Real estate information for a specific US home address

Wendy Gilch, founder of Selling Later, offers one of the most interesting perspectives on deception taking place on the Internet in online real estate sector.

“While viewing properties on Opendoor (one of the biggest ibuyers in the United States), we noticed that homes sold directly by Opendoor (homes they purchased recently and relisted) left out sales history in their listing. Specifically, the sales history that included how much Opendoor paid for the home a month or two prior.”

The way consumers typically search for homes is on Google where companies compete for placement of real estate references against a specific address (such as the one mentioned in her article, located at 9330 Hampshire Park Dr Hampshire, Tampa, FL 33647) but what do these companies typically attribute to these web references?

The quality of this information says a lot about a specific real estate model.

Opendoor Brokerage, for example, hides recent home sale history information. This particular home was sold to Opendoor for $488,900 on November 12, 2021, now up for sale at $606,000, but the $488,900 figure is omitted from this listing (likely on purpose) so that the new buyer doesn’t see this massive price difference.

Opendoor Brokerage, further, price fixes rebates for “Opendoor Partner Agents” (random third-party brokerages) at 1% (or $6,060 in this case,) so that it can collect a massive kickback from the transaction. Price fixing is a felony in the United States.

On the open market, for example, for that same home, a home buyer can receive up to $9,163 commission refund according to my platform if the home is purchased for $610,900

In summary, Opendoor Brokerage listings hide information from buyers about past sales history in order to deceive them, the company blatantly violates Sherman Antitrust Act, RESPA, FTC Act, and a number of other fair advertising regulations when it price fixes services of its direct competitors via the Internet.

This is commonly referred to as wire fraud.

#realestate #advertising #antitrust

Is it possible to build a better Uber?

From FTC/DOJ December Workshop December 7, 2021

Marshall Steinbaum:

Sure. Yes. I was delighted to have John bring up the subject of gas stations, because they’re one of my favorite things to talk about in antitrust, and in particular, the case US Richfield oil from 1951, which concerns the resale price maintenance and exclusive dealing of contracts that a dominant oil refinery imposed on gas stations.

Marshall Steinbaum:

And in the ruling on that case, the judge said very explicitly, these gas station proprietors are not employees. They are independent business men, in the lingo of that era, and therefore they have the right to operate independently of these coercive contracts employed by the dominant oil refiner. That exact jurisprudence is at the heart of… Or I should say there be a repealing, the overturning of that jurisprudence is at the heart of the gig economy. And also explains why… The example that John was mentioning where you have two gas stations on opposite corners agreeing to fix prices, that’s illegal.

Marshall Steinbaum:

They decide to merge, or maybe we do catch that under our merger review process, but they just both decide to affiliate with the same oil refiner, and fixed prices that way. Almost no question. They’re not going to be targeted by existing antitrust law, and that goes very strongly in the case of the gig economy as well. You have a business model that depends almost entirely on the vertical restraints that a dominant platform imposes on supposedly independent contractors operating on their platform that are engaging in bilateral commerce with customers to which the platform’s not a party. Oh, but the platform actually sets prices for that commerce. And it does so in such a way that the drivers not employ steering methods in order to direct customers to platforms that take a lower share of what they pay by charging lower prices.

Marshall Steinbaum:

So in the… But [for a] world, Uber drivers or any drivers for any ride share platform, would be able to set lower prices on platforms that have a lower take rate, and thus enhance platform competition in the ride share market. Recently, there was an antitrust claim by a sidecar former competitor of Uber that entered the market in California, and their business strategy was basically to offer better terms to drivers.

Marshall Steinbaum:

Uber drove them out of the market using predatory pricing, using tortious interference, they submitted all sorts of fraudulent ride requests to the platform in order to prevent sidecar from servicing their customers. That succeeded, that strategy by… That monopolization strategy by Uber succeeded in gaining control of the market. The motion, or the antitrust claim by sidecar, survived the motion to dismiss, and now that case has been settled, but that speaks to the counterfactual of healthy platform competition, and the degree to which the vertical restraints that have been immunized from antitrust liability by the current antitrust regime are behind that absence of platform competition.

Marshall Steinbaum:

So, as I said, direct price fixing, I mean, John himself said, the Supreme evil basically at antitrust is price fixing well, [richer] companies do it all the time. That also pertains to non-linear bonus based pay. So these are basically incentives for the drivers to accept as many rides as possible from a given platform. And then they get a lump sum, but that reduces their labor supply elasticity, this would be the platform on any one ride that can push down, pay and force them to accept rides that are less advantageous to them.

Marshall Steinbaum:

There’s minimum acceptance rates. So all of what I’m saying is basically the sort of propaganda that you hear from gig economy labor platforms is, ‘Oh, the drivers love flexibility. So they shouldn’t be employees.’ Well, the platforms do not provide flexibility. What they provide is control in the absence of fulfilling their obligations as employers, I should also mention, I was very glad to hear Chair Khan on her opening remarks yesterday, refer to UDAP claims unfair and deceptive acts and practices as potentials, having got competitive significance.

Marshall Steinbaum:

And she referred to the gig economy where, as we’ve seen over and over again, including in the sidecar example, I previously referred to, you’ve got a deception and unfair practices used to monopolize a market. And then you just basically sit back and cash out. And so those UDAP claims essentially are components of the monopolization of the market. That’s also the case. I mean, even on going now in the gig economy, again to speak to this actual absence of flexibility and autonomy on the part of drivers.

Marshall Steinbaum:

They don’t get told the destinations of the ride before they accept them. They don’t get told the fair they’re going to be paid before they accept or reject them. The premise of the idea that the drivers are correctly classified as independent contract, is that they have the autonomy to accept or reject the rides that are offered to them on the platform. And that is just functionally, not the case in practice.

Marshall Steinbaum:

So in summary, I would say that a crucial component of closing the sort of gray area that writes a broad boundary of the firm when it comes to antitrust through the use of vertical restraints, versus a narrow drawing of firm boundaries when it comes to labor law and obligations, as well as sectoral regulation. That gray area of basically the absence of any part source of liability from all of these areas of law is what enables the gig economy to exist. And a crucial component of improving the livelihood of workers within the gig economy is to close down that gray area. And that should be an enforcement priority of the federal agencies and particular, the agencies that have experienced litigating the Sherman act to partly address of gig economy work, and its substandard aspects.

The short answer is no. The only way to compete with Uber is to offer an alternative price-fixing platform, such as Lyft, or DoorDash. In order to build a better Uber, the Uber itself must first cease to exist. A platform, such as Sidecar, will likely settle with Uber when pressing claims for damages subject to Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and unfair advertising claims.

It is the job of the government (US-DOJ and US-FTC) to prosecute Uber on price fixing charges, where the price-fixing scheme is simply unable to pay off the Plaintiff.

An ability for a startup to break the status quo

“If you have somebody who’s faster than you are, you have to trap him somehow so that he can’t use his superiority, whatever it is.”

Some of the more interesting #startups are able to create new tactical formations to solve big problems against superior incumbents.

At the onset of WWII aerial combat, a V-formation was a “standard” flying principle where a leader was surrounded by two inexperienced pilots on either side. This, in theory, works to protect the leader from an attack from both sides, but in practice makes for a cumbersome balance — two inexperienced pilots flying behind one seasoned.

On the other hand, two-by-two formation allows for two experienced pilots to lead two inexperienced; it is largely superior.

“For years the formation we flew with, three-plane sections, a leader and two wingmen, irked me. If you’re going to fight and do radical turns, this was an unwieldy formation. It was obvious that if we were going to be able to do something sudden to fool an enemy, we ought to throw away one of those planes and just have a two-plane section, which is what I did. At that time, everybody was flying three-plane sections, both in our country and Europe.”

An ability for a startup to break the status quo does not necessarily mean having superior equipment, but it does require one to build innovative defensible tactics and to scale them against a problem one is looking to solve within their market.

An ability to build a superior tactical formation within any TAM and say: “You attack from any direction you want.” That’s the beauty of building #startups that can later be transformed into defensible enterprises, rather than #gigeconomy enterprises, or #crypto schemes, such as Uber and Coinbase, that seek to profit from breaking one federal law or another.

Schema definition of “priceRange”

The Schema definition of “priceRange” is “the average price of products or services this business offers” where the value must be expressed as text.

One of the main benefits of running a transparent media company is an ability to comply with Schema standards for pretty much any type of content before it is published. I often refer to this as the basis for correct information — if it can be defined in accordance with Schema correctly, chances are the information is correct, and valuable in some way.

This is the primary basis for reliable and unbiased information published in the Residential Real Estate Directory (RRED)

This is what one would typically include as “priceRange” for a Review, such as a Restaurant, or a Book Store:

$ = inexpensive
$$ = moderate
$$$ = expensive
$$$$ = very expensive
$$$$$ = if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it

I don’t like these references for Real Estate Companies for three reasons. (1) pricing for services is often variable (2) each service often proposes a value (or lack of) beyond simply pricing (3) some services operate by means of hidden fees and kickbacks, making the $ to $$$$$ system unreliable.

I am currently looking for feedback form the real estate sector community and consumer advocates to implement a higher level system that focuses on the type of fees, rather than the $ amounts. This is what I have been able to compile thus far:

“priceRange”:”Savings”
“priceRange”:”Kickbacks”
“priceRange”:”Cash Offers”
“priceRange”:”Flat Fees”
“priceRange”:”Set Fees”
“priceRange”:”Mixed Fees”

Where the following list of companies offer:

Door.com — Flat Fees
Flyhomes — Savings
Home Bay — Flat Fees
Homie — Flat Fees
Jovio — Flat Fees
Prevu — Savings
Savvy Lane — Flat Fees
SimpleShowing — Flat Fees
TRELORA — Flat Fees
Yoreevo — Savings
Faira — Flat Fees
Houwzer — Flat Fees
Redefy — Flat Fees
Ribbon — Set Fees
Surefield — Savings
Unlocked Real Estate — Savings
Aalto — Savings
Landis — Set Fees
Open Listings — Mixed Fees
Reali — Savings
Redfin — Mixed Fees
REX Real Estate — Savings
Torii Homes — Mixed Fees
Enkasa Homes — Mixed Fees
HomeLight — Kickbacks
HomeVestors — Cash Offers
Landed — Kickbacks
Offerpad — Cash Offers
OJO Labs — Kickbacks
Opendoor — Cash Offers
Orchard — Mixed Fees
RedfinNow — Cash Offers
Sold.com — Kickbacks
Trulia — Mixed Fees
Xome — Kickbacks
Zillow — Mixed Fees
Better.com Real Estate — Kickbacks
Blend Realty — Kickbacks
Clever Real Estate — Kickbacks
LemonBrew — Kickbacks
mellohome — Kickbacks
NAEBA — Kickbacks
Nobul — Kickbacks
Opendoor Brokerage — Kickbacks
Realtor.com ReadyConnect (Opcity) — Kickbacks
Rocket Homes — Kickbacks
Tomo — Kickbacks
Transactly — Mixed Fees
UpNest — Kickbacks
Zillow Flex Program — Kickbacks
Zillow Offers — Cash Offers

(1) Would this make sense to an average consumer?

(2) Any way to expand/improve these categories?

#realestate #schema

Coinbase, flat out, engages in wire fraud

“Alesia Haas said her firm believes that blockchain tokens are not securities but rather digital property or a way to record ownership.”

It is a violation of federal law for individuals, or organizations to create private coin or currency systems to compete with the official coinage and currency of the United States.

Sorry, Alesia, your form, Coinbase, flat out, engages in wire fraud.

All alternative currency systems are illegal to operate in the United States, nothing will change this. Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution delegates to US Congress the power to coin money and to regulate the value thereof.

If #bitcoin tokens were merely equivalent to digital property, we wouldn’t be having a hearing about it at the United States Capitol.

#Bitcoin is a pirate currency, it cannot possibly be regulated, or become legally compliant with the US law.

#digitalcurrency #alternativecurrency #coinageact

Cryptocurrency Ban: Workable and Wise

Kristin Smith “Open blockchain networks run on open-source software, meaning the government couldn’t enforce a ban on digital assets without shutting down the entire internet.”

False. The United States Congress has the power and means to enforce the ban on all alternative currencies.

(1) The “Power” element. Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution delegates to Congress the power to coin money and to regulate the value thereof. This power was delegated to Congress to establish and preserve a uniform standard of value and to insure a singular monetary system for all purchases and debts in the United States, public and private. Along with the power to coin money, the United States Congress has the concurrent power to restrain the circulation of money which is not issued under its authority to protect and preserve the constitutional currency for the benefit of all citizens of the nation. It is a violation of federal law for individuals, or organizations to create private coin or currency systems to compete with the official coinage and currency of the United States.

(2) The “Means” element. Cryptocurrency exchanges are an integral part of the alternative currency systems, such as #Bitcoin. Crypto exchanges registered in the United States, therefore, operate in a violation of the federal law. Crypto exchanges do have real owners, are real established corporate entities (ex. Coinbase operates under the Coinbase Global, Inc. registered in a State of Delaware) and do have rights and obligations (as Corporations or individuals) to abide by the federal law and are within the jurisdictions of all federal courts in the United States. A Criminal Summons can be served onto Coinbase entity and its founders Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at any time.

Banning the crypto exchanges worldwide is at a different level, that, at least, requires 194 member countries to empower ICPO-INTERPOL with a mandate to shut down exchanges operating within their jurisdictions.

The United States law is workable and wise, it is, certainly, not up for a debate. Any efforts to undermine the legitimate currency of the United States via the Internet are a form of domestic terrorism, wire fraud, and counterfeiting.

#cryptocurrency #currency

David McLaughlin vs HomeLight

David McLaughlin vs HomeLight is an interesting legal action, for some reason, was incorrectly filed under the 15 U.S.C. § 1125 (Lanham Act claim for false advertising.) I randomly stumbled on this case recently, doing my research.

This case was correctly dismissed because the damages under the Lanham Act are not a substitute for damages under the Sherman Act.

Today, every honest #Realtor in the US, legitimate #marketplaces, and #consumers hold claims, valued in tens of billions USD, against every single “shell” entity that operates by means of broker-to-broker collusion.

HomeLight is just the tip of the iceberg.

These claims must be filed under a different law, however:
15 U.S.C. §1 — Trusts, etc., in restraint of trade illegal;
12 U.S.C. §2607 — Prohibition against kickbacks and unearned fees;
12 C.F.R. §1024.14 — Prohibition against kickbacks and unearned fees;
Business and Professions Code §17200 et seq.
15 U.S.C. §45 — Unfair methods of competition unlawful.

etc.

HomeLight is one of the largest broker-to-broker collusion scams in the modern history of real estate, conducted across all 50 states and Washington, DC with the use of the Internet. Wire fraud is a federal crime that involves any scheme to defraud another person or party by means of electronic communication. This scam is taking place in the middle of the housing affordability crisis and it deprives consumers of tens of thousands in properly negotiated commissions on each home sale or a home purchase conducted via HomeLight “shell” brokerage. In the HomeLight scam, tens of thousands of Realtors no longer compete for consumers with savings, instead, they compete for HomeLight’s “black box” placement with tens of thousands in pre-negotiated kickbacks on a “blanket” agreement basis.

#antitrust #realestate #kickbacks #collusion #proptech #advertisinglaw #LanhamAct #UCL #ShermanAct #FTCAct U.S. Department of Justice Federal Trade Commission Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Every media company is in competition with Google

Every media company is in competition with Google. One shouldn’t be selling anything through their competitors, to begin with.

“Advertisers that choose this platform do so because it makes the process of buying digital advertising easy and effective,” says Sissie Hsiao

No, advertisers choose this platform because it is easier for a media service to collude with Google than to build a competing advertising platform. All agreements to restrain free trade have very dull and common reasons behind them — low standards, slow growth, playing it safe, excuses, etc.

Media services can (and are wise to) buy some technology from Google, such as the services offered by Google Cloud, but we cannot become vassals to the Big Five when it comes to our revenue.

#antitrust #ecommerce #bigtech #onlineadvertising #politicsandlaw #freespeech #digitaladvertising

UpCounsel crowdfunding campaign

Talk about ignorance. KJ Erickson clearly violates SEC crowdfunding rules on LinkedIn that prevent companies that seek crowdfunding to advertise “deal terms” (such as the raise amount, the security details, the price of the security, the closing date of the campaign, etc.) on social media.

The thing that strike me, is that she, apparently, in charge of a “legal services” marketplace 🤭

I am not an attorney and have never done crowdfunding, but this post clearly violates the rules outlined by the JOBS Act and … constitutes securities fraud…

KJ Erickson’s post reads:

“5 months ago, UpCounsel launched its equity crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder. Since then, we’ve raised over $3.5M on-platform from more than 1,600 investors, making it one of the largest Reg CF campaigns in history. In that same time, we’ve grown the revenue run rate by 42% and traffic to almost 2 million users a month.

This evening, we close our campaign for good! After a career that’s involved more capital raising than I might have preferred, this crowdfund has given me a whole new passion for fundraising. It’s made me think about the future of alternative models for equity distribution, and made me a super believer in the value of having your users as your shareholders. And while I’d be the last one to ever promise that an investment is a good one, I can say with certainty that I’m incredibly excited about how many things are lining up for UpCounsel. Giving this company a new birth — from when it announced shutdown last spring to the profitable growth it’s experiencing now — has been an absolute joy. Getting to do it alongside such an incredible team including Paul Drobot Danny Page Xavier Helgesen and Sieva Kozinsky has been even better. I didn’t know I could have this much fun working on a company that I didn’t start, but I feel very lucky that I got to find out.

So for those of you that already invested — thank you. For those of you that have been thinking about an investment, you’ve got until 8pm pacific tonight. I’ll post the link to our WeFunder page in the comments. Regardless, and perhaps more importantly — please think of us when you hear about a founder or friend who needs a good lawyer. Chances are that you’ll save that person 60%+ over them turning to Big Law. This campaign was successful because of the thousands of happy clients that UpCounsel has served over the years. We’re hoping to take that number into the millions over the next decade.

Also PS — equity crowdfunding is awesome. If you’re a founder considering a crowdfund raise, I’m happy to talk and tell you everything we learned. Hit me up anytime.”

I could care less about UpCounsel or how this round runs, this post is about quality of information and leadership. Maybe have someone with better legal expertise run your legal services marketplace?

There are only two types of communications permitted on social media for companies that seek funds subject to the JOBS Act:

(1) Posts that don’t mention the “terms of the offering”

and

(2) Posts that just contain “tombstone” information.

P.S. — KJ Erickson blatantly refused to remove her unlawful posting, prompting myself to report it to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission under a Submission Number: 16390–762–883–748 on Thursday, December 09, 2021.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission #securitieslaw #securities #crowdfunding #legalservices

Open competition is an inconvenience

An interesting take on why U.S. Department of Justice and European Commission have been willing to charge #gigplatforms such as Uber, DoorDash, and Lyft with price fixing — open competition is an inconvenience.

There is some dark truth to this argument, where neither consumers nor the government truly care about the fact that Uber et al. engage in hardcore “dynamic price fixing” for services of third-party gig workers. (Uber, as an entity, does not offer transportation or delivery services to anyone.)

The reason being, a hub-and-spoke conspiracy offers “apparent” pricing below what can be sustained in a competitive market. By shifting the hard costs of operations against the spokes, a network of #gigworkers, a hub platform is able to rig “low” pricing despite the uncompetitive take take.

Eventually, this “wild west” approach to #antitrust enforcement destroys the economic well-being of everyone else (including the tax payers who have been footing the unemployment insurance tax bill for the entire gig economy sector) and keeps Dara Khosrowshahi Logan Green and Tony Xu out of federal prison for no good reason.

At some point, a violation of the Sherman Act is a felony punishable by, for corporations, a fine of up to $100 million, and for individuals, a fine of up to $1 million or 10 years’ imprisonment (or both). Under some circumstances, the maximum potential fine may be increased above the Sherman Act maximums to twice the gain or loss involved.

Further, #gigplatforms utilize Internet to transmit price fixing, thereby violating federal/state #wirefraud and false statements statutes.

The damages here are off the rails, and will, eventually, be imposed in order to address the problem of collusion in e-commerce. This problem will continue to chase Uber until it is forced to file for bankruptcy and restructure the algorithm to either hire the gig workers as employees, or to allow all gig workers a full control of all price setting activities on their platform in competition with one another.