In a verdict announced late Friday afternoon, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Seattle determined that Zillow did not make deceptive change to its only agent listings that forced REX Real Estate to go out of business.
The jury found that REX did not prove Zillow used false advertising it its decision to put non-MLS listings on a different section of the website and that Zillow proved its defense on REX’s second claim that Zillow acted deceptively and unfairly.
The jury’s verdict came just days after Zillow filed a motion for judgement as a matter of the law, which would have allowed the judge to rule on the case instead of a jury.
“We’re pleased with today’s victory and are ready to move on and focus on what matters: helping customers who come to Zillow get into their next home,” Will Lemke, a spokesperson for Zillow, wrote in an email.
Originally filed by REX in March 2021, against Zillow and the National Association of Realtors, the lawsuit alleges that changes made to Zillow’s website “unfairly hides certain listings, shrinking their exposure and diminishing competition among real estate brokers.”
Two months prior, in January 2021, Zillow began moving homes out of its initial search results for sellers who chose not to use agents adhering to the NAR and local multiple listing service (MLS) practices, creating a two-tab design for agent listings and “other listings.”
In January 2022, NAR filed a countersuit claiming that REX uses false advertising and misleading claims to deceive consumers in violation of the Lanham Act, but the countersuit was dismissed in late April 2022.
In mid-May 2022, REX ceased its brokerage operations.
A little over a year later, in mid-June 2023, the three parties involved in the suit, all filed motions for summary judgment on at least some issues, if not the entire lawsuit.
While Judge Thomas Zilly dismissed REX’s antitrust claims against NAR and Zillow, he allowed the discount brokerage’s false advertising claim under the Lanham Act, and a claim for unfair or deceptive trade practices under Washington’s Consumer Protection Act (WCPA) to stand.
Attorneys for REX did not return a request for comment.