REX Urges Senate To Restore Competition, Remove Barriers For Consumers
REX and 40 pro-consumer tech allies call out anticompetitive actions by digital gatekeepers
REX and 40 pro-consumer tech innovators wrote Senate Judiciary Committee leaders expressing the need for the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992). REX, which combines breakthrough technology and exceptional people to create a fully-integrated home shopping or selling experience, is the only real estate company joining the effort to advocate more digital access and choice on behalf of consumers. The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider advancing the legislation on Thursday January 20. The letter can be viewed here.
“As it relates to most consumers’ biggest purchase, anticompetitive rules and self-preferencing are major barriers to the sort of real competition that would dramatically drive down the cost of homeownership. Due to NAR’s illegal mandatory commission rules, American consumers pay 2 to 3 times more than their European counterparts. And now, Zillow is cooperating with NAR to prevent consumers from seeing homes that do not require mandatory commissions.
With the price of homes skyrocketing and the crisis in minority and first-time homeownership, Congress must stand up for consumers over big brokers and digital gatekeepers,” said REX Co-Founder and CEO Jack Ryan.
Today’s letter points out that digital gatekeepers harm consumer choice by giving their own products and services preferential online placement.
“For example,” the letter states, “due to their gatekeeper status, dominant technology companies can: use manipulative design tactics to steer individuals away from rival services; restrict the ability of competitors to interoperate on the platform; use non-public data to benefit the companies’ own services or products; make it impossible or complicated for users to change their default settings or services or uninstall apps. These tactics not only harm competition, but also deprive consumers of the innovative offerings a vibrant market would yield.”
Along with REX, the letter is signed by a broad range of tech platforms and leaders, including venture investor Y Combinator, audio product developer Sonos, smart home device maker Wyze, ad-free search engine Neeva, online privacy company DuckDuckGo, Zynga founder and former CEO Mark Pincus, and the local search site Yelp, among dozens of others.
In December, REX joined another coalition of innovative, pro-consumer, tech companies in sending a letter to the U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging greater openness that would promote competition and consumer choice. Last week, REX participated in a meeting with senior administration officials regarding the current digital consumer ecosystem.
Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing also follows on last month’s Senate hearing on consumer protection, where real estate competition was a focal point. Former Department of Justice antitrust official Roger Alford testified during the December Senate hearing that “the residential real estate market is dominated by a consortium of real estate cooperatives that enforce a series of mandatory rules that keep prices high and reduce innovation.”
The significant legal and policy momentum, including Realogy CEO’s recent call to end mandatory commissions, suggests that the coming year will deliver critical changes in real estate. “Shopping for a home should be as transparent as booking a trip or selling a stock. With competition emerging as a prominent, bipartisan issue in 2022, REX will continue to be the leading voice advocating for long overdue real estate reforms that will deliver consumer choice, innovation, and mobility,” said Michael Toth, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for REX.