Zillow

Zillow Class-Action Suit Regarding RESPA Violations to Proceed

The class-action lawsuit filed against Zillow regarding its “co-marketing” program and whether it violated federal anti-kickback laws will proceed as planned, The Washington Post reports. The suit, filed in September 2017, alleges that the company ran afoul of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) by allowing lenders share advertising fees with real estate agents — up to 90 percent initially — effectually allowing the lenders to receive leads on active buyers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2017 notified Zillow that it was being investigated regarding the alleged violations, to which the company attempted to negotiate with the bureau; however, the case was dropped when the Trump Administration appointed its new CFPB director. Judge John C. Coughenour of the U.S. District Court in Seattle denied Zillow’s motion to dismiss saying: “the court can draw a reasonable inference that Zillow designed the co-marketing program to allow agents to provide referrals to lenders in violation of RESPA.” A trial date has not been set.

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Antitrust Regulators Focus on Real Estate Data

The real estate sector is getting fresh scrutiny from U.S. antitrust regulators regarding a proposed centralized system, known as Upstream, that is designed to offer a single point of entry for inputting, managing, and distributing listings at the brokerage level, Bloomberg Law reports. The centralized system has been backed by The National Association of Realtors (NAR). Critics — including Trulia and Zillow — argue the project has the potential to impede competition in the market by placing a large share of valuable real estate data in the hands of one entity controlled by NAR and large brokerages. NAR settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008 on similar issues.

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