De-bunking the Atlanta Discount Real Estate Broker Myth
Writing about the competition is rarely a good idea but it is time to debunk the Atlanta discount real estate broker myth. I have heard so many radio commercials lately I have decided to shed some light on claims made by a discount real estate brokers.
I have heard claims like
“I saved 7%” in real estate commissions by using XXXXX.” Or, “XXXXX helped me sell my house and I saved $10,000”
Pardon the French but those claims are pretty much bull manure. It reminds me of a friend who travels to various casino locations for vacations. We hear a lot about how $500 was won in one hand of blackjack and how $300 was won one morning before breakfast.
What we never hear is how much was lost. Yes, we know your hotel room was comped and you never had to buy a meal the whole time you were there, but how much did you lose after wining that big $500 hand of blackjack? What was your net gain or loss for the weekend in Vegas.
FACT # 1 REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS ARE NEGOTIABLE –
Anti-trust laws helped open the real estate brokerage business to competition.
There was a time when Brokers perhaps conspired to set commissions at a certain level. Here in Atlanta, a commission of 7% was “standard” and Brokers knew they were safe in quoting a 7% commission on the listing of a home for sale. They knew other brokers would not undercut them. It was also standard for a selling Broker, the person hauling a buyer around in their car for a couple of days looking at houses, to receive half of that commission as a “co-oping” broker.
Fast forward to today. Commission fees are all over the place. Some real estate brokers list a home on the MLS for a flat fee, as little as a couple hundred dollars. They are often referred to as “discount brokers.” Other real estate brokers charge a lot closer to the old 7% “standard” fee and they are known as “full service” brokers. It is up to the individual broker and the client they are negotiating with to determine an acceptable commission rate on a real estate transaction.
Any broker who is a member of an MLS can list your home for sale and correctly claim to have exposed your home to a wide array of potential buyers. Listing a home on the MLS would be the absolute minimum I would expect from any savvy home seller in today’s marketplace. Many “flat fee” brokers fall into this category.
Discount brokers go a step further, they list the home in the MLS service and also market the home through various Internet portals like Realtor.Com, Trulia and Zillow. All these Internet portals put your home in front of thousands of potential home buyers.
Full service brokers typically go a step further. You are going to pay more in fees because you are hiring someone with more expertise in the marketing process. What you are paying for is the knowledge and experience a full service broker has about the micro market that is the neighborhood your home is located in. Who cares what homes are selling for in Forsyth County if your home is located in the Hawthorne Elementary School district on Cravey Drive.
What you need is a broker who has walked through the rooms of a house that sold on Cravey drive six months ago and knows that the home that sold for $20,000 less than you plan to list for DID NOT have an updated master bathroom. You want to full service brokers knowledge of the local real estate market to give you the maximum leverage in negotiations with potential home buyers.
If you list with a discount broker, potential home buyers, potential “selling brokers” representing buyers and your Aunt Edna all know there is some flexibility in the price because you are “saving” money on the real estate commission.
In negotiations, all parties are going to seek to exploit any “soft” areas of the deal. The discount brokerage sign in your front yard speaks volumes to those who intend to drive a hard bargain at the negotiating table. They know there is money on the table and they plan to take at least their share of it in contract negotiations.
And negotiations do not stop after a contract is signed. In the current economic client, negotiations continue until a check is given to the seller at closing. Thousands of dollars are chipped away from the sellers bottom line by savvy buyers and buyer’s brokers.
FACT # 4 – MOST SELLERS SHOULD BE CONCERNED WITH HOW MUCH THEY NET FROM A SALE
Home sellers need to focus on how much money they put in their pocket after a sale rather than focus on the commission structure. Most sellers should consider how much money they will net from the sale after all expenses have been deducted from a negotiated sales price. The most important element to most sellers is how much cash was wired into their checking account at the closing. The discount broker implies you will net more because your commission expense is lower. A full service broker implies your net will be larger (even with a higher commission expense) because their wisdom, expertise and knowledge will transfer to a better negotiation of the entire package.
WHAT DOES SALLY ENGLISH OFFER?
Sally English and The English Team at Realty Associates of Atlanta offer a negotiable and fair commission structure. Our expertise and knowledge of the local market is unsurpassed, so we can (and do) charge a commission fee that is near the top of the market. Our track record is excellent and we have plenty of satisfied customers who refer us to friends and family. These clients felt they had more money in their checking account after the sale because of the expertise we brought to the marketing and negotiation table. Many full service brokers charge less commission. All discount brokers will work for less. But, no broker has more to offer than Sally English and The English Team in the micro-markets we call “home”.