An article about Compass agents who used a new off-market service called Aalto to sell a special house. Ethics and fiduciary duties are getting shrugged off, and instead the off-market sale has become the sexy option.
Hat tip to recently-married Susie for sending this in – congratulations to you and Mr. Right!
Because of the length of the renovation and the fact that there’s nothing else like it in their Sleepy Hollow neighborhood, Hansmeyer and her husband were loathe to put the home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). People were already fascinated with the property and she didn’t want a bunch of neighbors nosing around her home.
“We wanted the right people to know about it but we didn’t even want our neighbors to know it was for sale,” she said. “We didn’t want to be ‘those people’ that everyone was talking about, especially because it was going to be at a price point that hadn’t really been seen in that area before.”
At first, her realtors Laura Reinertsen and Kristin Sennett took the home on as a traditional “pocket” listing, talking to other agents in her network to see if they might have a buyer for the turnkey property.
“Every fixture and finish was custom made to her specifications and she is very particular about lines and design,” Reinertsen recalled. “Light fixtures lined up exactly with the line between the refrigerator and freezer. And everything was like that. It was perfection and we had to find somebody who would pay for perfection in an area where people wouldn’t ordinarily pay for that.”
The typical home in the neighborhood sells for about $700 a square foot. Hansmeyer was looking for more than double that amount. So her agents suggested Aalto, a new “private listing” service just for Marin County (it recently expanded to San Francisco as well) that splits the difference between the privacy of a traditional pocket listing and the mass exposure of the MLS.
It immediately made sense to Hansmeyer and her husband. “We both come from a retail background and understand the way people buy,” she said. “We felt like the ability to visit a website just made sense to us. It’ll get in front of the right people.”
Only buyers working with an agent can see the homes on Aalto, and even then the exact locations are cloaked so that only qualified, interested parties can tour the home. Sellers can only use Aalto if they have signed a listing agreement with an agent, and they must agree to sell if a buyer is willing to meet their requested price.
These prices may be higher, but because multiple offers are much less common on Aalto, buyers have the certainty of knowing that the listing price is the real price. There’s no need to play the underpricing to get multiple offers game because the whole point of Aalto is that you only need one buyer. Owners who wouldn’t even have listed their homes otherwise use Aalto “just want to see if that buyer is out there that might be willing to pay a price that other people can’t understand,” Reinertsen said.
The service went live in early 2019 and was quickly adopted by top-tier agents. Reinertsen and her team sold over $30 million in homes on Aalto so far this year, more than half their overall total. She believes the move has happened quickly because the market was hungry for just this kind of middle ground. “Before that people would ask, ‘What do you have off market?’ But there really wasn’t a vehicle to sustain that marketplace. We could say, ‘We have this in our pocket.’ But there wasn’t the exposure to keep it top of mind,” she said. “Aalto just keeps the information out there and circulating.”
And that’s important when homeowners are asking for prices even higher than their already expensive counterparts. These homes often take longer to sell and their owners tend to value getting their price and maintaining their privacy over a quick sale, Reinertsen explained. “Our clients are private people and I think a lot of them have been through the MLS system before. They know if they go that route every single neighbor is going to come through that home. Every single friend of the neighbor is going to come through that home. And that makes people uncomfortable,” she said. “And I think that they also believe, because our market is so hot, that if their home doesn’t sell on the MLS after 10 days on the market, they’re not going to get their number.”
The number Hansmeyer had in mind was $6.5 million. She and her realtor knew it was worth it, and they were willing to wait. “She was confident in her craftsmanship and we were confident in her ability so we knew the buyer would appear,” Reinertsen said. “It just needed to be out there.”
After several months, a buyer who Reinertsen called “perfectly matched” for the property appeared. It sold for $6,262,000 in April. Had the home been in Ross or Kentfield, she said, it could have sold for over $10 million.
The National Association of Realtors is attempting to regulate a change in the Coming Soon environment – see above. The way it is written, however, will just take us back to the days when off-market deals were done behind closed doors because they are permitting the ‘office exclusives’.
Coming Soons were the industry’s public admission that we do off-market deals, and to give you a chance to get your piece of them. But now the N.A.R. wants brokerages to pick a lane.
1. Comply with the new rule, and change the name of your off-market deals to ‘office exclusives’, where no one can see them.
2. Don’t do anything, and pretend that off-market deals aren’t happening at your shop.
3. Declare publicly that off-market deals are a vital part of your business, and keep marketing them as Coming Soons to the public, in spite of any changes in the N.A.R. rules. What are they going to do?
Numbers 1 & 2 above are the less-transparent choices, and the easier way to go for the agents who justify their off-market deals by saying the seller got what they wanted.
Number 3 is the fully-transparent admission of the truth – agents like to pad their wallets with off-market deals, and don’t see anything wrong with that.
Off-market deals aren’t going away, regardless of the rules. The existing rules already state that all listings are to be inputted onto the MLS within 48 hours, but it gets ignored and there is no policing or penalties.
It’s better for everyone involved – agents, buyers, and especially sellers – to put every listing onto the MLS to ensure full exposure so everyone can compete. Buyers would feel they had an equal chance to buy, sellers get top dollar, and all agents get a fair chance to earn a paycheck.
But N.A.R. and the industry’s upper management looks the other way. It will take a class-action lawsuit or new regulations from the federal government to bring real change.
Historically, buyer-agents haven’t really had to demonstrate their true value – most buyers just grab somebody they like. But now the buyer-agent compensation is going to be revealed in Washington, starting tomorrow – and it is inevitable that it will happen everywhere. Buyers making smarter decisions about who represents them is a great idea – hopefully they won’t select their realtor purely based on their rate! P.S. This is buyer-side only. I’m not sure the listing-agent rate will ever be public.
Starting immediately, the new rules will make it easier for homebuyers to figure out if their agent is only showing them houses offering a high buyer’s commission, said Greg Gans, a broker at Hardy Realty in Seattle who describes himself as “almost exclusively” a buyer’s agent.
“I know plenty of agents who see a 1% commission, and they’ll show the house, but they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is a problem, and you’re going to have to spend this amount of money on the kitchen,’” Gans said. “Brokers think of crafty ways to steer people away from homes where they’re not going to get the full commission. Or brokers may not put together the most competitive offer” on homes offering low commission.
In the long term, though, the change could lead to a system where buyers and sellers each compensate their own agent, said Windermere broker Russ Cofano, instead of funneling commission through the seller’s agent. That could make it less expensive to sell a home.
Robert is committed to building the end-all platform for real estate – more details on the AI feature haven’t reached the west coast yet, but the game plan is clear. Hire the best agents, give them the money to spruce up the properties, and feature those new listings on the company’s website first to build the audience.
For Encinitas homeowners who are considering a granny flat – or buyers who want to purchase a suitable property – this is a 7-minute primer from one of the architects who helped guide the city to their current policy (which is the most flexible in North County).
He quotes the costs to build a granny flat to be between $75,000 to $300,000, depending on size, which still sounds like too much for most people. But he thinks that in the long run the benefits are so great that homeowners who have the right-sized property will build one.
The way this is going, Realogy is going to get stripped down and sold for parts:
With his back against the mats, Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider considered selling the brokerage to its chief rival: Compass.
In a statement Friday, the SoftBank-backed brokerage said Schneider even proposed a plan where the arch enemies would form a joint venture — a proposal Compass said it declined.
The statement was made in conjunction with Compass’ motion to dismiss an explosive lawsuit filed by Realogy earlier this summer. In the suit, Realogy accused Compass of illegal business practices, including “predatory” poaching and attempts at collusion.
“The motion reveals the lawsuit for what it is: an act of desperation in response to Realogy’s rapidly eroding market share,” a Compass spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
In the statement, Compass said if Realogy’s suit is not dismissed, Compass intends to file counterclaims against the New Jersey-based conglomerate, the parent company of the Corcoran Group and Coldwell Banker.
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced it has filed charges and obtained a consented-to asset freeze against San Diego-based ANI Development LLC, its principal, Gina Champion-Cain, and a relief defendant, for operating a multi-year $300 million scheme that defrauded approximately 50 retail investors.
According to the SEC’s complaint, beginning in 2012, defendants fraudulently raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors by claiming to offer investors an opportunity to make short-term, high-interest loans to parties seeking to acquire California alcohol licenses. In truth, the SEC alleges, the investment opportunity was a sham. Contrary to defendants’ representations, the SEC asserts, defendants did not use investor funds to make loans to alcohol license applicants. Instead, Cain directed significant amounts of investor funds to a relief defendant that she controlled.
“The SEC took emergency action to stop what we allege is an egregious fraud,” said Los Angeles Regional Director Michele Wein Layne. “Importantly, the agreement we reached with the defendants to freeze their assets during the litigation will give investors the best chance to maximize their recovery going forward.”
The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal district court in San Diego on August 28, 2019, charges defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. Without admitting any violations of federal law, defendants have agreed to preliminary injunctions against violations of these provisions of the federal securities laws, asset freezes, and the appointment of a receiver over ANI and the relief defendant to marshal and preserve assets. The stipulated order is subject to court approval. The complaint seeks disgorgement of allegedly ill-gotten gains and prejudgment interest, monetary penalties, and permanent injunctions.
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.
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