It’s inevitable that the amount of the commission paid by the seller to the buyer-agent will be made public.
Because the existing rules forbid the MLS companies from disclosing the commission amount to the public, it sounds like the consumer is being wronged. The lawsuits filed against major brokerages are building their case on the lack of transparency about that commission, and when they settle, it’s likely that this will be among the big wins for them – they got the buyer-agent commission disclosed to the public.
Let’s jump ahead.
Once revealed, the public will come to two conclusions about the buyer-agent’s commissions:
The vast majority of sellers offer a 2.5% commission/bounty/reward to buyer-agents to sell their house.
The two best attempts of creating an agent-ranking website got shot down by realtors themselves. But outside entrepreneurs keep plugging away, and one of them could find the right mix and hit the jackpot some day.
One website called homelight.com has agent data. To see what they presented, I looked up my own name. They don’t go into details of where they found this data, or how to interpret this data. No time periods are given either:
Realtors complained about accuracy, but this is what we get instead – outsiders who are running an agent-referral business and using our names and numbers for eyeball bait. They hope you’ll inquire about an agent, submit your contact info, and then they will send you two other agents who are paying them a referral fee of 25% to 30%.
I don’t know where this company gets their data. I’ve sold around 32 homes within the city limits of San Diego, but did they get that straight from the MLS? A title company?
The average days-on-market should only be for listings sold – unless a longer average means the agent’s buyers are waiting out the sellers more effectively. On the MLS, my average days-on-market with sellers is 29 days, and buyer sales average 50 days so I don’t know where they got the 64.
Who knows about the 177. I have more than that on my Zillow count but they may have taken their number from a few years ago? BTW, Zillow finally corrected their sales counts. Each agent has their sales tally on their Zillow page, but Zillow’s 12-month timer must have broke because recently they had displayed my count for the last 17-18 months. I doubt any agents complained! It is back to the 12-month count now.
Two broker-generated listing portals are being developed currently, and they should include agent statistics right off their MLS. They will have the accurate data at their fingertips, so let’s create a depository of identical stats on each agent so the public can educate themselves.
Would it favor the old veterans who have more stats?
It might impress the analytical people who crave data, but consumers should be willing to consider the whole package. If photos and video were included in each agent page, any realtor could create a compelling case on why people should use them.
If agents don’t develop our own website, others like Zillow will keep doing it for us. Or we’ll leave it the way it is now, with agents being able to say whatever they want about themselves because there’s no public way to verify.
Recently an agent mailed out a fancy brochure about being a rural-property specialist. But a simple MLS search of her sales revealed that she had never sold a rural property. She said she had 15 years experience, but she got her license four years ago. I guess she could have been an assistant, or sold in another state, but if you haven’t sold one here yourself in the last four years, then you aren’t a specialist. Yet many agents get away with it because there’s no transparency.
Let’s provide a simple and identical set of data on every agent, and give explanations on how to interpret them.
These are my 16 listings sold over the last 12 months:
Possible interpretations by consumers:
1. He only sold 16 listings in the last 12 months?
The blog drove a lot of buyers my way during the downturn, and I’ve been scrambling to generate organic listings since the REO listings dried up.
2. He sells them too fast.
Sellers who think it should take months to sell a house will think I’m giving them away. But it is more a reflection of pricing accuracy and a hot market.
3. He doesn’t work my price range.
4. He doesn’t work my area.
5. He doesn’t sell my size of house.
6. He’s too busy. (I’ve sold twice this many)
7. He’s not busy enough.
8. He only works with sellers (I closed 17 buyer sales).
If each agent inputted their own explanations, they could add texture to their stats, and make their case why they should be hired. Include a video presentation too (Zillow does).
Consumers would be making educated decisions, and we as agents should not only applaud that, we should insist on it. Agents would have to get better at selling themselves, and those that do would get the business, regardless of experience or sales history.
I am uncomfortable displaying my stats – people are prone to poke holes and find faults. It’s why realtors don’t want data released! But we should all get used to our sales histories being public, because one way or another it is happening – with or without us. Let’s make the best of it!
The son of a past client scored a good job in San Francisco a few years back, and is looking at 1-bedroom condos going for $700,000 – $800,000.
They wondered if I had any tips.
Good golly, at that rate I better come up with something!
1. Get a good realtor. These high-dollar areas pay big commissions and thus, attract plenty of real estate licensees. But you need a great agent who knows more than you do, and brings extra value to the equation. Ask how many times they’ve talked someone out of buying a home recently.
Not only will a great agent make you feel comfortable about the price/value equation, but their market cred will help too – because good agents want to work with good agents. It happens regularly that my personal relationship with the other agent makes a difference in the outcome.
How do you find a good agent? The best luck I’ve had is searching for agents at Zillow, but you have to read through sales histories and testimonials (in that order) of each agent to find the right fit. Also check their recent sales history to see if they have been selling similar homes and/or working your area.
I don’t care what company an agent works for, because real estate is an individual sport. I’m not impressed by the big realtor teams either – I want individual attention. I reviewed the first two pages on Zillow for San Francisco agents, and found this one:
An agent’s recent sales is the best measure, and not only is she selling 3-4 per month but she also lists her annual production too – and she was consistent during the downturn. She has been a realtor for 20 years, and has over 300 closings submitted to Zillow.
She has three listings, which, in this market, is about right – if you are good, they should be selling, not sitting. Plus she has a 1-bedroom listing for $735,000! I don’t know if she passes you off to an assistant, but if not, she’s a qualified possibility.
The agents input their own listings and sales history, and Zillow provides a form for them to email to past clients to solicit their testimonials. But all of her client ratings were the full five stars, which is exceptional.
2. Buy For the Long-Term. You may get stuck with this one for a while, so make sure you get what you want and need. Keep exploring other areas for alternatives you haven’t thought of yet.
3. Know the Inventory. You may only have minutes to make decisions, be prepared. Get auto-notifications of new listings to stay up on the market, and go to open houses – not just to find a home to buy, but also to study the market patterns. You may not buy this one, but when you see it go pending, know why somebody else found it attractive. If nothing else, at least be an online expert that follows the data closely – and don’t be surprised if you keep seeing crazy sales; they are almost always attributed to buyer frustration and lousy representation.
4. Get Pre-Qualified. Once you select a realtor, get pre-qualified for a mortgage using their recommended lender – they might bring some street cred too. You either use a 20% down payment or you don’t, and either is fine. If you don’t want to use a 20% down payment, you can do an 80/10/10 (1st and 2nd loans) that will at least lock you in to a low-rate 1st mortgage for the duration. If you end up with less than 20% down and only want a first mortgage, you need PMI – private mortgage insurance. But if you get lucky, you can have the seller pay the entire premium up front (around 3%), so it won’t cost you anything monthly.
5. Know the Contract. With Docusign, the electronic-signature process, signing a contract goes a little too fast. Instead of reading the contract together with your agent in the corner booth at the local coffee shop, today you just rapid-click on your phone or PC to imprint your initials and signatures and whoosh, off it goes. Know what you are signing! The two most important paragraphs are 3K and 14.
6. Time is of the Essence. It is likely that most buyers will lose at least one property because they don’t react fast enough. I just had a case where I called the listing agent of a house that my clients had just decided to buy. The listing agent told me that she had been working back-and-forth with a buyer and other agent, and had just received a counter-offer that was acceptable to her sellers – and she was about to send it to them for final signature!
In these moments, your agent has to say the right thing. In this case, not only did I stop the agent from signing a cash offer, I got her to accept my financed buyers’ offer instead!
This is a fast-moving environment and each day the best deals get picked up – if you like a home, chances are somebody else does too.
7. Consider Fixers. Be picky about location and floor plan, because you can’t change those. But most buyers shy away from homes that need work, which can open up opportunities. Get comfortable with the costs of fixing in advance, and know what you are looking at. You can get a full evaluation and cost estimate during your contingency period.
8. Make Offers. Once your first salvo goes over the bow, the comfort level improves greatly. Include a love letter that tugs at the sellers’ heartstrings.
9. What to Offer. The price to offer is directly related to the time on market. If it is the first week of the listing and you recognize it to be a good value, you will probably have to pay all the money. But I hate to offer full price, because in the first week the sellers want to dicker, and full price doesn’t give them anywhere to go. If you know there aren’t any other offers, then come in $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 under the list price so the math is easy for the seller to split the difference. If you hear subsequently that there are other offers, re-submit your offer with a higher price so you don’t get forgotten.
10. Use Bubbleinfo.com as a Resource – You may not get any local-SF specific data but general information is available by using the Search feature at the top of the front page here. For example, I typed in ‘Bidding Wars’ and got this link to a wide-ranging set of blog posts about winning a bidding war:
This video shows an example of the case I would prepare on behalf of a buyer making an offer on a house in Bird Rock – it demonstrates the supporting data I would use to back-up my buyer’s offer price. You would think that this is standard practice for agents, but surprisingly, hardly any do it.
When I represent sellers, I would send comps with our counter-offer to support the seller’s price!
What’s the point? With the lack of comps, there is a 5% to 10% swing in price for any house. The final sales price is usually determined by which agent has the better powers of persuasion.
The Chelsea listing agent is a 30-year veteran of the business, yet she had only one closing this year – for $280,000 – before this one closed. I called her for an explanation as to why the sales price dropped to $975,000 from a list price of $1,185,000, and she said, “the sellers wanted to sell”.
We call that the “Ole close” – she just got out of the way. Get good help!
The latest from Altos data @mikesimonsen: financial markets are correcting dramatically + #mortgagerates are at their highest in 2 yrs. How quickly will this impact #homebuying decisions?: https://hubs.ly/Q012SS230
Jim the Realtor is legit - I interviewed three brokers; he said list price should be $100,000 higher than the other two brokers; listed it with him and had all cash (no financing) offer in two days, five day contingency period, closing in two weeks - and it closed at his recommended list price. I could not recommend anyone more than I recommend Jim the Realtor.
When we moved to San Diego in 2005 we rented a big house on Mt. Soledad (La Jolla) with 180 degree ocean views for the same payment as a mortgage on a dump in Chula Vista. Clearly something was wrong. Yet, the media was full of the usual happy-talk nonsense, so I was glad to find Jim's blog. I've followed his honest assessments and data since.
We decided to sell and move to AZ at Thanksgiving. Dec. 1st we met with Jim to sell our home. We closed today (29 days later). Jim orchestrated a feeding frenzy -- we had 25 showings in 2-1/2 days, multiple offers, and sold for well over asking price. I'd say he earned his commission! We have owned and sold homes in 5 different States always using experienced, productive, full-time realtors. Jim outshines them all.
You don't decide to sell and close 29 days later over Christmas (with COVID lockdown) without some miracles. Donna was amazing at performing lots of those miracles and ensuring that everything was done right and on time. They are a terrific team with a very responsive and professional network.
Where do we begin..2020 has been a year for everyone. When COVID hit and shut down both my husband and my businesses, we were left with a mortgage and very little income coming in. We were stressed, scared and felt stuck. We made the hard decision to sell our home and move out of state. We contacted the Klinges' and spent a good hour going over what we hoped we could accomplish. Jim and Donna came over with comps in hand and suggestions on improvements to get our house ready for the market. It was overwhelming to think about, but Donna was there and one step ahead in every scenario. Basically we just approved what they suggested and Donna handled literally everything. We placed our house on the market and within the first day we had multiple offers well above asking price! We couldn't believe it. We were overjoyed! Jim countered the offers to weed through them, and everyone came back with way more. It was amazing, and we are ?? sure it was because of the staging and repairs the Klinges suggested we do.
Due to unforeseen dishonesty from the buyers lender, we hit a big hurdle when trying to close. We had already moved out of state and were shocked when three days before closing the lender dropped a bombshell on the buyers and us. However, Jim and Donna handled it like veterans, not afraid to play hard ball and represent their clients. After a few phone calls with us, and several between Donna and the lender, they had a plan B-Z to make sure we were taken care of. In the end we closed with even more money than we ever thought possible and with very little work from us. The Klinges handled this entire "2020" worthy event with the utmost professionalism and did everything in their power to not only make this as smooth as possible for us, but we also walked away with more money from the sale of the house than we ever hoped for. After working with Jim and Donna, you don't ever use anyone else. They are hands down the best team to represent you in any scenario.
Working with Klinge Realty Group was a great experience! They are very responsive, professional and knowledgable about the real estate market! I would definitely recommend Klinge Realty Group.
Jim and Donna Klinge made the sale of our condo extraordinarily easy. They know the market and gave us sound advice backed by details and very considerable experience, reflected both in the initial pricing and subsequent negotiations. They work together as a team and are always available to talk. We had a few challenges with our property and they were able to coordinate the resolution to everything, including items that I would not think would ordinarily be their responsibility to handle. They made the whole process effortless on our part. They are folks with high integrity and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
Review for Member: Donna Klinge
I cannot believe there are no reviews of Donna yet, ugh!! She is the secret sauce of the Jim Klinge/Donna Klinge combo! I will touch on Jim here, but Donna is why I'm so totally loyal to these two (no offense to Jim :)).
I consider myself a rather savvy buyer/seller. I've bought/sold 7 times in about 15 years. On the buy side, Jim is the PERFECT combo of: completely digitally savvy (he will pull data all day long until you feel comfortable with your chosen house, area, school district, anticipated appreciation rate...anything!), he's super well respected and known in the area by other agents, an amazingly cool but strategic negotiator, is totally devoid of desperation for a sale/commission, and more.
Then once you get into contract phase, Donna literally handles every last and final detail in a concierge-like manner -- totally shielding you from the daily back and forth, noodling and annoyances of the buyer's requests. She solves it ALL; it's miraculous what that woman accomplishes over and above what is even expected in a buy/sell transaction.
On the sell side, Jim and Donna do the same, but even moreso. Donna in particular truly takes everything off your plate: she'll manage getting the house painted, the carpets replaced, she'll go on site (as she Jim both did for me when selling our rental properties) to work with the renters and make sure the house is ready to show -- freeing me to have to take time off of work to do so. They work with A+ integrity, too, so you know you are serving all parties fairly and lawfully throughout.
A home purchase/sale is the most considered you'll ever make. HIRE A SAVVY AGENT, not a friend!, and get what you need out of the transaction. Jim and Donna are our agents for life.
Jim and Donna Klinge are by far the most professional, personable and responsive realtors I have ever worked with. They provide VIP concierge level service in every area of the process of selling your home. My home was marketed so successfully that we received an offer the day after our first and only open house. Thanks to Jim's pricing and negotiating, our house is now the highest sold in our community. Jim's vast experience means he has worked with several realtors and knows the market all over north county. Donna is AMAZING in processing everything in the transaction. She scheduled trades people to work on the house in preparation for the sale as well as the repairs needed before closing. She communicated clearly every step of the way about what would be happening. She took the weight off my shoulders for the whole process. I will always use Jim and Donna for my future real estate needs and I whole heartedly recommend them to anyone buying or selling a home.
Jim and the team at Klinge Reality are without a doubt the best in the business! Not only was Jim helpful and extremely knowledgeable, he was patient and determined to help me find my first home. Jim and his team have been in the business for many years, and it shows. Jim is a wealth of knowledge and was my biggest proponent despite the temperature of the competitive market. I ended up getting the perfect property in my dream neighborhood all thanks to Jim. From the day my offer was accepted, Donna was a real lifesaver. She was extremely helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable when it came to every minute detail, and held my hand through the process. As a first time home buyer I had no idea what the process would entail, but Donna curtailed every concern I came across and made the escrow process feel seamless. Jim and Donna provided me the best home buying experience, and I am very grateful for all they did for me. It was truly a pleasure to work with Jim and Donna and I am already looking forward to the next time we work together!
Review for Member: Richard Morgan
Richard is an amazing realtor! He has high integrity and genuinely cares about his clients and their needs. Richard paid close attention to what I was seeking in a home and was very patient in our search to find it. I would highly recommend Richard and will use him for future transactions. Truly a different kind of realtor experience!
Could not be happier with my experience with Jim and his team. He helped me sell a very unique and challenging property. Throughout the entire process he was always available, honest, transparent, trustworthy, and always put my interests as a seller first. A (rare) true professional! During close of escrow Jim went above and beyond to complete the deal. It would not have been possible without his experience, fantastic team, and pure dedication. Highly recommended!
Thanks Jim and Donna Klinge!