Tag Archives: rebagents

Why finding a Real Estate Agent or Realtor should be the last step in your home search checklist

Very informative article as a first time home buyer from Real Estate Rebate and Commssion Refund networking site at rebagents.com/blog.

We spend our time online at various discount and frugal spending sites like www.rebagents.com, lessthan6percent.com, slickdeals.net, fatwallet.com and others. We reached out to one of our favorite sites and he thought his readers would benefit from our breakdown of the current real estate transaction process. When someone is in the market to buy, their first instinct is to reach out to a real estate agent, when in actuality, it should be the last thing on your checklist. A more detailed task list will be provided below, but the first thing you should do is get educated on the process and decide what will work best given your current situation. If you’re the type that will let an extraneous third party with no skin in the game, yet all the upside, determine where to park your hefty down payment and potentially raise your family, this article is not for you.

Why finding a real estate agent should be the last item on your task list.
  1. The first step is to gather your financials and reach out to a direct lender (credit union, bank, mortgage broker, etc) to get a firm, realistic grasp on what you can afford. This will set the upper limit of your price spectrum.
  2. Research and identify properties online via the MLS directly or via platforms like Trulia.com, Redfin.com, or Zillow.com as they all pull data from your local MLS. There will be a bazillion (give or take) Realtors wanting to help you with your search, but just focus on the properties themselves and the data
  3. Attend publicized open houses and “brokers’ opens” which are basically just an additional an open house either before or after the weekend open. Get an idea of what you like in terms of style, location, size and price as nobody knows this better than yourself.
  4. *Always disclose that you are working with a Realtor/Real Estate agent when engaging with any other agent, even if you have not decided upon one* This is to protect you from being represented by an agent who happens to be at the property in a dual agency and protect any commission rebate savings.
  5. Now that you have your finances squared away, have received a lender pre-approval and have a good sense of the areas and types of properties you’re interested in, you’re now in a very strong position to maximize your commission rebate incentives from a prospective Realtor. Buyers often overlook the additional closings costs and fees associated with purchasing and these amounts can definitely add up.

Let’s take a breather, but have you noticed you haven’t yet needed a Real Estate Agent as of yet?

That’s because you’re fully capable of accessing the abundance of data online your own. By taking the time to determine your own likes and dislikes, you’ve also effectively saved your future Real Estate agent a great deal of time/resources which will be of great important later when you’re ready to actually put in an offer. Let’s continue.

Real Estate Agent Commissions and Your Rebate

In a traditional sales listing, a seller will enlist the help of a Real Estate agent to help market and ultimately sell their home. The seller will also offer a 2.5% commission to the selling agent (or a buyer’s agent who procures a buyer). The table below illustrates how much a real estate agent representing a buyer stands to make at each price point.

Purchase Price % Agent Commission Your Rebate Amount
$300K 2.5% $7500 ?
$500k 2.5% $12500 ?
$700K 2.5% $17500 ?

Your goal as a buyer is to maximize the “?” in the table above and you’ll be in the best position to do so by minimizing the time/resources expended by a Realtor up until the time of offer submission. For example, a Realtor will be more likely to issue a greater commission rebate, if you’ve already identified the property and all the Realtor has to do is prepare the offer (which should all be done electronically via email).

Realtors want to maximize their ROI and by allowing them to focus only on the purchase transaction (eliminating lead generation, prospecting and time consuming showings), they will be more likely to offer such an incentive as opposed to a Realtor who has spent time driving clients around, combing through properties that clients may or may not like, etc.

How do I choose between the various “discount or rebating” Realtors?

The are very few barriers to entry to becoming a real estate agent and thus there is an abundance of Realtors trying to capture the market. Many have opted for the discount model, outwardly advertising commission rebates and representing buyers for just 1%. Keep in mind that this practice has been around for quite some time, but just has not been as proactively marketed. The name of the game is volume and in order for a discount agent to survive, they need to ramp up transactions and closings. Be also wary of a number of rebate or discount firms who advertise representation for just 1%, but actually have minimum commissions that they need to make.

For example, one firm will advertise that they will do a deal for just 1% of the purchase price, effectively advertising a rebate of 1.5% of the purchase price (based on a 2.5% commission – varies). However, in their fine print, it will show that their firm needs to make a minimum $5000 commission. On a $250,000 property ($6,250 potential commission), that only yields a rebate of $1,250 instead of the immediately enticing $3,750 when factoring in that $5000 minimum.

Remember, everything in Real Estate is negotiable, including commissions and rebate amounts

Most consumers don’t know this and they adhere to the “customary” figures. No, it’s your money and your buying power. You hold the leverage and can dictate the terms because there will be another real estate agent in line in case you can’t come to terms. By thinking of this as a “transaction,” you’ll have a better gauge of value maximization.

To conclude, our position is not that real estate agents offer little value in a transaction. Many agents will argue that they offer exceptional customer service and tremendous expertise. Our premise is that as a consumer who has done the majority of the leg work and simply needs a transacting party to handle from there, why wouldn’t you want to be rewarded in some form, especially if you have eliminated the most time consuming aspects of a “real estate transaction.”

That’s all for now and hope that offered some insight. Have any questions? Send us a note as we’d be happy to hear from you. We also love hearing about how much of a rebate you were able to receive.

Post your request for rebating Realtors in your area

We’ve received a number of emails on our main site asking for referrals of rebating realtors in their region. Let us know where you’re looking and what type of rebate you’re hoping to receive and we’ll see what we can do.

Happy home hunting as we leave winter and enter into the spring buying season. Good luck and negotiate well!

Where to find good real estate agents and lenders?

This topic comes up often and many often turn to sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or through personal referrals. The answer is all of the above and interview/negotiate with everyone. The advertised rebating realtor may not be able match the savings incentives from a competing “traditionally advertised” realtor. As with any industry, service is key and the more overhead the less likely there will be room for movement. Reach out to qualified, smaller scale, independent realtors and you’ll likely see more savings incentives.

The same goes for lenders as the bigger the name, oftentimes the bigger the hassle.

Ready for the Spring and Summer Buying Season?

As we near the end of February, buyers and sellers are clamoring to finalize their taxes, update their lender pre-approvals and researching school data in preparation for their search. Have you updated your financials to accurately assess whether buying a home makes sense for you?

Many buyers lose sight of the fact that while there is a quality of life aspect to your purchase, it ultimately comes down to a numbers game. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and make sure the return rates make sense for you.

“A small nut (overhead), equals a big life.”

Happy Hunting buyers!

Utilizing your buyer’s inspection period

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We’ve received a lot of questions regarding leverage once your offer has been accepted. The truth is, you’ll want to prepare in advance for your buyer’s inspection period. Hopefully, prior to submitting your offer, you’ve touched base with your preferred home inspector, termite inspector and contractor regarding their availability. In your offer, your realtor should have built in a inspection contingency period (which ranges by region) which is customarily 10 days in the Los Angeles area. Of course you can lower that number to make your offer more appealing but that’s a different topic to be discussed later.

Now that your offer has been accepted, it’s to your advantage to schedule all of your vendors to perform their services as early as possible into the contingency period. This buyer beware or due diligence period is extremely important and is your “out” for any reason. Thus, you’ll want to make sure your home inspector is EXTREMELY thorough and will provide you with a detailed report with explanations and pictures that can be easily fowarded via email. Here is when you want to go with quality of service over price (rest assured, a quality report will generate more net savings) as these reports and data will as your leverage to negotiate seller credits. 

In summary, tip 1, reach out and build your preferred group of vendors. Home inspector, termite, contractor, plumber, rooter service technician, and if necessary a topography/geological survey specialist.

Tip 2, check their availability so that they are all available as soon as your offer is accepted so you can get everything done earlier on into the inspection contingency.

Review your data and negotiate.

Big banks, credit unions or direct lenders for loans?

Shopping for a loan can be intimidating but so long as you are informed and prepared, you’ll be in a stronger position to leverage all three options into a better rate and/or service. Firstly, reach out to the 3 different types of lenders to get an idea of loan products, emphasizing rate, term and closing costs (origination charges, fees, etc).

Remember that big banks carry the household name and borrowers often pay the premium for that. Issues with larger banks is that while their initial customer service from the loan originator might be good, the subsequent handling of your loan after passing it off to their loan processor or coordinator may be less seamless. We’ve had many clients express their discontent about the bigger banks through the underwriting process. More likely that not, they’ll be selling your loan on the secondary market as soon as possible.

Remember, negotiate everything down: fees, loan origination charges, appraisal, everything.

Now, when deciding between you options remember not to commit to any particular until you’ve done your home work and make them earn YOUR business not the other way around. Ask them what options they have and what they can do for you.

Let us know how much out of your closing costs you were able to negotiate out. We’d love to hear.

Rebating Real Estate Firm vs Traditional Firm (with rebate incentives)

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The majority if our posts emphasize the importance of leverage on either side of the transaction. We can ultimately agree that reduced transaction costs and commission amounts are benefits to buyers and sellers. However, what is the impact of the other party knowing that your representative is offering a discount (either a buyer’s rebate or a discounted listing commission) incentive. Will you, on the opposing end, see their offer has having more room to move?

For example, let’s say you are a seller and an offer comes in from “Rebate Realty Group” or a known discount brokerage. Knowing that the buyer will be receiving a rebate, how does that impact your view of the offer? Do you feel they have more room to come up especially since their hard money costs will be reduced?

Or say you are a buyer and find a listing by said Discount Realty Firm, will your offer amount change knowing that they will be netting more due to reduced commissions? Will you then reduce your amount accordingly?

Leverage is key in real estate and keeping aces in your pocket are always to your advantage (on both sides). Buyers and sellers can achieve their goals but negotiating when “traditional” firms the same rebate or discounted commission, thus taking advantage of the savings without sacrificing additional leverage. Everything is negotiable, the worst thing that can happen is they say no, or you receive a counter.

Thoughts? Email us at savings@rebagents.com

*Ask about our 60-40-20 Incentive*