With homes now selling in six days on average, the world of real estate is stronger than ever. But how do you decide to put your home on the market? The options can be overwhelming—from finding the right agent to the endless online selling tools. But there is an all-in-one business ready to help guide you through the process: TheFlatRate.com. To learn more about how they make your buying and selling process easier, we talked with their team who shared how their platform can best suit all your real estate needs.
What is TheFlatRate.com and how is it different from other real estate agencies?
We are a licensed real-estate brokerage that offers flat-fee services instead of a commission-based model. This allows consumers to hire us for the entire process from listing to close, or if they prefer, to pick and choose individual services or packages. We help with consulting, media and marketing, contract review, negotiations, transaction management, and more. Every seller is as unique as the property they’re selling, and with today’s phones, they can take great photos and video themselves. Some sellers may be comfortable showing the house and negotiating, while others want us to handle every step of the process. Our model is based on flexibility.
How can you charge so much less than traditional Realtors?
Realtors and their brokerages work on an all-or-nothing revenue model. If the house sells, they get paid. If their client buys a house, they get paid. But unfortunately, many potential buyers never buy and often, a seller may decide it’s not the best time to sell or may choose to work with a different Realtor. In those cases, the Realtor and brokerage get nothing. After hours and hours of work, and sometimes thousands of dollars out of pocket for a listing that didn’t sell—there’s no income. That money needs to come from somewhere. We eliminate that all-or-nothing risk by charging a fixed fee for each service, paid as it is provided. We’ve based our model on other professional service providers like accountants, attorneys, and consultants.
What do you say to someone who is considering selling their house “For Sale By Owner”?
I say it’s a great idea. In today’s market, there is simply no need to pay a huge commission when buyers can find your home online without using a Realtor. That’s one of our goals—to assist and educate buyers and sellers on the process, without charging exorbitant fees. And if you need our assistance, we can provide all the tools you need.
Why do I have to pay anything up front with your company?
That’s one of the reasons we’re able to charge such reduced fees for comparable services. We eliminate the risk inherent in the traditional business model. Our clients don’t pay for services received by others.
What if my house doesn’t sell? Am I out the fee?
Yes, your initial fees pay for our initial services provided. At TheFlatRate.com, we are very upfront about disclosing all of our fees and risk. What many sellers don’t realize is that part of the traditional listing agreement calls for, on average, a 1 percent fee paid to the listing broker if the seller decides to cancel their listing before the listing expires. So, if a house doesn’t sell and you don’t keep the listing with that agent for the full term, you’re out far more than the small fee we charge. And in today’s market, homes are selling in six days on average, so your risk is very small.
Do you work with other Realtors and brokers?
Absolutely. We were traditional Realtors for decades before opening TheFlatRate.com. We understand the importance of cooperating with other agencies. We leave it up to the seller as to how much they want to offer to a buyer’s agent. Naturally, we’ll give our suggestions based on current market conditions and the specifics of their property. There are advantages and disadvantages across the spectrum, but we do fully cooperate with buyer’s agents.
What do traditional Realtors do that you don’t, and what do you do that traditional Realtors don’t?
There is nothing a traditional Realtor can do that we can’t offer. Our business model is based on your needs. Other Realtors aren’t set up to do outside the box transactions. You pay a commission based on the value of your home whether you need a service they provide or not. Another way we differ is our division of labor. We don’t expect any one individual, even the best agent out there, to know everything about marketing, media production, negotiations, transaction software, mechanical systems, etc. A traditional Realtor needs to be a jack of all trades. Each of our salaried specialists handle the tasks they were trained to do—complementing and building on each other. There’s no agent-to-agent competition in our office, only teamwork.