The Man Behind the RealPage Lawsuit

When you become an editor of a publication, you get lots of unsolicited emails for possible article ideas. Most of these are blatantly self-serving and, thus, at least in my case, get promptly ignored. But at the end of 2020, I received a pitch that was so compelling I had to follow up. The email was from James Nelson about a new book he had just written called “Stealing Home: How Artificial Intelligence Is Hijacking the American Dream.” The book’s theme was simple: the pricing software that large property firms use pushes up rental prices in certain markets.

At first, I thought this idea was a bit far-fetched. Sure, the software is powerful, but it can’t change supply and demand economics. Then I asked around and talked to some of my sources, and I heard similar disbelief. The consensus was that not a large enough percentage of the market uses any one software enough for it to make a substantial impact on prices. I went on to interview Mr. Nelson to hear him out and wrote an article with what I now admit was a somewhat dismissive title of One Man’s Quest To Label Real Estate Data Companies as Cartels.

Imagine my surprise when I saw in the news that the very company Mr. Nelson had called out in his book, RealPage, was being sued by a group of renters for non-competitive practices associated with its software pricing tool YieldStar. Some of the markets being used as proof of this unfair data

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