Adam Levin, a prominent labor attorney, wanted to sell his expensive home in the upscale Los Angeles-area beach town of Manhattan Beach. After interviewing a few listing agents — and ignoring their advice — he had a real estate revelation.

Levin didn’t agree on the agents’ pricing suggestions and realized pricing his home lower to facilitate a quicker sell was in the agent’s best interest, and not necessarily his. So he priced his home at the higher end and the listing practically sold itself.

Why aren’t home sellers controlling the sale of one of their biggest assets? And why do agents collect such a hefty sum for such little work? Those are two questions he posed to an acquaintance, real estate broker-owner Courtney Poulos.

Courtney Poulos

Courtney Poulos

“I realized he was right,” Poulos, 37, told Inman. Sellers, especially those with high-end homes, don’t need to pay a 5 percent commission rate to get their homes sold, especially in the blazing-hot Los Angeles market, Poulos said.

Poulos, who owns the 13-agent Los Angeles-based firm ACME Real Estate, and Levin teamed up to design and launch Evolution Real Estate, a firm tailored to high-end sellers who want to remain in the driver’s seat of their home sale by offering them real estate agent services on a per-hour basis.

Levin, a co-founder of the new firm, serves as general counsel and handles contract management for Evolution Real Estate.

Adam Levin

Adam Levin

Sellers won’t pay more than $1,000 per hour, and the fee will vary by the home and the specific needs of the client, Poulos said.

The fee-for-service brokerage model is not new — neither is charging real estate clients an hourly rate –but it’s rare.

Some startups are looking to push real estate more toward the a la carte model. For example, SOLO, which launched earlier this year and is currently on the hunt for funding, connects homebuyers who want to pay for real estate agent services on an a la carte basis with agents.

Poulos estimated that a reasonably priced home takes about 30 hours of an agent’s time from list to close.

That estimate includes the time it takes to do everything a listing agent typically has to do to get a home sold: Hire a photographer; produce marketing materials; place the home in the multiple listing service and online portals; get media coverage if the house is notable; host separate, catered open houses for brokers and buyers; negotiate the contract; facilitate the closing; make sure contingencies are met; and conduct a transaction audit.

Sellers can hire Evolution Real Estate to handle any one of those tasks, Poulos said. To ensure sellers won’t end up paying more in this different model, fees will be capped at the equivalent of 2.5 percent of the sales price, she said.

Evolution Real Estate, which currently has two agents, has soft-launched with its first listing: a $2.7 million home in the exclusive Oaks of Calabasas neighborhood that sits on the same street as the $2.7 million home that teenage reality TV scion Kylie Jenner recently purchased.

The sellers of that home hired Evolution Real Estate to handle the catered open house for brokers and to handle private showings. The sellers chose the photographer themselves and also handled the printed material and set the list price.

“It’s a volume model,” Poulos said. The firm will need to do a lot of deals to make it work, but she said she believes it will, calling the model a “no-brainer” for some sellers.

“We know the slam-dunk is the high end,” Poulos said.

If Evolution Real Estate takes off as she thinks it might, Poulos will explore franchising the model. In addition, she’s looking into ways to make it work at lower price points and even on the buy side.

The new business model may get some exposure on “My City’s Just Not That Into Me,” Poulos’ real estate reality TV show.

Email Paul Hagey.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription