A new company called Gitcha has launched which prioritizes an active buyer’s needs in the same way a portal advertises available listings. It’s active in the greater Phoenix MSA, including Scottsdale.

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A new company has launched that prioritizes an active buyer’s needs in the same way a portal advertises available listings. It’s called Gitcha, and it’s operating in the greater Phoenix MSA, including Scottsdale, according to a company announcement.

“Like the well-known MLS, the Buyer Listing Service from Gitcha offers a robust platform where real estate professionals can list and share their clients’ specific home search criteria, including financing, timing and other pertinent purchase details,” the company stated.

The website makes direct reference to the proposed National Association of Realtors’ settlement and emphasizes a field for buyer agents to post “requested compensation” alongside their client’s home wants.

Should the industry-sweeping settlement finalize as currently structured, among other rules, brokerages will only be able to publish what they’ll pay a buyer agent on a third-party, non-NAR-affiliated website, not their MLS.

Part of Gitcha’s service is its Buyer Listing Form which links a compliant, completed buyer representation form with the consumer’s home requirements. The company said the form and its workflow aligns “with new mandates.”

The website presents a buyer need in much the same way a home for sale would present online. There’s a map showing the desired location, a list of home amenities and general wants and needs, a longer form description of specifics, such as timeline and financing capabilities, and a “requested commission” field. Listing agents have a response form to use if everything overlaps with what they may be selling.

The idea of publishing specific buyer search needs to other agents is not new, but it hasn’t been formalized in any model that’s gained significant traction. Agents often send emails internally or to local networks looking for off-market or hard-to-find homes for buyers.

It would appear that the success of Gitcha’s model rests on the status of the proposed settlement, which actually remains unsettled. Its terms for NAR-affiliated listing sites and MLSs are not set to go into effect until Aug. 17 but long-term, little else will be concrete until a Nov. 26 hearing, and then there will very likely be an appeals process that could prevent any hard changes from happening until after 2024.

However, Gitcha founder Dan Cooper said the commission lawsuits’ timing is merely serendipitous, because the buyer-focused search site has been in the making for well over a decade. Cooper said to Inman on a phone call that the pain of trying to sell his own home during the Great Recession led him to the idea, but it simply sat unfinished for years. He wanted a better way to find a better buyer.

“We finally got busy rebuilding it, but I saw the need back in 2008 through 2011, and it just so happened that as we were developing it, these lawsuits gained steam,” Cooper said. “Upon the settlement happening, we’ve continued to change our language and process because we want to be compliant. And if more things come out in the wash, we’ll navigate those waters again.”

Cooper owns a real estate brokerage in Oregon, as well as an architecture firm and custom home-building company. He has about 20 agents under him and used them as a focus group for the current iteration of Gitcha.

“They actually said last April that it would be nice to have a requested commission field,” he said.

Still, entrepreneurs like Cooper looking to in some way capitalize on the legal wranglings are operating in a gray area. That hasn’t stopped others from trying to seize the market with alternative, non-MLS-supported models that can promote buyer agent commissions. Inman reported on Nesthook’s approach to commission-led search, and Verified Commissions is another, launched by Instashowing founder Will Schoeffler. That website consists of a simple address field that will confirm if the listing broker is offering buy-side compensation.

Gitcha is more fleshed out than the others as a stand-alone product, and Cooper said he can “turn off” the requested compensation field at any time and still offer the market a valuable product.

“We’re simply taking the percentage in the newly required buyer representation agreements and making it public, and it’s a request, we’re not using ‘requirement,'” Cooper said. “It can be turned off at any time.”

Cooper said the core value-add of his company is the start of a database for active buyers.

Perhaps most critical to everyone with a license is the DOJ’s take that commissions for buyer agents shouldn’t be advertised “anywhere.” NAR, naturally, has taken exception to that, saying the current settlement language “eliminates steering.”

Inman reported June 6 that NAR Chief Legal Officer Katie Johnson emailed NAR’s 1.5 million members to let them know the trade group had updated the settlement FAQs on its facts.realtor website to address steering, specifically questions 46-49.

Regardless, Cooper merely wants to see agents better serve consumers.

“There’s an unmistakable need for a new approach that empowers buyer agents and enriches their client relationships,” he said.

Email Craig C. Rowe

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