Columbia MLS Defends Membership Rules


Brokers defend database rules in Columba-area home listings

May 14, 2008

By Kristy Eppley Rupon – The State

A group of Columbia-area real estate brokers who control a vital database of homes for sale operate by unusual rules that can hurt consumers, federal regulators and some real estate agents said.

The costly rules restrict membership of some smaller agencies that could save home sellers around $3,000 in commissions on the sale of an average-price Midlands home, critics said.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Columbia-area Consolidated Multiple Listing Service this month.

The government seeks to lower membership fees that one official called “enormously high” and end restrictions on where offices are located.

Phil Shepard, owner of flat-fee broker near Charleston, said he didn’t join the Columbia listing service because he would need to have an office in the Midlands.

“They’re trying to ban the kind of business that we do there,” said Shepard, who has joined six other listing services in the state.

Members of the listing service board — which includes brokers from the Columbia area’s dominant firms — say they have not rejected anyone for membership.

“The rules were developed to upgrade the professionalism, abide by state law and to protect the consumer,” said Ron Roe, a listing service board member and CEO of Russell & Jeffcoat Realtors. “I challenge anybody to object to that.”


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