Settlement to Have Little Local Impact
DaParma, Ron, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A tentative settlement announced by the Justice Department and the National Association of Realtors last month is expected to give many Internet-based real estate agents nationwide access to home listings they previously were denied.
But the deal isn't expected to have much impact in the Pittsburgh area, real estate officials say.
Membership in West-Penn Multi-List Inc., the region's major home listing service, already is available to Internet-based agents, with listings open to those agents as long as they post their own listings there, said President George Hackett.
"As far as West Penn Multi-List is concerned, we have all types of companies in there who have their own method of selling," said Hackett, who is president of Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Pittsburgh. "Different companies offer different services people are looking for, and it's up to customers to make their own decision on what types of services they want."
While about 800 multi-listing services nationwide are affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, West Penn Multi-List is independent, owned and operated by major real estate brokers.
"We were never party to the lawsuit," said Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services Inc.
Casey is a member of the executive committee of the national association and had been involved in discussions about the proposed settlement with the Justice Department in Washington.
"This was really a pretty easy settlement" for the national association, Casey said, noting that there now are many more sources for accessing real estate information than just a few years ago.
The settlement neither imposes a fine on the National Association of Realtors nor forces the group to acknowledge liability.
The group represents 1.2 million real estate agents and other members in more than 250,000 locations nationwide.
The agreement, which settles a September 2005 lawsuit, was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. After court approval expected by late summer, it would be in effect for 10 years.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Deborah A. Garza of the Justice Department's antitrust division said the settlement "should lower the cost of the transaction for buying a house."
Real estate notes:
* Demolition is scheduled to begin June 15 on the interior of the 12-story Century Building, 130 Seventh St., Downtown, for construction of 60 apartments geared to "work force" tenants, said William Gatti, president, Trek Development Group Inc. The units, on the top nine floors, will have rental ranges of $450 a month for studios to $1,250 for two-bedrooms. …