Saturday, May 28, 2016

'Magicbricks' isn't a dominant player in market of real estate brokers in India: CCI

Facts:

a) The Confederation of Real Estate Brokers' Association of India ('Informant'), was a confederation of thirty five real estate brokers association, having combined membership of approximately 20,000 real estate brokers. The informant filed case against Magicbricks.com, 99acres.com, Housing.com,Commonfloor.com and Nobroker.in ('OP's) alleging that advertising 'No Brokerage Policy' (NBP) on their websites, mobile applications, newspapers, etc., were imposing unfair and discriminatory conditions on the traditional real estate brokers who were doing real estate business on the basis of commission.

b) It was alleged that because of the practice of these top players and other online real estate listing portals of not charging broking charge/commission or charging much less compared to traditional brokerage fee of 2 per cent of the sale/purchase value of a property, the traditional real estate brokers had not been able to compete with them and, therefore, they had been losing their business. The informant also alleged that OPs were dominant players as they were top real estate listing websites in India.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) held as under:

1. CCI observes that India is one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets. With the growth of e-commerce, the number of online portals engaged in the activities of real estate listing, property finder solution, etc., have been increasing. It is observed that besides OPs, there are also many other real estate listing sites which are offering similar services, providing various options to the consumers.

2. Since both the online platforms and the off-line traditional brokers are offering similar services to the customers, CCI is of the opinion that on-line and off-line services of brokers cannot be distinguished while defining the relevant product market in the instant case. Both are alternative channels of delivering the same service. So, the market for 'the services of real estate brokers/agents' is considered as the relevant product market in the instant case.

3. It is observed that the traditional brokers/agents provide services within their respective localities whereas OPs offer their services anywhere in India. Therefore, the relevant geographic market in instant case is considered as 'India'.


4. On the issue of dominance, the presence of a large number of listing sites and traditional brokers in the said relevant market pose competitive restraint on each other and, hence, no specific player can act independently of the market forces and affect the consumers or other players in its favour. On the issue of dominance, the presence of a large number of listing sites and traditional brokers in the said relevant market pose competitive restraint on each other and, hence, no specific player can act independently of the market forces and affect the consumers or other players in its favour.

5. Therefore, CCI is of the view that OPs who are online portals engaged in activities of real estate listing property are not dominant player in relevant market. Thus, it has been decided that none of the OPs are dominant in the relevant market. [2016] 69 taxmann.com 293
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