The CNMC has sanctioned Anaconda; Idealistic; Immovilla; Look & Find; MLS; Remax and Witei for having carried out a series of agreements to fix prices and exchange information in the real estate brokerage market. Here you can read the final file.
These practices constitute a single and continuous infringement of articles 1 of Law 15/2007 , of July 3, on the Defense of Competition and 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, constituting a cartel, according to the statement of the CNMC. When distributing the fine of 1.25 million euros, Idealista must pay 730,000 euros (although it is true that it is the firm with the highest turnover of those sanctioned) and Remax 375,000. The rest is distributed in a similar way among the other sanctioned portals.
In November 2019, the CNMC carried out various inspections at the headquarters of various companies and associations in the real estate brokerage sector. Subsequently, in February 2020, the CNMC initiated a file against the companies now sanctioned.
The system that raised suspicions
Always according to the CNMC statement, the companies used a system known as MLS (Multiple Listing System). This collaboration system, imported from the United States, works through a database that allows real estate users to share properties captured under a shared exclusive regime.
When a real estate user of the MLS captures a property (sale / rent), it can include it in the system, which allows the rest of the users to make the sale. In this case, the “recruiting office” and the “selling office” share the commission agreed for the global brokerage service offered.
MLS in Spain
In 2002, the Remax and Look & Find companies promoted the project in our country. Habitania, later acquired by Idealista (Idealista Tools) , was in charge of technological development. In 2012, Inmovilla and Habitania adapted their systems so that they were both compatible with the system. In 2017, the Anaconda company, made up of Remax, Look & Find and MLS, joined the structure and was in charge of developing and managing a common property sharing base.
In addition to the franchising companies Remax and Look & Find, the real estate software providers Idealista (through Idealista Tools), Inmovilia and Witei actively contributed to developing and implementing the system through which the infringement was committed.
The Idealista defense
From Idealista they argue that the resolution confirms what the portal always defended: the object of the investigation that the CNMC never had anything to do with the use of malicious algorithms to manipulate the rental price.
In their defense, from the communication department they assure that “Idealista has been the company of the seven sanctioned to which the lowest sanction is imposed in percentage terms , a reflection of its limited liability in the alleged practices carried out by real estate agencies. The amount of 730,000 with which the CNMC sanctions idealista is the result of applying the lowest percentage to idealista’s turnover, the highest of the investigated companies “.
Rules of Procedure
The franchisors that developed this MLS system approved a mandatory regulation for real estate users that required a minimum commission of 4% on sales and one month on rentals. It also imposed a 50% commission distribution between the property’s capturing office and the one that closed the transaction.
Failure to comply with the rules could lead to disciplinary sanctions and even the suspension of associate status, with the consequent impossibility of accessing the real estate exchange.
The software companies also participated in the anticompetitive conduct, since they were in meetings to design the system and established filters and other means of control that ensured that all properties uploaded to the system met the conditions required in the internal regulations.
The implementation of a software that allowed the monitoring of fees in properties captured from competitors and access to sensitive information among them made it possible to ensure the application of the system in the real estate market, which is characterized by being fragmented on the supply and supply side. demand.
Consequently, both the standards and the software developments limited competition between real estate companies by establishing minimum commissions and other commercial conditions and generating a level of transparency incompatible with the necessary competition between entities.
In addition, they excluded from the benefits of the MLS system those entities that were not willing to accept the anti-competitive rules contained in the regulations.