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    Belgium’s real estate sites go to war

    Credit: Belga

    Belgium’s biggest real estate site Immoweb has announced that it intends to sue its competing site, Immoscoop. 

    Immoweb is accusing Immoscoop of violating unfair competition regulations. The case will be examined by a referral court on Wednesday. 

    Immoscoop is a cooperative company of 565 estate agents and was founded in 2016. The site has rapidly become popular over the last few years, especially in the Antwerp region. “We are fourth nationally when it comes to the number of visits, but first or second in Antwerp”, says their spokesman Wim Peleman. “We are also experiencing organic growth in other regions”. 

    Immoweb says Immoscoop has violated unfair competition regulations, so is taking Immoscoop and its five founding estate agents to court. Market leader Immoweb says “Immoscoop is different from other sites because it is not neutral” and “only serves the estates agent’s interests”. Immoweb claims Immoscoop affiliated estate agents boycott other real estate sites by only placing adverts on their own platform for a few months. 

    “The collective boycott of non-Immoscoop affiliated real estate sites aims to restrict competition between participating estate agents and does so, to the detriment of the consumer”, the lawsuit says. “Their tactic is obvious: the higher the number of estate agents that join the boycott, the less competition there is and the longer the boycott can last”. 

    The Immoscoop spokesman responded by saying he was convinced the company had not violated any of the unfair competition regualtions and said Immoweb was trying to intimidate Immoscoop. “We have a feeling Immoweb doesn’t want to lose its dominant position”. 

    A Trade Tribunal referral court will rule on the case on Wednesday.

    Sarah Johansson

    The Brussels Times