Our first report today explains legal action being taken concerning the U.S. real estate industry. That’s followed by an examination of what exactly robocalls are — and what the U.S. government is considering that could limit them. And we’re taking a look at the impact of space exploration on American culture.
CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN 10. I`m Carl Azuz. I`ll be your host for the next 10 minutes of news. The first story we`re explaining this Thursday involves lawsuits that could lead to changes in the U.S. real estate industry and it`s significant because that industry is very important to the U.S. economy. Here`s what`s happening. Several lawsuits have been filed in the United States. The suits accuse the National Association of Realtors, America`s largest trade association, of illegally conspiring with other companies to keep fees higher than they should be when homes are bought and sold. The fees being debated are the commissions, the percentage of a home`s sale price that realtors get. For decades they`ve been hovering around 6 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes time to find a new home, 87 percent of buyers will enlist the help of a real estate agent. That agent might search for listings or service a go between for negotiations and draw up the sale contract. Ultimately, that agent will probably get about 3 percent of the sale price of the house. For a $500,000 house, that`s $15,000 and the sellers agent will get another 3 percent. So this is the question. Would you pay that much money to real estate agents if you knew you had a choice? That question is at the heart of a class action lawsuit that`s challenging the very basis on which the realtor profession rests, 6 percent commission.
Today, 50 percent of buyers find a new home online themselves but they may still use agents to close the deal. The lawsuit alleges that the National Association of Realtors with its 1.3 million members have colluded to keep commissions high by using something called the multiple listing service.
The multiple listing service is like the original Zillow. It was born more than 100 years ago when local boards of real estate agents decided to file their listings to a central location and restrict access to licensed agents. Controlling all of that information meant they could charge high fees for their services.
Eventually in 1950, the Supreme Court ruled the realtors had engaged in an illegal price fixing conspiracy. After that, realtors associations were careful not to make official rules about what commissions had to be but by then the 6 percent commission was common place and it hasn`t changed much since.
AZUZ: So what does that 6 percent buy? Expertise. A buyer`s agent can help shoppers find the right house, negotiate its price, and help with all the complexities of the home buying process. A listing agent can help sellers get the home on the multiple listing service so others can see it and negotiate the best price for the seller. But something has changed in recent years, more Americans are going online to do some of the leg work in finding a home they like. Some argue that because that could mean less work for real estate agents, those agents should receive smaller commissions than they have in decades past resulting in less money and fees for buyers and sellers and more left in their pockets.
Agents argue that without their guidance, Americans can make worse decisions when buying and selling and wind up paying in other ways down the road. It`s not only the real estate industry that`s been effected in the information age. Take the travel industry. With more people going to websites to book trips online, fewer are using travel agents and the number of travel agencies in America has shrunk by almost 50 percent since the year 2000. We don`t know yet if the new real estate lawsuits could lead to reduced fees in that industry and make it less desirable for realtors to work in but that`s why these cases are being so closely watched around the country.
10 Second Trivia. In 1934, the Federal Communications Commission replaced what organization? Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, American Telegraph Company, Federal Radio Commission or Pony Express. It was the Federal Radio Commission which had become outdated that the FCC replaced.
Today the independent U.S. government agency makes rules for all forms of mass communication and its considering a new plan that could reduce the amount of robocalls people get. If its approved, it would take effect later this year and what the new rule would do is allow telecommunication companies to automatically block certain robocalls from reaching your phone. Part of the reason why they haven`t all done this yet is because they`ve had concerns about whether it would be legal . This FCC rule would officially say it is. Not all robocalls are fake or illegal. A dentist may use one to remind you of an appointment. A pharmacy may use one to say a prescription`s ready. It`s the unwanted robocalls. The spam or scam ones that companies would be trying to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2018, more than 47.8 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. It`s estimated that nearly half of all calls made to U.S. cell phones will be spam in 2019. So how do these calls actually work? To make the call, a phone isn`t actually being used a computer is. Robocalls are made using what`s called voice over internet protocol or VOIP for short. It`s the same technology used in popular apps like Facetime and Skype and it`s important because no international phone bill means robocalls are incredibly cheap and easy to make. And while the computer generates a random number to call, its also generating a false number to show up on your caller ID disguising its identity. A process called spoofing and with neighbor spoofing the number on your caller ID is meant to look almost identical to yours to increase the likelihood that you pick up.
But if you call that number back, the local pizza shop might answer instead because these computers are often spoofing with real phone numbers. Now according to the FCC, your best bet is to not answer calls from unknown numbers in the first place. Since answering a robocall lets the computer know you might engage, in that case get ready for even more robocalls now that you`re on the hot list. You`ll also be prompted to connect with an actual person who will either try to sell you a product or worse yet trick you into a scam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To inform you the IRS is filing lawsuit against you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now in the United States, the majority of these calls are illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act but because robocalls can originate from anywhere in the world, it`s extremely difficult to enforce the law though heavy fines have been slapped on robocallers in the past. In the meantime, phone companies are working on systems that more effectively identify and block illegal robocalls. But for now, robocallers will likely keep on calling you.
AZUZ: We have a bit of a space oddesey for 10 out of 10 today. People have always had a fascination with the sky but ever since humans went from only looking up to actually going up, the impact has gone well beyond science. It`s effected our culture. So get ready to blast off on a retrospective of space and its influences on society.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For decades space has been the ultimate source material.
ELTON JOHN: “Rocket man”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From music – –
DAVID BOWIE: “Ground control to Major Tom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – – to science fiction – –
SPOCK: “Live long and prosper. Images Serack (ph)” UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – – to video games. But with the advent of NASA`s man in space programs in the late 1950s` came unmistakably space inspired architecture, pop culture and trends.
THE JETSONS: “Meet George Jetson”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the astronauts do some things you do. In space they drink Tang.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After Astronaut John Glenn drank it in orbit, the powdered orange drink was launched into the public`s consciousness despite it having been on grocery shelves for three years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tastes great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The space age fashion trend of the 60s` were popularized by designers like Andre Courreges and Paco Rabanne. Rabanne memorably designing the costumes for the 1968 cult film “Barbarella” starring Jane Fonda. Then there were the missions themselves, dramatized into best sellers and onto the big screen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The eagle has landed. This is Houston, say again please. Houston we have a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the real life pictures of the Apollo astronauts inspired some of the most iconic cultural images that endure to this day.
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: “To infinity and beyond”.
AZUZ: It makes sense that any time a rocket man or woman steps into a pair of moon boots and “Jetsons” off to a galaxy far, far away it would be “The Right Stuff” to “Barbarellavate” the imagine “Apollover the place”. Generating the kind of “Buzz that goes Lightyears” “beyondrramada” the known atlas and making something “Oddity” or “Alien” right down to earth. I`m Carl Azuz, making space for puns on CNN 10.