Austin, Texas-based discount brokerage firm REX has announced that it is looking into joining the Multiple Listing Service system after it was forced into a second round of staff layoffs in two months.
REX is currently suing the National Association of Realtors and Zillow for what it feels is an unfair and exclusionary rule which states that MLS participants, including Zillow, must show listings from non-MLS members on a separate section of their websites.
As a discount brokerage that has relied heavily on the claim that American consumers pay too much in broker fees, REX has, until now, steadfastly refused to become a member of the MLS. Its lack of an MLS membership has seen its listings relegated to Zillow's 'Other Listings' tab which sees far fewer consumers eyeballs.
Now it seems that the PR battle and money spent on lawyers may have all been for nothing as according to realtor magazine The American Genius, REX's President and COO Lynley Sides said on a company call that REX would be looking to join several MLSs. An odd move given that a judge has already rebuked REX for referring to commission structures around the MLS system as a "cartel".
The news of REX's plans to join the MLS come as the discount brokerage was forced to lay off a reported 34 employees and shut down operations in some key markets. This comes on top of layoffs in August which saw 60 staff members lose their jobs without compensation.
The company, which is led by former Republican Senatorial candidate jack Ryan, has received several rounds of private equity funding and upon announcing the August round of job losses was able to make public its latest Series D funding round.
Whether the latest news impacts the still ongoing court case against Zillow and the NAR remains to be seen.