Interviewing Realtors? Ask other Realtors if they can sign this Bill of Rights
(Our guess is that they won't be able to)
We believe the following should be obvious client rights. Unfortunately, most real estate firms won't be able to commit to these simple items:
- No ABA's (Affiliated Business Arrangements): Your Realtor should have your best interests in mind, not his company's. ABA's are joint business arrangements between the real estate brokerage and related providers (like lenders). When Realtors point you to their ABA's, they get paid for doing so. You should never have to wonder if your Realtor is suggesting a certain vendor because of a referral fee.
- No Junk Fees: These $200-$400 junk fees were created by large real estate firms for both the buy and sell side. We don't believe a firm needs to take a fee on top of its commission. These are often called "administrative" fees.
- No Dual Agency: Dual agency (where the Realtor represents both sides of the transaction) is illegal in many states (but legal in the VA/MD/DC area). It's not legal in many parts of the US for good reason - how can your Realtor represent the other party if they're representing your interests? The answers is, they can't! You can get a more in-depth look at why dual agency is so dangerous.
- No telling you what to pay: We won't tell you what to pay for a place. Ever! We won't even answer the "What if you were me" question, since we aren't you! It is your money, and your risk tolerance. Instead of telling you a price, we will go over a ton of data to consider and conclude with our recommendations on what the other side MIGHT do and separate it into three categories: Accept, Counter or Walk. Ultimately you decide how aggressive you want to be. What we will do is give you the information to become informed, like how to get the absolute best rate on your loan.
- No Home Warranty Insurance Kickbacks: Even though it is illegal to receive a commission for selling insurance (unless you are a licensed insurance dealer), the Home Warranty companies have figured out a way to give agents and firms an "admin fee" of $60 to sell their goods. Why bother? We won't accept that commission as we feel that is illegal. Instead, we will pass that "admin fee" to the buyer/seller. This might seem like a small amount, but the principle is what matters. We make our money on the commission, we don't need to upsell you to make another $60.
- No Buyer Agent Bonuses/Bribes: We outline our compensation up front in our Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement. If there is an undisclosed bonus to us as the Buyer's Agent, you, the buyer, get that in the form of a rebate on the HUD-1. Incidentally, did you realize that almost all other Realtors keep that bonus, and many never even tell you about it? If you ever find yourself being pushed into a specific home by a Realtor, that may be why: There may be a bonus to the Realtor for convincing you to buy a specific property, and you might not even realize it. That will never happen with us. You should also learn how Realtors get paid.
- 20 Photos & Custom Domain Name Website Per Listing: It boggles our minds when a $900,000 listing posts 3 photos taken with a camera phone and then the listing agent wonders why it didn't sell for 200 days. (And this is from a "Top 3" large company.) The MLS listing form even allows agents to check a default button to allow the MLS to dispatch a high school photographer to take a free exterior shot. We call this the "free drive-by shooting" option. If they used this option, you have a terrible agent! One additional thing we do is make a custom website for our listings.
- Professional Staging: We won't list a house unless we can make it look better than a model home. Why? It works. It gets you more money and the house sells faster. Professional staging usually costs about 1% of the price of the home (if you're good enough to make it look like a model, it won't be necessary).
- You're High Tech, We're High Tech: We can offer 100% paperless transactions from start to close (Take a look at our electronic signature form). No "missing deadlines" because you are out of town. No unnecessary "meeting to sign" papers or trips to Kinkos. We also use instant messaging, cell text messaging and of course email... from our phone. Prefer paper? We can do that too.
- Sale Price Guarantee: Bubble fears? Scared your agent will talk you into something bad to make a buck? There are few things more painful than losing money on a transaction. We want to lower your risk by buying with us. If you need to sell your house within the next 5 days or 5 years, and we can't sell it for more than you bought it for, we will sell it for a "no fee" listing commission, meaning we won't charge you to list the home. We make money when you make money. If you lose money on a deal, we'll help you out without charging.
Our firm can offer this Bill of Rights - can any competing firms you're speaking to? Go ahead - ask the Realtor to sign it, right here:
I, a competing Realtor, affirm that I can in fact also offer all of these items to a buyer.
Best regards, and good house hunting. We're here when you need us.
DROdio Real Estate, Inc.
P.S. - Others must think what we're doing is pretty neat too, as we've been featured in multiple publications for our progressive use of technology in the real estate world, including The Discovery Channel, CNN, CNBC, The Washington Business Journal, Forbes.com, CNN Money, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and many others.