It just got a little easier to do business as a Realtor on Nantucket.
Attorney General Maura Healey announced yesterday that the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc. (“NAREB”) has agreed to resolve allegations that its current membership requirements unfairly exclude competitors from the Nantucket real estate brokerage market.
The AG’s Office alleged that some of NAREB’s membership requirements for brokers – including having a physical office on the island, a potentially pretextual community involvement requirement, and high initiation fees – excluded competitors from the Nantucket real estate brokerage market, resulting in restrained competition in violation of Massachusetts consumer protection and antitrust laws.
“Competition is important to our markets and helps to ensure better results for consumers,” AG Healey said. “Organizations should not use membership rules or requirements to limit competitors where there is no basis to do so.”
NAREB allegedly controls a multiple listing service that lists the vast majority of real estate listings on Nantucket. Without this listing service – which full members of NAREB have access to – the AG’s Office alleged that a broker is effectively excluded from competing.
The agreement with NAREB, filed November 14th in Suffolk Superior Court, requires NAREB to allow brokers without a physical office on Nantucket to join the association if certain requirements regarding showing properties are met. NAREB will also reduce the initiation fee for new members from $5,000 to $500, and eliminate a potentially pretextual requirement of community involvement for membership. In addition, the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc., has agreed to pay $5,000 in costs of investigation.
This case was handled by Matthew Lyons, Assistant Attorney General, and Kyle Barr, paralegal/economic analyst, of Attorney General Maura Healey’s Antitrust Division.