The move comes eight months after the firm rolled out its agent success services, Inman has learned. A Southwest BHHS franchisee also recently announced an agent benefits package.

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RLTY is expanding its services for agents to encompass assistance in navigating health insurance as an independent contractor, the firm told Inman exclusively.

Through a new partnership with UnitedHealthcare, one of the largest health insurance providers in the U.S., RLTY is creating a new landing page on its website where real estate agents can connect with a UnitedHealthcare representative who will explain the different policies available to them as an individual or their family, given their status as 1099 independent contractors.

Briggs Elwell | Credit: RLTY

Although some brokerages offer advice or assistance to agents in this realm — a few, like Redfin, even hire their agents as employees — RLTY is offering what is largely an untapped service for real estate agents. The move comes about eight months after the firm rolled out its agent success services, and about two years after rolling out its agent commission advance service, which is still referred to under its former RLTY Capital name, to help agents get paid sooner.

“We launched RLTY Capital, which was the commission advancing component of the business,” Briggs Elwell, CEO of RLTY told Inman. “And then No. 2 on that list, which falls under the brokerage community, was healthcare. So we went out, and it was quite an undertaking, because obviously in the healthcare world, there’s a lot of restrictions in all the different markets that you go to. It’s a state-by-state regulated industry. So we were lucky enough to align with United, which is such a powerful and great brand, and they showed a lot of interest in the brokerage community.”

Due to regulatory logistics, the firm will launch the new service in Florida before expanding nationwide in the future. Agents across Florida will have access to over 250 healthcare plans, which is one reason why having a dedicated United rep to assist them in understanding different options will be so helpful.

For now, access to the resource is open to all Florida-based agents, whether or not they subscribe to RLTY’s other services. But, Elwell suggested that after the program gains some traction over an unspecified period of time, agents will need to subscribe to other RLTY services in order to access it.

Ryan Serhant, founder of SERHANT. and a backer of RLTY, said that although there are huge perks to being a real estate agent, including that the opportunity for growth is unlimited, the fact that agents have to go without benefits from an employer is a significant challenge for agents and brokers alike.

Ryan Serhant | Credit: SERHANT. Studios

“So if I get hit by a bus, or if I get sick, or if I just have to do my annual checkup or go to the dentist, all my other friends who have regular jobs, they get to do that comfortably, and I do what?” Serhant said of some of his initial thoughts on becoming a real estate agent years ago.

“Obviously, now we have Obamacare,” he continued. “It exists, but for real estate agents, especially in high-priced cities like New York or Miami or other major urban markets, getting access to quality health care is still difficult if you don’t have an employer that provides it.”

Serhant added that the service offered by RLTY aim to level the playing field for agents, who are often at a disadvantage financially.

“Even though you’re advising the biggest transactions of a consumer’s life, [agents] are oftentimes thought of by the system as second-class citizens,” Serhant said. “Try to watch a real estate agent get a mortgage for their house, and it’s incredibly difficult. You might have had a good year, but the bank is going to look at it and say, ‘Well, none of your income is guaranteed.'”

“So I think the greater mission of RLTY is to democratize,” Serhant added.

Elwell asserted that the firm’s main goal is to simply make it easier for real estate agents to do what they love.

“Our hope is that it’s a sigh of relief for the agents out there that have face the difficulty and the challenge of trying to navigate the healthcare community without assistance,” Elwell said. “It’s astonishing to me when we hear the feedback from agents wondering the most basic question: How do I get healthcare? You can go on the internet, you Google it, and you hear about all the different options, but there’s just nobody out there that’s been actively providing the opportunity to dedicated real estate agents to help them navigate it.”

Elwell added that RLTY also works directly with brokerages as well on the service to help them with this paint point in the 1099 relationship between contractor and employer.

BHHS California, Arizona and Nevada Properties also adds health insurance option

Earlier in July, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California, Arizona and Nevada Properties also partnered with insurance agency Dergalis Associates to offer a benefit package for real estate agents across its three states of operation.

Troy Reierson | Credit: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

The program open to all full-time real estate sales executives at the brokerage features healthcare coverage, life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, retirement options, college funding assistance, long-term care support, money management resources and individual disability coverage.

“Given that real estate agents are categorized as independent contractors, access to standard employee benefits is not guaranteed,” Troy Reierson, CEO Of BHHS Nevada, Arizona and California Properties, said in a statement. “Our brokerage is taking a different approach to ensure our agents are not going without these necessities. We believe in treating our agents as valued members of our team, and that’s why we’ve introduced the new agent benefit program. It’s our way of showing our agents that we’re here for them every step of the way.”

Update: This story was updated after publication to clarify that RLTY launched its commission advance services around May 2021, and its agent success services in December 2022.

Email Lillian Dickerson

Ryan Serhant
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