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MLS defendants look to dismiss antitrust suit filed by Zillow

ARMLS and Metro MLS claim decision to only offer Aligned Showings was not the result of collusion

Arizona Regional MLS and  Wisconsin-based Metro MLS are looking to have the antitrust lawsuit filed against them by Zillow Group and ShowingTime dismissed.

Filed in late December 2023, the lawsuit alleges that ARMLS, Metro MLS and the parent company of showing platform Aligned Showings, MLS Aligned, are “unlawfully attempting to monopolize the market for real estate showing management services in the geographic regions they control and from unlawfully conspiring to exclude or severely limit ShowingTime, their competitor in those markets.”

According to the initial complaint, in late 2023, the MLS defendants made the decision to only offer Aligned Showings to their members instead of both Aligned Showings and ShowingTime, which had been offered through the MLS defendants “for years.” MLS Aligned is a joint venture set up among the MLS defendants and other unspecified MLSs.

On Tuesday, the MLS defendnats filed a motion to dismiss the suit with prejudice, writing that “The Court should look at this purported antitrust case with great skepticism from the outset.”

In the motion, the defendants claim that Zillow and ShowingTime’s “true grievance is not that the MLS Defendants are engaging in anticompetitive practices, but that ShowingTime—the dominant provider of showing management services nationally—is (ironically) now facing competition in a few regions.”

According to the motion, the complaint is falsely interpreting antitrust law, alleging that the plaintiffs view competition as a “mortal threat” and not a “cornerstone of American capitalism.”

“Courts long have affirmed that the ‘central purpose’ of the antitrust laws is to preserve and foster competition,” the motion states. “Those acts that result in more competition are therefore both consistent with, and further the basic goals of, the antitrust laws. Here, however, the dominant player in the market for showing management services (ShowingTime) and its corporate parent (Zillow) seek to impose antitrust liability on Defendants—and to recover treble damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees—for alleged injuries that flow directly from an increase in competition.”

In their motion, the defendants state that their decision to work solely with MLS Aligned was “not the product of any collusion of conspiracy.” The defendants state that in 2023, they made an independent assessment and determined that it was in their best interests to choose to work with a different provider.

The motion also claims that the complaint doesn’t contain sufficient factual matter, and that the complaint fails to allege an antitrust injury and an actionable antitrust violation.

Zillow Group, which bought ShowingTime in 2021, did not return a request for comment.

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