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FTC Wins Right To Resume Realty Board Antitrust Case

 |  October 5, 2020

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won the right to resume its administrative case charging Louisiana’s real estate appraisal board with antitrust violations, when the Fifth Circuit lifted a stay that had blocked the proceedings for more than a year, reported Bloomberg Law.

The board isn’t covered by “state action” immunity against antitrust claims because the doctrine applies only to government agencies, not to private bodies vested with quasi-regulatory power, Judge Edith H. Jones wrote for the court, citing “the private incentives inherent in their structure.”

In 2019, the FTC filed an administrative complaint against the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board, alleging that the group is unreasonably restraining price competition for appraisal services in Louisiana, contrary to federal antitrust law. The complaint alleges that the appraisal board’s regulations exceeded the scope of the mandate outlined in the Dodd-Frank Act that required appraisal management companies to pay “a rate that is customary and reasonable for appraisal services performed in the market area of the property being appraised.” Specifically, the board required appraisal fees to equal or exceed the median fees identified in survey reports commissioned and published by the board. The board then investigated and sanctioned companies that paid fees below the specified levels.