Years ago, I was approached to join Redfin as a partner agent. After an exhaustive four- or five-month vetting process, I had to go and meet with someone in the city.
I learned that Redfin chooses only certain agents — agents who believed in only serving their clients well — and I was impressed. Redfin turned down so many top agents, as it felt they were not best serving its clients. I joined for a specific reason, though.
I was always too shy to ask for written testimonials after a transaction. Redfin insisted on obtaining all of our clients’ emails after a deal to both write and request a testimonial — good or bad. Then it was posted next to our profile.
Even though my clients were not referred from Redfin, for the most part, their info was required. No problem.
After a while, Redin hired its own agents and referred customers only to the Redfin partners’ (agents who were not working for Redfin but rather received referrals from the company) properties under the pricing of $350,000.
In my area, that means a two-bedroom co-op or a one-bedroom condo, and I found myself being referred to customers who were not qualified to purchase (for the most part).
I always tried to assist. You will note that the Redfin agents do quite well in sales, but, for the most part, they do not know the areas. They do not visit the broker’s open houses. But they are used solely on being able to offer that rebate to the buyer.
I have seen properties being purchased higher than they should have been simply because the buyers were getting a “rebate.” So I left Redfin, as I felt the quality of service, and in my eyes, its original business model was thrown out of the window for higher profits.
One of Redfin’s credos was not to allow a listing agent to show his or her own listing. I was contacted by a Redfin customer to show one of my listings. I immediately called Redfin and explained my dilemma.
I was informed that the Redfin agreement was with my company, and it was OK to have someone within my office show the property, thus enabling the customer to obtain the rebate. What happened to that vetting process?
When I think of the time, energy and money I spend on a listing and with potential buyers only to hear they changed their minds — it adds up. If I had been paid an hourly wage, I think that would have been fine.
I have associates in the business who insist their clients pay for their marketing upfront. In this manner, the clients always have their home clean, do not turn down appointments, and when the stager says to paint, they paint.
I recently turned down a listing because the owners wanted me to list it at a too-high price. I finally said that if I were to list it at their price, for each month it did not sell at their price, I would request an automatic 30-day extension onto the listing. They got my point. They are now renovating their kitchen.
I would welcome the a la carte service because it would make us feel more appreciated. That is us, meaning Realtors who truly work hard and want to help our clients get the best sales price and dream homes. And we would certainly be earning more.
Imagine taking someone out 10 times, two hours each time, researching, having conversations and so on. Then you learn that their children got into a special school, and they no longer wish to buy a home.
If I had known that possibility beforehand, would I have spent so much time? Probably — I care too much. But if they had paid me for my services, then it would have been their lesson learned as opposed to mine.
This article was a response to “New crop of real estate innovators out to disrupt brokerage business model” on Inman.
Gay Rosen is an associate broker at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Larchmont, New York. You can follow her at Larchmont and New Rochelle News/ The Rosen Reports or on Twitter.
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