Multiple Listing Services. Do they help or hurt American Consumers?

Some people see the real estate multiple listing service (MLS) business model as a great benefit to the American consumer. Others (Not-REALTORS) have doubts. The Department of Justice and some judges are on the side of the doubters. I favor a competitive environment that allows more brokerage service and fee options for the consumer; the MLS model has room for growth. Essential Real Estate has proven long-held beliefs are myths.

The essence of the issue is that MLS systems are designed for the Seller to pay one commission to the listing broker, and the listing broker then commits to paying half of the commission to a cooperating broker. More often than not, that cooperating broker is working diligently for the buyer’s advantage to the Seller’s detriment and then collecting their fee from their opponent, the Seller. The rules of membership in an MLS result in listing brokers obligating their home-selling clients to promise to pay the highest typical rate of commission to the buyer’s agent in most cases. (I estimate that rate to be 3.0% in 90% of all listings)

Paying the other side to work against you is unprecedented. The closest example might be losing in court with the obligation to pay court costs and attorney fees for the other side. The Seller isn’t losing in a home sale, but they still pay the buyer’s broker. That’s peculiar. 

This article in the New York Real Estate News summarizes the complex issue. I’ll offer a solution suggestion. Split the commission in two. 

The MLS is a Private Club

To understand how the MLS works, consider it similar to a private club for people with specific credentials. In this case, it’s a real estate license. Licensees apply for membership and pay dues to join the MLS. The members promise to cooperate with all members in exchange for the privilege of access to every member’s inventory of listings. Cooperation is guaranteed, while meeting standards earn compensation.

One rule of membership in the MLS can not be an obligation to pay a set price commission to members. Over time, some practices become Standard Operating Procedures. About 88-90% of all listings in an MLS will include a 3.0% offer of compensation to be paid by the Seller. That’s not a rule; it’s the way it is. The following most likely number below 3.0% is 2.5%.  

Split the Commission. Let the Free Market Decide. 

Cooperation between MLS members will not change, and the consumer will not suffer if the practice of one commission paid by the Seller ends. My proof is two years of running an alternative business model with more options for the home seller’s advantage. Instead of obligating the Seller to pay a 6.0% commission expecting half of that commission will be delivered to a buyer’s agent, listing contracts with clients of Essential Real Estate are signed with commitments set less than 6.0%. 

Where the same Seller has an option to sign a listing contract at 6.0% with another broker member of the MLS, Essential Real Estate Clients might sign a contract committing themselves to no more than 4.0% commission and promise to pay the buyer’s agent 2.0% commission instead of 3.0%. This way, our selling client retains the opportunity to agree to pay a higher commission and can decide after seeing the quality of offers. The results are compelling. An uncommon member is a broker who demands a 3.0% commission from the Seller in exchange for their buyer’s Offer to Purchase when the Seller offers 2.0%. 

It’s a Seller’s Market. They should get all of the advantages.

The compensation method we use is the kind of advantage owners deserve in this market. Locking a Seller into an obligation to pay top rate commission for any offer artificially supports the highest commission rate placing the seller at an avoidable disadvantage. Free markets drive prices up and down. The commission is the price of the service. There might be some artificial support for the commission to hold firm at 3.0% in any economy. Splitting the commission into two sides might remove one of those supports. 

Three Costly Mistakes Homesellers Must Avoid This Spring

Real estate commissions are negotiable. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at listing contracts. According to RealEstateWitch, Wisconsin home sellers are paying an average rate of about 6.0%, one of the highest rates in the country. 

Ask any broker, and they’ll probably quote their commission as 6.0% of the sales price. So why aren’t the rates being negotiated? There are two reasons in my opinion. (1) Brokers are well versed in handling the commission negotiation question. (2) Consumers accept the argument against negotiating commission. 

The Consequences of Unnegotiated Commission

Bloomberg reported commissions would top 100 billion dollars in 2021. Is this a problem or a success? It depends. Homeowners pay broker commissions out of their home equity. The commission is calculated on the sales price: $400,000 X 6% = $24,000. But the commission is paid from home equity savings. Assume your equity is $100,000. Let me ask the question another way. Is paying 24% of your savings for one service the best you can do?

The Three Costly Mistakes

The spring market is on in Madison. Thousands of people will sign listing contracts this year. Most will make three mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars. Avoid them and increase your aftersale profit by thousands of dollars.  

1) Promise to pay a buyer broker a 3.0% commission to represent the buyer in negotiations against you. Listing brokers will lock commit you to promise to pay a buyer’s broker top rate commission when you sign a listing contract. You can negotiate up from there, but not down.  The time to negotiate buyer broker commission is after you see the offer terms.

2) Promise to pay a 6.0% commission to the listing broker to procure a buyer without exploring options. Alternatives to full-price commissions are indeed few and hard to find, but they’re out there. Before committing to any level of service and price, the wise homeowner will explore options.

3) Blinded by the bright light of a high price. After years of working with multiple offers on single homes, you would think the strategy of offering the highest price and renegotiating later would be well recognized and avoided. There are always new agents and easily dazzled homeowners willing to take a chance on the bright shining price. You can negotiate a ridiculous price; just make sure there are no escape clauses that let the buyer renegotiate a better price a few weeks after acceptance.

 Essential Real Estate brokers guide homeowners to negotiate wisely. We believe you should have options to keep the advantage on your side and reduce your selling costs where possible. Every dollar you save is home equity money, and you need it for whatever you’re going to do next.  To learn how to use our strategy to increase your profit, contact me at www.TMeyerRE.com

It takes two sides to negotiate a commission

Do you know how it’s said, “Real Estate Commissions are Negotiable?”

It’s true; they are.

The problem is it takes two sides to negotiate. 

And, it appears one side doesn’t. 

In our market and across the country, the average commission is still Six percent of the sale price. And what does a person get for that?

When brokers don’t negotiate, homeowners spend way too much of their equity on broker commissions. (100 billion dollars last year)

And that’s the problem we solved.

Essential Real Estate clients never pay six percent commissions, and for the commission they pay us, they get more profit, lower costs, and better contracts. 

Metropolitan Place Owners Might Be Missing The Market by about $10,000

Home sellers are not getting the full benefit of a SELLER MARKET.  Metropolitan Place Condominium owners are paying a nearly $10,000.00 premium to sell their condos in 2020. A quick comparison of sales in 2020 compared to sales in 2011 proves somebody can save significant money if they had a viable choice. 

2011 Recession Pricing of Condos and Broker Fees

In the first 10 months of 2011 only six Metropolitan Place (360 W Wash) condos sold. The average time on the market was 193 days. Each sale reported to the MLS shows the seller paid buyer brokers a 3.0% commission. We know the RASCWMLS practice offers 50% of the total commission to a buyer agent so let’s assume the typical seller paid a typical 6.0% commission. If 2011 was a buyer’s market (six months on the market and 93% of the final asking price) and the going commission rate of 6.0% was related to the difficulty in attracting a buyer and negotiating a sale, do we expect to see the commission rates change in a favorable seller market? A hundred economists might say yes. Let’s see what happened.

A Fast Market in 2020

Compare the 193 days on the market in 2011 to the 38-day average in 2020. Consider the average sale price to asking price, with no price reductions, is 98.5%. Sixteen units sold in ten months. There are supply and demand. So, what happened to commission rates? Fifteen out of sixteen owners paid 3.0% to buyer agents. Assume that’s 50% of the commission, and it’s safe to conclude the typical commission rate was 6.0% in 2020. If you are an economist, please share your thoughts. Are owners not able to negotiate both sides of the commission? If not, why not? 

Lack of Viable Choice

The average sale price in Metropolitan Place was $357,706. Essential Real Estate, LLC is a choice for complete real estate service at a market rate. We charge $499 plus 1.0% of the sale price to represent our clients. Furthermore, we teach our clients how to negotiate the buyer agent commission AFTER they see the Offers’ quality. Promising to pay 3.0% before you know the terms of an offer is an expensive mistake. Most of our clients receive multiple offers and they negotiate a buyer agent commission of 2.0%. I’m happy to explain how this works. Our clients are delighted to save a few thousand extra dollars.

3.0% + $499 Total Commission v. 6.0% is a Viable Alternative

The average sale price of $357,706 is an opportunity to save $10,000 in home equity. We believe it is better that you keep your home equity than spend it on selling costs and fees. If that seems like a good idea, let’s talk. 

Essential Real Estate. A Free Market Choice by the Numbers.

For a market to be free there must be a choice on both sides of the transaction. Do we have a free market real estate service economy?
Maybe.

Real estate representation is a licensed service. The standard of performance is the same for every real estate licensee. There is no choice as to which legal obligations a licensee will perform. There is a minimum standard though, and we expect some licensees to rise above the minimum to be a choice of higher-skilled service for the consumer.

What about the price? As long as the consumer is willing to pay *6.0% broker fees the market will be dominated by firms that choose to offer the same real estate licensed service for the same 6.0% price. Eventually either the consumer will demand a range of prices for the legally obligated services or licensees will choose to structure their business model to be profitable and sustainable at an alternative fee.

Essential Real Estate, LLC was created in 2019 in Madison to be a free market choice for home sellers who want to keep more of their home equity by spending less on broker fees. These are the numbers.

When the fee of choice tends to be 6.0% of the sale price the regressive nature of the “tax on value” hits those who can least afford the fee the hardest.

$400,000 Value. $300,000 mortgage. $100,000 equity
$400,000 x 6.0% = $24,000.
$24,000 is 24% of the equity.

OR

$400,000 x 4% = $16,000
$16,000 is 16% of equity.

To pay a 6.0% commission the home seller will pay 50% more money compared to a 4.0% commission.

50% more, in this scenario, is $8,000. By moving that $8,000 back into the hands of the seller the difference is impressive:

The $8,000 is a 33.3% reduction in the price of the commission.
The $8,000 is a 10.5% increase in retained equity.
The $8,000 applied to the next down payment will reduce a monthly payment on a 30-year mortgage at 4.1% by $39.
$39 per month is $468 per year
$468 per year for 30 years is $14,040.00

Finally, home owners have a choice to pay less in selling commission and keep more of their home equity. Essential Real Estate has set the market free.

Listing fee: $499 at signing. Commission of 4.0% or less due at closing. We will show you how to make that 4.0% less.

* The Internet Didn’t Shrink the 6.0% commission

There is only one commission

If I buy a house from the listing agent, without involving another agent, should I expect to save 3% of the purchase price  (approximately 1/2 of the commission total) because there is only one agent to pay?  No. There is no half of a commission. Sorry real estate bloggers. You’re explanation to the public is wrong, and some of those people are paying a high price to find out commission does not work like you think it works.

To understand the commission distribution method in a real estate transaction, you have to recognize that there are multiple contracts involved in the transaction. Each of the contracts is an agreement to cooperated, and compensate based on criteria the buyer has no part in deciding.

MLS Contract: Each Firm and their agents belong to the RASCW-MLS. To be a member you agree (by contract) to cooperate with all firms and compensate the firm who procures the buyer for your listing.   Procures. Keep that in mind. It’s important.

Listing Contract: A seller of real estate contracts with a firm, agreeing to terms of service, obligations of the broker and seller, etc. One aspect of the agreement is compensation. If the listing broker charges a commission of 6% of the purchase price, the fee the owner is obligated to pay is 6%. There is the one commission.

Let’s say the sale price of a house is $300,000. I am the listing agent. You are the buyer. This imaginary person next to me is the seller. At closing the seller pays my firm $18,000.  If there is a cooperating firm in the transaction my broker will deliver a check for 50% of the commission. It’s still one commission. That’s a cost of doing business in a cooperative MLS. My firm then splits the remainder of the one commission with me based on my commission split agreement.  If there is no cooperating firm, there is no other firm to pay.  That’s the agreement the broker has with the seller. One commission. Six percent.

There is no buy side and sell side commission.  Real estate bloggers who talk about two commissions or buy side and sell side are confusing the public. Time and again buyers offer less than they have to thinking there is a commission to save, and they come in second or third or worse in competition. The listing firm is paid by the seller and the listing firm compensates cooperating brokers. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

What about a buyer agent? When the buyer has a contract to compensate a buyer broker for real estate services there is an agreement/contract between the buyer and the broker for compensation. The buyer agrees to pay the broker a stated amount. Assume it’s 3%. The buyer is obligated to pay the firm 3% when they close on a house. The contract provides an opportunity for the buyer to have their 3% buyer broker fee reduced by the amount the broker is able to collect from the listing broker, and or the seller.  Without getting to deep into the weeds, it is a rare transaction where the 3% the buyer is obligated to pay isn’t paid to the buyer broker by the seller or from the offer of compensation made by the listing firm to cooperating brokers.

As a buyer entering this Seller’s market, you may want to decide what is most important to accomplish. Getting an accepted offer on the house you want or learning that the 2 commission idea is a myth and settling for your second, third, or worse choice house. You can own the home you want. Be the buyer who everyone wants, and let the myth believers help make your offer look even more attractive.