• Brokers, agents and associations have given away the keys to the castle, and now buyers and sellers trust aggregators more than agents for home information.
  • Agents need to help sellers get the homes better prepared because now buyer traffic depends on how the homes look in the photos.
  • Buyer’s agents are now letting their buyers do the work that they once did to earn their side of the commission, which puts the current commission payout in jeopardy.

There I was on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. I met the seller, Blare, who was in the driveway putting the last touches on his house. He and his wife Mari worked so hard in conjunction with us to convert their house and their guest house into something that is in demand with today’s buyer.

No, I didn’t show up with the balloons and cookies of yesterday’s agents, but I did turn up with tons of traffic, thanks to our strategically-placed open house internet marketing — days before for maximum exposure. That day we had over 12 sets of buyers (30-plus people) come through the home with the majority coming from the internet.

A fish on the line

A young couple came strolling in around 2:30 p.m., and I saw them taking a particular interest in the house. They mentioned they had a couple of kids and seemed to pay particular attention to the guesthouse. As the couple was leaving, I could see the glimmer in their eyes as I asked the husband, “Do you have any feedback for the seller?”

Jason turned to me and said, “Yes, we want to buy it!” Of course, I was excited because we had worked so hard, and this solidifies a reasonable offer from a buyer early in the process.

And the buyer’s agent steps in

I asked the husband, Jason, where he found the house, and he said they had seen it online. I asked Jason if he had been qualified to purchase the house, and if I could help them write the contract as soon as the open house ended.

He then turned to me and said, “Oh no, when I get home I’m going to call my agent and tell him we found the house. He’ll write it up, and we will put the deal together.”

I represent the seller. So I was excited to sell the house, but this is a story that we’ve heard over and over again in the marketplace, as we have seen more agents letting their clients do their work for them while still getting paid.

We spent 90 days and lots of marketing dollars to attract that buyer. Therefore, should the buyer’s agent who only writes the offer get paid the same as I do in this situation?

All the prep work for what?

We started working with the Mador family in late spring of 2015. Having lived in their home almost 25 years, they had done some updating to the kitchen and the master and added a guest house, but they came to us looking to sell their home for top dollar.

We have been watching the Phoenix-Scottsdale market for the past few years, and a dichotomy has become apparent where a buyer will pay a significant difference for homes that have been completely redone, versus those homes needing some work.

We had our design team go in and advise the Madors as to which particular upgrade would help them get top dollar when the home sold. We assisted them with updating bathrooms and flooring and expanding some doorways to improve sightlines. Overall, we spent close to 90 days getting the house ready.

We like to spend most of our time helping seller focus on the right things — even knowing that some of our services are beyond the normal scope of an agent. The Sibbach team believes that we are in it together with the sellers.

To list the Mador home, we put our marketing packets together, we took professional photos, we bought premium advertising, and we posted the listing on our website. We were ready to get this home on the market right before the weekend, with a huge open house on Saturday.

What is the value of finding the home?

As a listing agent, do I still need to split the fees evenly, when I take on expenses, but the buyer’s agent swoops in and receives the full monty for minimal work?

When I first got in the business, the buyer’s agent would have to work very hard to find homes for people because there was not a lot of information online.

Now with listing agents posting 35 to 100 photos per home, buyers can preview homes online, do all of the research themselves and tell their agent which houses they want to see.

According to most contracts, the buyer’s agent will receive half the commission for effectively writing up the contract once the house is sold, which is much less work than the preparation and marketing of the home that I, as the listing agent, undertake.

We do a lot of open houses, and in the past quarter, in half of our listings, the buyer came to us first, due to our marketing, but used another agent to write the deal.

So has the buyer’s agent role changed? Is it fair that buyers are doing the work that the buyer’s agents are getting paid? We believe our industry is about to change.

Jeff Sibbach leads The Sibbach Team at Realty One Group.

Email Jeff Sibbach.

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