Why Pay a Commission When You Don’t Have To?

I Only Charge for Legal Services. Brokerage Services are Free.

My fees are a fraction of what Realtors charge, yet my residential real estate clients receive the benefits of legal representation and they receive brokerage services for free. Whether it be listing a house on the MLS or helping a buyer purchase a home, I can provide better services to my clients and save them money while protecting their interests. I am an attorney and hold a Minnesota brokers license and have (reluctantly) joined the Realtor Association to gain access to the MLS.

Example

You want to buy a $500,000 house listed by a Realtor who is offering the “standard” 2.7% commission to buyer brokers. If you hire a Realtor to help you buy the house, they pocket $13,500 (2.7% of $500,00). If you hire me to help you buy the house, I collect that $13,500 and refund the entire amount to you. My typical fee is $4,375. You save $9,125 by using me instead of a Realtor. Why is this possible? Because Realtors charge far too much for the services that they provide.

Buyer Agents Who Tell You that it Costs Nothing to Work With Them are Lying.

Minnesota licensing law requires that all buyer broker fee agreements state that buyer broker commissions are negotiable (Minn. Stat. § 82.66). However, the Realtor Association buyer representation contracts include boilerplate language that allows the buyer broker to keep whatever the listing broker is offering them (including secret bonuses paid by the seller). In addition, there is a National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics standard that makes it “ethical” for a buyer agent to lie to their buyer clients that they work for free:

Standard of Practice 12-2
REALTORS® may represent their services as “free” or without cost even if they expect to receive compensation from a source other than their client provided that the potential for the REALTOR® to obtain a benefit from a third party is clearly disclosed at the same time.

The above standard of conduct is being widely used to deceive consumers that buyer broker fees are fixed and non-negotiable. However, because of the way the MLS is set up, the ONLY way to negotiate the buyer brokerage fee is with a commission rebate. I rebate the entire buy side commission to my clients. Here’s an explanation about buyer broker rebates from the U.S. Department of Justice, click here: Department of Justice webpage about the advantages of commission rebates.

Realtors Have Created a Fixed Fee Structure that makes it Impossible for Buyers to Pay Their Own Brokers.

It is an unfortunate and unfair reality that Realtors use the MLS to force consumers to pay for buyer brokers (whether they want one or not). The MLS allows Realtors to post listings ONLY if they offer compensation to cooperating brokers (buyer brokers). In the Minneapolis area, over 99% of coop fees are 2.5% or higher. If the cooperative compensation is not claimed, Minnesota listing contracts allow the listing broker to keep the entire fee. This makes it impossible for a buyer to hire and directly pay their own broker. If you are a buyer and want to pay your own broker directly, you are precluded from doing so without forfeiting the buyer brokerage fee to the listing broker. Your only option is to negotiate a rebate from your buyer broker.

Buyers Are Forced to Pay For Buyer Brokers 

Most buyers find the house they want to buy without a Realtor. Yet most consumers still end up paying for a buyer broker. “Do It Yourself” home buyers usually end up forfeiting both the buyer brokerage commission and their right to representation by trying to work out a transaction with the listing broker. My service is designed to help consumers avoid these problems.

Prior to the MLS, Real Estate Commissions were 2.5% or Less.

Before the Realtor Association imposed the rule that listing brokers had to offer compensation to other brokers, commissions were less in the U.S. A lot less. It used to cost approximately 2.5% on the first $40,000 and 1% on everything above that. In the U.K., you don’t need a buyer broker and commissions cost around 1-2% to sell a house.  An hourly employee drives you around to look at homes and when you’re ready to make an offer you hire an attorney to advise you and draft it. Only the listing broker gets paid a commission. My service is designed to help buyers recoup the buyer broker fee.

What Do Buyer Brokers Do?

So why do we force buyers to use brokers in the U.S? It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with a consumer need. Big brokers created this system and they have created some great myths to make you think you need a buyer broker:

Myths About What Buyer Brokers Do:

  1. Buyers Representation. If buyer representation mattered, then why does every large brokerage in town promote dual agency? Dual agency in real estate is when the broker represents the antagonistic interests of both the buyer and seller at the same time. It is an insurmountable conflict of interest that is illegal for every other profession. Since the broker is responsible for the actions of all the agents and the contracts flow from the broker, the law states that when the broker is a dual agent, so are all the agents. You can’t have one agent negotiating against another agent from the same firm. Here’s the law (Minn. Stat. § 82.67, Subd. 3, III): “Dual agents may not advocate for one party to the detriment of the other.” Dual agency used to be illegal and is illegal for every other profession (except under extraordinary conditions). It should be illegal for Realtors. Realtors are the least qualified profession to handle dual agency and they have the biggest financial conflict of interest (a double commission) to expose their clients to dual agency. This law is a travesty.
  2. Buyers need help with the forms. Do you really want a Realtor drafting real estate contracts? In Minnesota, you can get a real estate license without a high school education and only 90 hours of pre-license training geared towards passing the exam.
  3. Buyers need someone to let them in the door. This is only true because listing agents won’t show unrepresented buyers “their” listings unless they get to keep the entire double commission. Apparently they aren’t getting paid enough?

Why Do I Give Away the Commission?

I’ve started this service because I’ve had too many clients unfairly forfeit enormous sums of money to Realtors. As a consumer protection attorney who has spent his career fighting the corruption in residential real estate, it has been my goal to help clients change this practice one transaction at a time. I make a fair legal fee for my services, it just happens to be far less than what Realtors charge. I feel it is important to protect my clients’ interests, especially when it comes to forfeiting thousands of dollars at the closing table.

My Fees

I have a flat fee schedule for home buyers and sellers. The fees vary depending upon the level of service you desire. I only represent residential real estate consumers and I work with a limited number of clients. Let’s talk.