“In some circumstances, we share your information with third parties not owned by or co-branded with Tomo Mortgage that benefit directly from our sharing your information with them.”
Tomo Mortgage may even sell consumers’ information to competing lenders:
“Third-party lenders. If Tomo Mortgage cannot finance your home, we may share your personal information with one of our partner lenders.”
Tomo further may attempt to sell consumers’ information to random home insurance companies:
“Home insurance agencies. If your real estate transaction is such that you may need homeowners insurance, we may share your information with homeowners insurance agencies and those agencies may reach out to you directly to offer you a quote.”
For real estate professionals, Tomo Brokerage promises a “no upfront costs” lead generation by scrubbing consumers’ information when they shop for their mortgage. Once a potential homebuyer is identified, a Tomo Brokerage initiates a transfer to the Partner Agent. Tomo Brokerage representatives give Partner Agents all the background information on the homebuyer to make the transition.
In other words, Tomo Brokerage is a consumer allocation scheme between licensed real estate brokers that scrubs consumer’s information and passes it along to a broker who is willing to pay for it with a cut of their commission. If a broker is unwilling to give a portion of their commission to Tomo Brokerage, the company has no interest in recommending them. Tomo Brokerage further takes no responsibility for any of the actions of the brokers that they allocate to consumers.
In effect, Tomo Brokerage is a self-serving scheme designed to funnel consumers toward brokers who pay them a hidden kickback at the close of consumers’ transactions. Consumers using Tomo Brokerage have zero control over what agents the company shares their information with. Instead of being scrubbed and sold as leads, consumers looking for a competitive and fair representation can consider negotiating directly with real estate agents, or with help from unbiased consumer-focused online services that do not collect kickbacks.
Tomo attempts to present this pay-to-play scheme differently:
"Tomo Brokerage only works with Partner Agents that meet its high standards of customer-centric service, and they have to be experts in the areas you want to live in. They help you hone in your search criteria, find great homes, negotiate a great deal, and navigate the entire process. They can also help you identify qualified professionals to put the finishing touches on your new home."
These claims are entirely false. Tomo Brokerage only works with brokers who pay them kickbacks. These agents engage in consumer allocation with Tomo Brokerage. The act of consumer allocation between licensed brokers is a prohibited practice in the United States, by the virtue of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Tomo Brokerage Partner Agents are unlikely to have consumers' best interests, and, because they have to pay a kickback, they do not earn their full commissions. In effect, these agents work for consumers half the time, and for Tomo, the other half.
Even considering the overall dishonesty, kickbacks, and legal implications of the scheme, a consumer can technically still use Tomo Mortgage and freely negotiate a competitive buyer refund elsewhere on the open market with any agent.
There are honest and competitive buyer agents who are willing to share a cut of their commissions with consumers, as a legitimate way to earn business, rather than paying hidden kickbacks to Tomo Brokerage. Tomo Mortgage does not require consumers to use Tomo Brokerage, but it instead dangles an interest rate discount (set at 0.125%) so that homebuyers think that there are savings available to them. Tomo Brokerage's hidden kickbacks cost consumers thousands in properly negotiated fees while funneling hidden fees back into the scheme itself. These hidden kickbacks, eventually, reside in consumers’ mortgages and collect interest.
Price Fixing with Tomo Perks
Broker compensation fees must never be fixed via agreements between two or more brokers anywhere in the United States. All commissions and rebates must be set by each real estate agent individually and may only be negotiable between the consumer and the real estate agent. Buyer agents never work for free.
Genuine quality and honest real estate professionals establish pricing for their services independently, and without any kickbacks. The truth is, every single agent is different, and every single agent has an individual commission structure. If an agent is unwilling to negotiate competitive buyer rebate terms in compliance with the law, there is no reason for homebuyers to assume that they will be willing to negotiate competitively when it comes to their home purchase.
In combination, Tomo Mortgage and Tomo Brokerage terms equate to price fixing rates of independent real estate professionals who do not work for either one of these entities. Price fixing between independent business entities is a felony everywhere in the United States.
Tomo Perks Terms and Conditions
Subject to the following terms and conditions, customers who buy a home with Tomo Mortgage and a Tomo Brokerage Partner Agent qualify for Tomo Perks, which lowers their mortgage interest rate by 0.125%:
Tomo Brokerage Partner Agent. The customer must be party to a fully executed home purchase contract that identifies a Tomo Brokerage Partner Agent as their real estate agent, and Tomo Brokerage must have a record of referring the customer to the Partner Agent.
Tomo. The customer must purchase the home referenced above using a mortgage loan from Tomo with a loan amount of at least $150,000.
Rate Lock. The Tomo Perks interest rate reduction will be applied when the customer locks in their interest rate.
Modification. Tomo may modify the terms of Tomo Perks, but when it does so they will be modified only for customers who entered into purchase contracts after the date the program terms were modified.
Tomo Brokerage is a broker-to-broker collusion scheme. All Partner Agents agree to pay Tomo Brokerage a pre-arranged referral fee, on all closed transactions, through their employing broker. A referral agreement between Tomo Brokerage and a Partner Agent for a random transaction that may or may not happen sometime in the future is executed in advance.
Tomo Brokerage engages in consumer and market allocation agreements with Partner Agents brokerages, because it is a broker itself. Instead of representing consumers to help buy and sell homes, this “paper” brokerage actively disengages from its licensed activities so that every Partner Agent knows that Tomo Brokerage, Inc. will not compete with them. Tomo Brokerage does not act in a real estate brokerage capacity, instead, their real estate license is used to collect a blanket referral fee from the largest number of brokers possible.
Sherman Antitrust Act effectively requires all active real estate brokers to proactively compete for consumers. An agreement or an understanding between brokers not to compete for a mutual benefit is a "per se" violation of antitrust regulations in the United States.
The amount of a referral fee between brokers must be negotiated with respect to an individual transaction. It is a per se violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for real estate brokers to agree on a “standard” referral fee that will be paid for producing a client. Real estate professionals are not allowed to enter into blanket referral agreements between one another because such agreements always restrict free trade.
Brokers are not allowed to organize their operations into any collusion schemes and networks, and instead, all brokers must compete for consumers on a fair playing field. Legitimate agents who choose NOT to engage in the Tomo Brokerage “no upfront costs” scheme are harmed as well because consumers are steered away from them in a highly competitive real estate market.
Kickbacks and Unearned Fees
RESPA, among other things, is designed to prohibit abusive practices such as kickbacks and referral fees between mortgage companies and real estate brokers.
The statutory exemption for a payment to a cooperative brokerage and referral arrangements between real estate agents and real estate brokers requires all agents to compete against one another. To comply in good faith with RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2607) Section 8 exception for cooperative brokerage and referral arrangements, legitimate real estate agents must render referral agreements in a particular instance for a particular transaction.
Actions of Tomo Brokerage “paper” brokerage directly increase the costs of owning homes in the United States due to added blanket referral fees, consumer allocation practices, price fixing, and reverse completion between brokers. Partner Agents in the scheme have no incentive to compete for consumers individually with lower fees, instead, they have an incentive to compete for Tomo Brokerage’ attention. In this scheme, both colluding parties benefit from offering consumers higher commissions. Tomo Brokerage promotes Partner Agents as somehow “superior” to those outside of the network, thus limiting free-market competitive forces and steering consumers in self-interest toward a network of very few agents who chose to agree to participate in the scheme.
Similar attempts to by-pass RESPA prohibition against kickbacks by means operating a paper brokerage in a combination with services of a mortgage broker are not new. Similar schemes include:
Blend and Blend Brokerage
Better.com and Better Real Estate
HomeStory and a number of third-party lenders
Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Homes
loanDepot and mellohome
Nationstar Mortgage (dba Mr. Cooper) and Xome
and possibly some others. CFPB is currently investigating at least one of these schemes, Rocket Homes, and consumers must exercise great care to protect themselves in the meantime. A real estate home purchase is one of the most important transactions and it must be free from hidden kickbacks and self-steering.
In the real world, Tomo Mortgage and Tomo Brokerage are a single company, both designed and built with massive VC capital to rake hidden fees, by-pass RESPA, collude with independent brokers for a cut of their commissions, and openly price-fix services of others.
The entire RESPA prohibition against kickbacks was enacted specifically to stop mortgage companies from entering into “symbiotic relationships” with real estate brokers. Tomo Brokerage may seem like a clever by-pass of RESPA’s prohibition against kickbacks, but this loophole is built entirely on the use of blanket referral agreements between brokers designed to restrain free trade.
As an active licensed brokerage, Tomo Brokerage owes absolutely no duty of care to consumers, takes no responsibility for the transaction, and does not help consumers to buy homes - all despite receiving a direct financial benefit from the home purchase completed by the homebuyer.