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Zillow says REX antitrust suit wrecks its business plan

Zillow last week filed court documents claiming that a REX antitrust suit currently under consideration could “irreparably damage its business” by causing the platform to “lose access to listings data in markets across the country.”

Startup real estate company REX Homes (which isn’t afraid of litigation) wants a federal court to stop Zillow (and company subsidiary Trulia) from separating its listings into those listed by National Association of Realtors (NAR) member agents, and those that aren’t. Zillow says its contract with the NAR doesn’t allow the properties to be listed together. 

Rex Homes in March filed suit in Seattle federal court against Zillow Group, claiming that changes to Zillow’s listing methods unfairly categorizes homes, reducing some listings’ potential buyer visibility and reducing competition among agents. That filing came after Zillow gained access to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Internet Data Exchange. In order to use the NAR data, Zillow had to agree to separate its listings into “agent listings,” which include homes listed on an MLS, and “other listings,” which do not. 

Discount brokerage REX Homes advertises itself as “the full service, much lower-cost alternative to traditional real estate,” and has been fighting with industry heavyweights for months, now, in what REX says is an attempt to “create dramatically better outcomes and experiences for home buyers and sellers” by working “to reform traditional real estate by highlighting the industry’s anti-competitive and predatory practices.”

The REX antitrust suit claims the change makes it more difficult for consumers to find homes by “hiding” certain listings. In fact, in an April court filing, REX attorneys said that properties that were relocated from the non-NAR-represented hidden tab to the site’s main tab got as much as a 500% increase in views.  

Zillow and Trulia—which currently control 75% of the online real estate search market—claim that if REX’s injunction is granted, the company will lose access to the NAR data and thousands of listings. The court filing stated it would lose 3,000 listings just in its Seattle hometown.

REX will have its chance to respond to Zillow’s court filing in June.