Seattle-based real estate platform, REX – Real Estate Exchange Inc., has been granted permission to question Zillow Group Chief Executive Officer Rich Barton in the company’s antitrust lawsuit against Zillow and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
US District Judge Thomas Zilly granted the permission last week as part of a lawsuit, initially filed in 2021, accusing the companies of anticompetitive business practices, according to Reuters.
Zillow’s lawyers had initially opposed any questioning of Mr Barton, who co-founded the company in 2005, but Judge Zilly ordered that REX could depose him for up to three hours.
REX’s lawsuit alleges that Zillow and NAR redesigned Zillow’s consumer website in 2021 in conjunction with NAR to “segregate, conceal and demote” home listings that were not part of NAR’s member-operated multiple listing services.
These listings are databases that show residential real estate for sale in regions across the country.
The change allegedly caused views on REX’s listings to decrease significantly.
REX sought to question Mr Barton about Zillow’s decision to join multiple listing services and its move to buy houses and originate mortgages.
Zillow reported $2 billion in revenue last year.
Zillow and NAR have both denied liability and are contesting the claims in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Zillow dispute there was any agreement with NAR and deny that the website redesign harmed competition.
Zillow’s vice president of industry development has a deposition scheduled later this month.
The complaint is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction “from continuing to engage in any anticompetitive conduct”.
A Zillow spokesperson declined to comment on the pending case, and a representative from NAR had no immediate comment, Reuters said.
REX and its lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
A trial is scheduled for September 18th.