U.S. Justice Department withdraws from settlement; launches probe of Realtors


FILE PHOTO: A for sale sign sits outside a house in Miami Beach October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

July 1, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it was withdrawing from a settlement with the National Association of Realtors to facilitate a broader investigation of the organization.

The department and the NAR had reached an agreement, announced in November, that required the organization either to scrap or change rules in order to give prospective home buyers more information about commissions for the brokers who represented them and to eliminate any misrepresentation that the services were free.

It also was to change rules that allow access to lock boxes only to brokers affiliated with the NAR.

The settlement would have restricted the Justice Department in pursuing additional probes of the association.

“The department is taking this action to permit a broader investigation of NAR’s rules and conduct to proceed without restriction,” the government said in a statement.

The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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