLD.com, Landed.com, LemonBrew.com, OJO Labs, Xome.com, Better.com Real Estate, Tomo Brokerage (hellotomo.com), Blend.com Realty, Radius Agent, ReferralExchange.com, Ramsey Solutions, EffectiveAgents.com, TopAgentsRanked, Home Captain, MyAgentFinder.com, FastExpert Inc., HomeGain.com, Agent Pronto, AbodeHQ.com, MILLIE (AgentHeroRealty.com), HouseCanary.com (ComeHome.com), NestReady.com, IDEAL AGENT and others)
(2) Price fixing via “shell” broker-to-broker collusion schemes violates the Sherman Act, RESPA, FTC Act, pretty much every antitrust law there is (see Opcity, Opendoor Brokerage, IDEAL AGENT, UpNest, Clever Real Estate, Tomo Brokerage, Blend Realty etc.)
(3) Rebate bans in 10 US states are harmful by default
(4) A notion that buyer agents work for free is false
The DOJ must either dismantle these (4) barriers or dismantle the entire MLS.
The MLS systems are modern and pro-competitive, but they are also prone to abuse. As long as kickbacks and price-fixing operates in the sector as “standard” the MLS does not serve consumers — it serves massive collusion schemes.
Remarkably, it is unlikely that these schemes truly serve Realtors either. For example, whenever a Compass Realtor acts in collusion with Redfin Partner Program, or HomeLight, etc. they do benefit from more business, but they also slowly degrade their levels of service. In effect, collusion makes an average Realtor a vassal to the collusion, rather than a driver of competition.
The 2020 agreement with DOJ was never finalized. The proposed agreement was subject to a public comment, and based on the public comment (or not) the DOJ has decided to withdraw from the proposed agreement before it is finalized.
For example, I submitted my comment on November 19, 2020 asking to DOJ to include additional conditions into the agreement. DOJ is well within their rights here based on my public comment alone, and I am sure there were other comments as well. Accusing the DOJ of something that is perfectly legal is a waste of time.