Surveys show that the majority of consumers believe that real estate agents are overpaid.
Does that mean individual agents are greedy? Not necessarily but it does mean that the prevailing two-sided commission is obsolete, and the amount of compensation that comes out of an individual transaction can be excessive in high cost markets. It’s a systemic problem, a form of systemic greed.
But some unscrupulous agents do exist, specifically those who put their financial self-interest ahead of yours or their legal obligations. In market niches where supply exceeds demand, the temptation is high now for listing agents — particularly luxury listing agents — to collect both sides of the commission from pocket listings, a.k.a. private inventory, whisper listings, quiet listings and a host of other code words for in-house sales.
Think insider trading.
How should you respond and how can you redirect the Double Dip to save money and achieve social good? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:
1. Get ahead of pocket listings by being proactive. If you do, you’ll also avoid the 10 hidden costs of reactive home buying. (link)
2. If a home is already in the MLS, work with an exclusive buyer agent. If you don’t, you’re leave money on the table, perhaps unintentionally, which gives the listing agent (one individual) or list agency (their brokerage) a double pay day.
3. The Real Estate Cafe and Consumer Advocates in American Real Estate / CAARE.org recommends working with a buyer agent who discounts or rebates part of their fee already built into the sales price of any MLS listing. See rebate calculator on the US Department of Justice website.
4. If you work with the Real Estate Cafe, we offer a variety of 100% commission rebate options and encourage our clients to donate a portion of their rebate to a non-profit organization. Think of it as a form of crowdfunding.
1. Never agree to let an agent talk you into dual agency.
3. Even if you think you know more than the smartest agent in town don’t go it alone. Demonstrate your intelligence by acting in your own financial interest: find a buyer agent who offers a rebate so you can rebate part of it forward.
SAVINGS GOAL: ONE YEAR OF COLLEGE TUITION
How much money can our clients save? Our goal is help each family save enough money over a lifetime to fund one year of college tuition. So far, one of our Harvard families has funded three years tuition, and an MIT family has funded two. To our delight, both families have donated thousand of dollars to non-profit organizations.
From our perspective, that’s a triple victory and we hope DIY homebuyers like you would like to learn more about how to use real estate rebates to: (1) reward yourself, (2) use some of your savings to crowdfund a cause, an artist or arts organization, or a start-up like those Presidential Challenge DEMOs we saw today at Harvard’s i-Lab, and (3) help reform the real estate compensation model.