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Hamptons’ Real Estate Brokers Find Exclusivity Has Its Price

Posted  May 27, 2010

Although the Hamptons may be renowned as an exclusive vacation spot on New York’s Long Island, its real estate brokers may be getting some unwanted attention from the U.S. Department of Justice for expanding that exclusivity into the way they do business.

Apparently, the real estate industry has attracted the attention of antitrust investigators because of an online listing service – OpenRealNet Exchange, run by Hamptons Real Estate Online Inc. – that charges an annual fee of $50,000.  Brokers in the Hamptons use this service instead of Long Island’s Multiple Listing Service – which is open to all – or an East End service run by the Hamptons and North Fork Realtors Association.

In recent years, East End real estate agents have complained about, and even sued, OpenRealNet Exchange.  Such brokers have complained that the exclusive listing service is designed to keep commissions within a limited pool of brokers, rather than having to split them with additional brokers.

According to some real estate brokers, investigators have been contacting brokers in the area to question them about the online listing service.

While the antitrust division of the DOJ has declined to comment on whether they have started an investigation, it would not be surprising if the federal enforcers take action.  Certainly the immense fees charged by OpenRealNet Exchange could be considered a barrier to entry, effectively denying smaller real estate companies access to listings, and shutting them out of the Hamptons real estate business.

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement,