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A web-based, commission-free property listing service launched Tuesday at SXSW, the annual Austin, Texas, festival that celebrates “the convergence of interactive, music, and entertainment.”
In a press release, TopOffer.com describes itself as “the first real estate broker in the United States to offer sellers a commission-free sale of their homes,” while having the full attention of an agent.
Properties sold through TopOffer.com are “as-is,” eliminating the financial burden some sellers incur to prepare the home for the market, such as staging and curb appeal improvements.
A financial bonus is also paid to the seller at closing. The specific amount has yet to be determined.
The company charges buyers a fee, and allows sellers to remain in their homes for a specified amount of time after closing through a leaseback program, suggesting that the business model is heavily targeted toward investors and not necessarily an iBuyer or typical residential brokerage.
Buyers will pay 3 percent at close, 2.5 percent going to TopOffer.com, and 0.5 percent to the buyer’s agent, a number the company said will put them in compliance with MLSs in Texas and California.
TopOffer.com handles all marketing of the property on major property websites and real estate forums “with hundreds of thousands of cumulative members,” according to its website.
The company will cooperate with regional multiple listing services, as well.
It touts dissemination of the listing to its “big buyers’ list,” a database of thousands of qualified buyers, according to the site.
“Our agents will act as any other listing agent does, fielding offers, qualifying buyers, handling paperwork,” said Jason Buzi, TopOffer.com founder and CEO.
TopOffer.com says that savings also come from not having to prepare a home for market.
Its FAQ section reads: “With a typical listing, you will need to remodel your house, paint it, stage it, and move out prior to an open house.”
Although market prep and open houses often take a good deal of preparation, and light staging is recommended, it is not common practice to remodel or move out for an open house.
“I’ve seen a lot of instances where sellers are encouraged to remodel and do a lot work on the home these days,” Buzi said. “We think we can offer more flexibility than the standard model.”
He also said that buying as-is is growing more common in traditional real estate, especially in expensive, competitive markets like California’s Bay Area. For example, last year in Fremont, California, a condemned house sold for $1.2 million.
In most cases, buying uninhabitable homes is about the land under it, not the improvements above it.
Nevertheless, TopOffer.com gives consumers another option outside of common two-agent deals.
“I want to stress we’re not trying to replace agents, we are a brokerage,” Buzi said. “We just see all these models that are trying to save consumers money on reduced commissions, but we’re offering no seller-paid commissions.”
According to the press release, TopOffer is operating in California and Texas and has plans to launch in Florida, New York and Ohio by summer.
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