Opendoor Tricked Homeowners, FTC Charges

Opendoor Tricked Homeowners, FTC Charges

Does it make sense that you could make more money selling your home to a middleman than through the usual process of hiring a Realtor and selling directly to a buyer? Many homeowners thought so and sold their homes to Opendoor Labs Inc., thinking they would come out ahead of the game.

But the Federal Trade Commission says they were fooled, and today took action against Opendoor Labs Inc., charging that the online firm cheated potential home sellers.

“Opendoor promised to revolutionize the real estate market but built its business using old-fashioned deception about how much consumers could earn from selling their homes on the platform,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “There is nothing innovative about cheating consumers.”

The FTC alleged that Opendoor pitched potential sellers using misleading and deceptive information, and in reality, most people who sold to Opendoor made thousands of dollars less than they would have made selling their homes using the traditional process.

Under a proposed settlement, Opendoor will have to pay $62 million and stop its deceptive tactics.

It’s called an “iBuyer”

Opendoor, headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, calls itself an “iBuyer.” It claimed to use cutting-edge technology to save consumers money by providing “market-value” offers and reducing transaction costs compared with the traditional home sales process.

Opendoor’s marketing materials included charts comparing their consumers’ net proceeds from selling to Opendoor versus on the market. Those charts almost always showed that consumers would make thousands of dollars more by selling to Opendoor.

In fact, the complaint states, the vast majority of consumers who sold to Opendoor actually lost thousands of dollars compared with selling on the traditional market, because the company’s offers have been below market value on average and its costs have been higher than what consumers typically pay when using a traditional realtor.

Enforcement action

Opendoor has agreed to a proposed order that requires the company to:

  • Pay $62 million: The order requires Opendoor to pay the Commission $62 million, which is expected to be used for consumer redress.
  • Stop deceiving potential home sellers: The order prohibits Opendoor from making the deceptive, false, and unsubstantiated claims it made to consumers about how much money they will receive or the costs they will have to pay to use its service.
  • Stop making baseless claims: The order requires Opendoor to have competent and reliable evidence to support any representations made about the costs, savings, or financial benefits associated with using its service, and any claims about the costs associated with traditional home sales.