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Melody, Home Buyer in Foothills

Buy-side vs. Redfin realty...any experience with their agents?

Asked by Melody, Foothills Fri Aug 31, 2007

Do they seem to competently give advice on offers, etc? How is their negotiating clout? We're in Los Angeles.

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I am a Realtor and have received calls from Red Fin agents about listings, they have all been courteous and fine, mostly asking if we would accept an extremely low offer. I told them they could certainly submit however I doubt my client's would get anywhere near as low as they were thinking to offer.

I did have a client who asked me to be her Realtor at an open house I was doing. I spent quite a lot of time showing her and her husband homes and sending her info about homes not on the market and upcoming homes and she was dying to see an home that was a pocket listing. I asked her to sign the Buyer Broker Form before I showed the home to her and she refused. I wouldn't show her the home and she finally told me she was working with Redfin and they told her to find an agent to show her listings until she found one and then to call them and they would write the offer. I still didn't show her the home, wished her luck and left. It's another reason the Buyer Broker form is so important.
6 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Rebecca pointed out one of the main problems of firms like Redfin. They are blood sucking parasites. They try to get their customers to sucker an unsuspecting buyers agent into spending her time and her gasoline doing THEIR job so that they can concentrate on volume - leaving the agent who did all the leg-work in the red. Customers who think this is Ok are also blood suckers. I can't be kind about this. Sorry, but my time is money and I have a right not to have someone abuse my time in that manner. Customers who do this KNOW what they are doing. They understand that the agent they are tricking into showing them homes is going to get squat so they can get a kick-back. Pure selfishness and greed - that's all it is. Please note that I am known for working with my clients for MONTHS to find just the right home. I often put in well over 200 hours before we get to contract. All I ask of my clients is that the BE serious. If things don't work out that's OK, but don't ABUSE me if you have no intention of following through - or plan to let Aunt Sally close the deal. Generally by the third set of showings I make sure I have a buyer's agent contract to protect myself.

Redfin is a flash in the pan. This type of operation is there for one reason and one reason alone. To make money fast and get out fast. It's a get rich quick scheme for its CEO that relies heavily on the current model of compensation to remain in place in order for it to survive. It's entire model does two things:

1) Foists the leg-work onto non-suspecting buyers agents and Listing agents while trying to collect the same amount of money from the seller in order to give a kick-back to the buyer.

2) Leeches off a system that is dominated by full-service agents where the prices reflect FULL SERVICE.

How does it create extra work for full service agents: By telling buyers to find an agent to take them from house to house with no intention closing the deal for said agent is the most egregious. For the listing agent, it is more subtle. The Redfin agent never visits the home and is probably not LOCAL. They don't know inventory and they don't know the condition of the property in question. That makes negotiations hard. They also won't do the inspection with the buyer, they won't work with lenders etc. etc. In short they will do practically NOTHING to earn that check while pushing all the leg-work that the buyers side does on the LA.

Why does this ensure their demise? If they become popular enough to be at all significant, full service agents will retaliate. I for one, would not take anyone out without and buyer's agent CONTRACT - even once - if this became a big issue - I'm sure everyone would protect themselves the same way - choking off access to full service agents. On the listing side, the LA would offer a smaller and smaller co-op in order to make the kick-back less attractive and to compensate her for the extra work of acting as a partial seller's agent.

In the end, their "model" disintegrates because the supply of free labor and the juicy co-ops are choked off.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
Sorry I've been away so long...thanks for all your answers!

Rebecca-I'm sorry about your experience...that's just so wrong!

It appears that many of you have misinformation as far as these companies: Redfin, for example, does have agents in each area that they service and they give you 1 3-hour tour for free, and if you want to schedule more listings, they charge about $225 (I don't remember precisely) for each 3 hour tour after that.

Also, when I called for information, they emphasized that they recommend using their own agent to tour properties, but if I wanted to visit with someone else to make sure I am clear and honest about my planning to use Redfin as my broker's agent. It sounds like that hasn't always been people's experiences (re: Rebecca), but considering that they really emphasized the honesty aspect, I'm wondering if they've changed their policy.

In addition, Patrick earlier posted a run-down on what a buy-side agent might earn on a sale as detrimental to motivation. However, this is based on a misconception: both buyside and redfin pay their agents a salary with bonuses for customer satisfaction.

I have more to write, but my family needs me right now.

Thanks again,
4 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 3, 2007
I don’t’ usually care about discussions about discount brokers. As my office agents say - discount brokers come, discount brokers go, and they are always going to come and go; but we have been here for a hundred years and we are still number one; so don’t waste time talking about it. And we don’t.

Truth is, if there is no false nor misleading advertising, and if what they do benefit the consumers, then I am all for it. But real estate transactions can be so complicated without meaning to be – just look at the latest question about the NOT ‘3 year new roof’. Also, if they are comparing apples to apples, not apples to oranges, or if they live up to what they promised to do; who am I to say that’s not right?

However, all these discussions made me curious. As I never heard of Buyside (sorry, Phil); so I went and checked out Phil’s website. Here is the summary I gathered from their site: - I must have too much time today.

First, I found out Buyside is not the traditional Buyer’s Agent, but an online agency where you deal with your agent via phone, fax, email, but not in person; almost an virtual agent. Here’s the rest:

* Listing price has to be at least $200,000 to keep Buyside profitable. If buyers want to purchase a property listed less than $200,000; don’t’ go to Buyside

* Buyside is an Online Agent; which is an online service but not a specific agent. Only self-directed buyers can use Buyside. (This is a really interesting term, once you read more about what it is and what it omits to mention, you get a feel of the degree of ‘Self-Directed)

* Buyers register online and are ‘assigned’ an agent to work with. The assigned agent is available via phone, fax and email; not in person.

* There is 24x7, 877 toll free number for customer service (none agents) to help you USE the Website. The same 877 number can route you to your assigned agent or to schedule a time to talk to him or his backup agent

* Buyers look for houses themselves, and then either email or fill out an online form asking Buyside to either ask the listing agent to show the house to them or find out open house time so the buyer can go and see the house themselves

* A couple of sections mentioned how to print out and bring Buyside business cards, so Buyside does not lose commission

* Buyside wants clients to be pre-approved when asking listing agent to show a house to Buyside buyers; not because it’s easier for the clients to be accepted when making an offer, but because it presents a better image to the listing agent for Buyside because Buyside requires Listing Agent to show the house.

* Buyside agents are salaried employees with bonus. To me, there is two sides to the story – they either work harder to get the bonus, or they really don’t care because they are already paid salary – depends on which agent you are assigned to, I guess

* To make an offer, buyers will fill out and submit a form online. Buyside agents will then write up an offer according to what’s filled out online. They will put filled out contract for buyer to review and sign

* During process of offer, buyers go online to check on the status of the offer. If the offer is countered, the buyer will find the terms and conditions out online and the buyer submit an counter-offer of their own.

* Buyside will not accompany buyers to the homes nor at closing

Mostly mentioned system intervention, no emphasis on human contact, and/or intervention.

Now, here is the important part for me - No mention of discussions taking place. No mention of helping buyers to come up with CMAs (how do they know the Comps when they can be anywhere in the state, and probably not even saw the house or any house that’s on the comp – if they even do one?) No mention of advising clients of the kind of offers they should make. No mention of being with buyers during contract negotiation, counter offers, inspections, negotiation of repairs and credits, By reading the FAO and how it works, How about walk through? Buyer Agent Inspection? Or Liability afterwards? I don’t believe the clients even see the agent.

When I was reading through this, a lot of times it seems to me this is mostly a transaction coordinator’s job, no offense meant.

This is how I read what it is, unless i misunderstood, then my apologies.

If certain Buyside agents perform more than the above, Buyside is certainly not promising that, if any, would happen.

3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Here is the problem: WHO shows up for the appraisal? Who shows up for the inspection? Who shows up for the walk-through? I, as a listing agent can NOT leave a home unattended with an inspector and a client. An agent needs to be there - for the duration which can be as long as 4-5 HOURS - or half a day! So who gets "stuck" doing these jobs? The seller? the Listing agent???? These are all on-site legwork that swallows up a lot of TIME - including commuting. This may seem minor, but agents are running around in their cars all day long. We are always trying to get from point A to point B as fast as we can. That one "extra" appointment that SHOULD be someone elses job can be the straw that breaks another deal for them elsewhere. The problem is that there is NO MODEL where an agent who doesn't get off his or her backside, and into a car and to the property that does not in some very real way mooch off of the full-service listing agent and possibly a full service buyers agent. And that agent is "stuck." They have a fiduciary obligation to the seller - so they are FORCED to carry a lot of the water for the buyers agent.

A buyer rarely finds a house by themselves without some help from the full-service sector. Whether it be sending listings, running comps and pricing, or showing their own listing. To do this all by youself means that they spent months going to open houses! Even then, you can't possibly cover the entire inventory that way. If you truly want to be "fair". THe Kickback to the buyer should be about 1/3 not 2/3. 1/3 should go to the listing agent, 1/3 to the buyers agent and 1/3 to the buyer. But then it wouldn't be that worthwhile for the seller...would it?
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
I believe there is room in the world for all types of buisness as there are people in the world who will use all types of buisness. I am mainly a listing agent, but will work with buyers. As a full time professional Realtor in my area, I know other Realtors, I know the inventory, the area, even the Sellers.of properties listed with other agents. I am fully involved in my community. I know about properties coming onto the market and I know about properties that are for sale but will never be on the MLS. I know WHY Sellers are selling and so I know their motivation. I know how to get an offer accepted with the seller and with the other agents who also know me and want to work with me. I know what streets are better than others and why, I know environmental issues, city issues, crime, etc. Buyer's who work with me or agents like myself end up with a much better deal than getting a 20% rebate on 2.5%. I have saved clients hundreds of thousands by knowing what is going on, knowing the properties, knowing the potential problems and helping them through it all. Most people don't buy and sell enough properties in a life time to become experts at it. It is not a "do it yourself" type of job.

I too believe discount Brokers will disapear.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
BRAVA, Ruthmarie! Now tell us how you really feel! Don't hold back!

And Patrick, excellent tactic, I will remember that one.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
I should qualify the answer...and apologize for any misconceptions. Some discounters are fine. I was talking specifically about the Redfin model because for its model to work, it relies on the exploitation of free labor from full-service agents. As long as the discounter holds up their side of the transaction and doesn't sponge off other agents, I don't have a problem. The fact that redfin agents TELL their customers to find an agent to show them homes is disgraceful.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
I doubt this is usually the case.
Flag Mon Aug 17, 2015
Hi All,
It seems we've touched a nerve here! I got an offer on one of my listings from a Redfin agent. My listing
had been on the market for over a month, and it was nearly a full price offer. Great for my sellers, but had
I represented the buyers, I would have negotiated a better deal for them. The Redfin agent also had her poor 1st -time buyers pay for all inspections, and take the house "as-is"(!) Why?! There were no other competing offers?! Note to Rebecca; these buyers had come into my open house unrepresented, so technically I showed them the property. However, these poor saps thought they'd save money getting the Redfin rebate! Since I don't "double-end", I would have referred them to an excellent, ethical full-service agent, but...The Redfin repeatedly asked me to do her job for her; asked if I could be there for her buyers inspections,as she was "unable to be there", asked if I could let her clients in for the walk-through, asked if I could deliver the keys to her clients at closing, etc, etc...
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Home Inspector... Bah Humbug!

The Realtor is really more the seller in a transaction than the seller is.

The seller has a duty to disclose what they know about the property. Inspectors are necessary also for disclosure purposes but the AGENT is required to do a competent and dilligent visual inspection of the property. Of course we can't disclose that which is beyond the scope of our license, we are required to disclose that what we see that might be a "red flag."

realtors ultimately answer to disclosure and or non-disclosure issues when they arise.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
I appreciate your input. My sellers aren't passing up anything. All my listings are sold except one. And it is close to selling. When someone helps you online and the agent never even goes to see the property, you are going to have problems in the escrow. How will a Redfin agent do a Competent Visual Agents Inspection if they never visit the property?
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Ruth asked:
JR and Rebecca: If the typical homeowner upgrades every 5 years and buys their first home when they are 24 year old, by the time they are 40 years old, they have done 7 transactions (buy & sell). How many transactions does an agent have that just spent 2 weeks getting their real estate license?
What? :)
Don't understand your question. You mean their first transaction? Hopefully they have an experienced agent or broker helping them. My first transaction was very difficult. I had a "stalker" stalking the seller. She kept asking to see the home oever and over and called the seller again and again. She was unqualified and was threatening to report me for not allowing her to see the home over and over (on the client's orders).

I have only owned 2 homes in my life, so I guess I'm not typical! :) I will say though, that if I only did a deal every 5 years, there would be a whole lot I'd have forgotten about the procedures. There are also different problems that come up. I had a smooth closing on my own first home, the second was not so smooth. Every deal I do is different. Every buyer is different. In this market a seller needs a good agent because the buyers, at least where I am, are just plain strange. Arrogant, "educating" me as to what the market is doing before they put in a 20% less offer, refusing to give me the information I need to present that offer (name, addy, attorney's name, etc).
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
You are operating under flawed logic, Phil. You've set up a straw man, the agent who lists a home and "waits" for a buyers agent to come along and sell it, and then knock him down. I can't speak for every listing agent, but this agent does not just input a home into the MLS and then put my feet up waiting for someone to come along and sell it. And I'm not protecting my own interest here, I'm telling it like it is.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
I would just like to clear the air a little and answer many of the false statements that are being written about our services so everyone can be clear of exactly what BuySide Realty does and is about.

What we do is offer a service to self-directed homebuyers, while recognizing the fact that there still is a market for the traditional broker. We are simply offering the consumer a choice, and I ask, "What is so wrong with that?"

Clients such as Ruth are doing their homework, researching properties and comps themselves online, and targeting the property they want and basically the price they are willing to pay on their own. We then help facilitate all the paperwork, work with the client to fill out the contract, disclosures, etc, and negotiate with the listing agent on the client's behalf. After an offer is agreed upon we work with the lender, attorney, and title company to guide the transaction through closing, just as a traditional agent would. All the while we upload all the documents pertaining to the transaction to the client's account, so that at any time they can quickly view and print out a copy of the sales contract, inspection report, disclosure, or anything else they might need instead of looking through a file of papers.

It is absolutely FALSE that we dump all the work on the listing agent. I might add that that was written by an agent who has NEVER worked with us, so honestly I don't understand how they would know how our service works. We simply ask that a listing agent grants access to the buyer, or arranges to have the seller do so, is 100% of the work (as other have stated) merely opening a front door? The truth is, most homes sell through the MLS, and there are certainly NAR statistics to back this up, so if an agent puts the home up on the MLS, and then waits for a buyer's agent to come by and sell it, then how are they earning their full 2.5-3.0% commission exactly?

So, if you would speak to any of our clients, they are absolutely happy with the service they received, while also being happy to receive a rebate for all the initial legwork that they did themselves. I also might add that most agents have had a very positive experience working with us, and that none of the agents on this blog that are tearing us apart have done so.

I understand that traditional brokers need to protect their own interests, but we are simply offering the CONSUMERS a choice, and we are very upfront with the service we provide.

Phil Rossi
Licensed Realtor®
BuySide Realty -
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Nicely written Rebecca! While I certainly accept the consumer right to choice, I believe that the vast majority of buyers and sellers are best served by full time dedicated Realtors.

The only part that I disagree with in Rebecca's post is that I believe discounters will remain in the picture. There will be some satisfied customers, and some within that group will have done well. There are and will continue to be buyers and sellers who conclude a transaction with limited or no help, and be completely satisfied, only because they don't know what they forfeited. But, there is room for all, and consumers have a right to choice. An informed educated consumer can make better decisions in their choices. I actually foresee the offering of limited service options within full service brokerage houses. Since many sellers and buyers start that route, but change over to full service, it will allow the conversion to happen with continuity.

Thanks again, Rebecca, for a very well written description of what you bring to the table. Too bad I don't have any referrals for you in Palos Verdes, but I will keep you in mind for future reference.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Patrick writes: So If you just tour homes and don`t buy any or even if you do buy. it will still cost about $225. for each additional three hour tour?

Dosn`t that give the buyer a big incentive to just use another Realtor, and discard them?
" Hey Honey, I got a Idea on how we can save $225."
I had to smile when I read this. Let's see how Redfin reacts when people try to do to them what they are trying to do to us: take the money we use to put a roof over our head and feed and clothe our families out of our pockets.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Phil, you aren't addressing the other half of the issue. What these models are doing is foisting a lot of the additional work onto the listing agent - pure and simple.

1. You can't tell me that you go to broker's open houses and preveiw properties on a regular basis. If you don't, (and I have YET to see any discounters appear attend any of these) how do you ever negotiate a price or understand the condition of the property? Also, the volume of transactions required to make ends meet for each agent means that they might be somewhat local, but they have to cover far too large a geographic area to even begin to understand the nuances of each neighborhood. There is absolutely no other way you can function and make a profit, but how does this benefit the buyer? The answer is, it doesn't.

2. What happens with inspections, walk throughs, problems with lenders? All of this is labor intensive and is generally graciously DUMPED onto the listing agent - who does it only because her fiduciary obligations FORCE her to do a job YOU are supposed to do. That rebate should go in part to the LISTING AGENT who is doing YOUR JOB.

3. Trying to slither around and say that we are all trying to double-end deals is just plain disingenuous. Dual agency is even illegal in some places, but it is also fairly rare. You know as well as I do that with the sheer number of agents out there it is very unlikely that anyone double-ends a deal. However, when working with someone like you, the agent is doing the WORK of double ended deal without receiving compensation - so perhaps you really meant that the agent was whining about working for free.

4. Makes things more "affordable" - please...let's get real here. The commission saved is a drop in the bucket compared to the expense of purchasing a home. On a $500k home with a mortgage of 6.5% the money saved is about $65/month on the mortgage IF the co-op is actually 3% which on purchases of this size, it often isn't. Around here the savings would be less - about $45/month. Assuming a 10% downpayment....the home owner is roughly paying over $2900 a month at 6.5% fixed. That's about a 1.5% difference in monthly mortgage payment. These are hardly compelling numbers. The buyers just want the CASH - cash that someone else - the listing agent - probably earned because she was doing the legwork of two people.

5. You also skirt over the issue that all of these models really depend on and mooch off of the full service model. If that goes down the drain - so do you. In fact, you seal your own demise because listing agents and full-service buyers agents will simply protect themselves through the use of EBAs and LA's will just lower coops to the point that there is nothing left to rebate.

* All discussion of rebates and commissions is purely for educational purposes.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
THANKFULLY, we have EXCELLENT LAWS THAT PROTECT OUR REAL ESTATE CONSUMERS HERE IN OREGON - both of these models are ILLEGAL here, so neither do business in our state. Won't be long, and other states will pass similar consumer protection laws.

Ruth... you make a point about not judging all agents against a few bad apples. I fully agree. But we're talking about a business model. And this state has decided it encourages too much potential to do harm to the consumer. And we all KNOW you are the biggest advocate for the consumer :)
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
Sheila and Dave,
I am in California, where showing someone a property does not hold up unless you have the Buyer Broker form signed..So buyers can use several agents time to see homes and then use another agency to write the offer. I don't know if this is different in other states.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
Can you answer the same questions?

I've seen them come and I've seen them go.

Doesn't affect me and it is not a protest.

Just don't agree with their business model.

I have to live with it but I do not have to agree with it.

Home buyers deserve the best representation available.

They do not have to accept less. The proof will be in the puddin.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Thanks for your answer, Ruth.

Ed-- It seems sort of sad to me that, even in this market, your sellers are passing up potential buyers because you heard some rumors that may not be relevant to the buyers wanting to see your houses.

Any other experiences/specifics (good or bad) that others have would also be appreciated:)

2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
BuySide was absolutely AWESOME.
Please read my post here:…
Especially YOU ED!!!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
Thought I would post what has recently happened in our MLS (Northwest MLS) with Redfin. To date it has been the largest fine implemented by our local MLS. There have been lots of MLS rules broken by Redfin in our area and it is starting to catch up with them. Those MLS rules are there to assure a certain standard of business conduct. Here are the details on the most recent offense...

Company: Redfin Corp.
Designated Broker/Branch Manager: Kevin Broveleit
Agent: Kevin Broveleit
Rules Violated: NWMLS Rule 27 (Republication of Client Handout and Public Open House Database), Rule 28 (Subscribers “Framing” of Members’ Sites), Rule 183 (Transmitting Proprietary NWMLS Information to Non-Members), Rule 190 (Advertising Another Member’s Listings), and Rule 192(d) (Ownership of NWMLS’ Listing Photographs)
Summary of Complaint: Company advertised other members’ listings without their permission, republished data taken from NWMLS download in newsletter and blog, and disclosed address of listing input into NWMLS as an undisclosed address.
Penalty: $25,000 fine.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 21, 2008
Another response to Phil....I am sure your customers are satisfied. They got a nice chunck of money back and feel they beat the big bad real estate agent at their greedy game. They might well be satisfied with your legwork, but WHO did the legwork? My guess is the LA did a lot more because you can't.

It might surprise people that as a buyer's agent in my area (and I am full service) I often walk away from the table with less than 1% of the sale GROSS. For a condo that can be about $2-5 k and for a co-op that can be LESS than $1k. Some of this has to do with brokerage splits - I haven't been around long enough to negotiate a great split with my broker - but a lot of this is the downward pressure on comissions from discounters. I have gotten to the point where I will have to decide just how much service I can provide for so little money. I've run into situations where I am making less than $6/hr. I may have to establish limits to the number of showings, and "fire" those who can't seem to make up their minds within two -three tours. If this trend continues, the days of me showing 30 homes before I get an offer are going to be over. I can't make a living that way - and that's a shame. It is in good part due to the discounters forcing full-service to discount as well. So be careful...all the freebies that discounters depend on may well be a thing of the past before too long.

Bottom line: the public WANTS a ton of service and they have gotten used to it being FREE. But they are not above manipulating agents to provide them FREE service while using a discounter to close the deal.
If you really think that people will pay for showings when they can try and mooch off a hard-working full-service agent, you are really smoking something you shouldn't.

At the end of the day, the current discount models can't really exist without the full service sector. They really need full serivce to fron the money for the buyer's side, do the legwork they won't do and know the neighborhoods better then they do. That is why I don't have a lot of respect for them. If they came up with a better mouse trap on their own, but didn't rely on the underlying full service structure, these models wouldn't bother me.

* All discussions of commissions, remuneration and splits are for educational purposes only.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Hi Ruth, you say "if you want to do something right, do it yourself..". Judging from some of the questions from sellers, I would ask: how can you do something right if you have no idea how to do it? Well, easy, ask an agent on Trulia or some other website to share with you how to sell a home. LOL on us, huh?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Some local agents have started to list commission exceptions on the MLS. 3% commission except for RedFin, Help U Sell, Assist to Cell, Catalyst, ZipRealty commission to be 1%. Apparently this is legal per our RE attorney as long as it specifically mentions the Brokers excluded from full commission on the MLS. They are doing this because in many cases they have had to do 100% of the work but still only got paid 50% when dealing with some of these agents from these companies. Unfortunately it penalizes those agents that actually do their jobs, but I can understand where they are coming from. I don't know if the listing agents get paid 5% or they "rebate" the 2% back to the seller who was paying it in the first place.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
I was excited to see Phil's name. He was my agent with BuySide last year. I did not email him or BuySide about this thread.

His post is a testament that Phil cares about what he is doing as much as anyone else on this forum. I don't know if he's being paid hourly to be an agent and talk to the papers and read the forums; or if things were slow and he happened across it; or if he searched it out. I've only seen a few Chicago agents participating and it's reassuring to see my former agent as one of them. I've emailed other full service Realtors® I've worked with about this forum and have yet to see them participate. Some I interviewed to hire as my listing agent and I want to see how they handle some of these tough questions. It doesn't matter how or IF a Realtor® is paid, as long as they are doing a fantastic job for their clients, their industry, and the public. (My only complaint about BuySide is how slow some pages on their website are. Same problem with Baird & Warner's website. I don't have these problems with Trulia, or so I know it's not my computer.)

Months ago, when I was disturbed with my former full service agency, I searched for help from the Board of Realtors. I happened across the Redfin issue and was shocked by the NAR's comments "defending" (my word not theirs) Redfin? Stephen Cook, VP of the NRA, wrote to 60 Minutes, "NAR supports all business models and favors none." Official NRA statements included, "Our 1.3 million members include REALTORS® who work on a full-service basis, as well as those who consider themselves to be limited service, fee-for-service, minimum service, and discounters. We think it's great that consumers have a choice today."…

I had watched that May 13, 2007 airing of 60 Minutes and was angered by the "conspiracy" (again, my word not theirs) of REALTORS®. It occurred the same time as when I was working with both discount and full service REALTORS®. While we were still finishing the renovations on the house, and even though I had already chosen my future full service agency, I listed the home in the MLS for a two-week trial for $49 from Friendly Realty in Geneva, IL. Looking at just the first week of listing with the upfront cost, discount agency verses the first week with the local Oak Park, full service, back-end full commission agency, I received better service from the discounter. Gino Barrto and Patricia at were extremely responsive, diligent and helpful even though I had never met with them personally. My full service agents were high touch and friendly, but were they effective? I trusted the full service agents and I did not trust the discounters. I let the full service agents "run the show" as opposed to me "calling the shots" with the discounter. I gave both agencies all of my extensive information from my website and they completed the MLS forms, wrote the descriptions and entered the data on websites.

Over the course of months before and during the listing agreement, I worked extensively with my full service agency, getting to know them, looking at the competition, learning about current market conditions, viewing CMAs and fixing listing and advertising problems. They worked hard, very hard! They tried to do a good job and it is a difficult market right now. However, when an egregious error occurred with an agent (that I did not know) working my open house, I met with the Broker and we agreed to terminate our arrangement.

So, I took the house off the market for a while. Friendly Realty's location, size and marketing presents would not be the best choice for this home. I searched and the Trib for a visible agency. I found Prello Realty for a flat fee. Their office is in Chicago, which I believe is my target market and advantageous if someone is out of state doesn't know the burbs, even though no one will visit the office. They offered free banner advertising on Their listings with pictures showed at the beginning of searches, which Friendly Realty's did not. I called their office, acting as a buyer, to inquire about several listings. They gave me the owners' phone numbers and I called to hear if they were happy with the service and why they chose them. I was shocked to learn that no one said price. The sentiment was they had a bad experience with a full service agent and "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

This post was so long, I had to edit. I hope it helps with the entire process, whether you use a full service or a discount agency. Buying and selling a home is a lot of work and you have to look out for your own interests. There are lots of people that can help, but it is your job to find the right people who can help you.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558

The original question in your post is “Buy-side vs. Redfin realty...any experience with their agents?” Several of the responses chimed one common theme, and I have to agree, though ‘slightly’ biased. As you will find varying levels of quality in any service industry as in a full service real estate agent, you will also find differences in quality in the “rebate or discount” arena. Opening up different threads of debate from one question is the beauty of any blog and I applaud the responses. However, I could not continue to read without responding to the initial question as well as some of the other responses posted here.

The initial answer to the original question:

Caveat Emptor. I read it in previous responses and I believe it is the best answer for this question. I have no issue in saying let the buyer beware because we offer a great service with a different approach to real estate. Melody, you have taken the best approach already. Ask others. BuySide Realty is a model that represents the self directed buyer, who is prepared to do some of the work that a traditional buyer’s agent may do. The first and typically most time consuming aspect being the search for the right home. And according to the National Association of Realtors, 64% of homes bought yearly, are NOT found by a real estate agent.

Is our model for every home buyer? No. But we believe it is a great alternative for the right type of buyers. Besides, we offer our buyers the opportunity to simply change their mind if they feel they need more assistance from a full service agent. Please refer to: The last paragraph titled, ‘The BuySide Promise Gives you Peace of Mind to Get Started’.

As for some of the other responses from real estate agents, we encourage you to experience working with us. From what I have read, the responses from agents on this post have yet to work with BuySide Realty. Our approach is to offer a rapidly growing alternative from within the industry.

It is important to understand that we work very closely with listing agents to help successfully bring qualified, pre- approved buyers to their client’s homes. And of course, we comply fully with all state licensing rules and regulations in every state we operate in. Although I cannot speak on behalf of any other companies, here at BuySide we absolutely do not condone the practice of clients “using” a buyer’s agent to take them around and then coming to us to make an offer. We stress on our website that clients call us to set up showings on their behalf, and if they do ever contact a listing agent of a property themselves, to make it clear that they are already working with a Realtor. In fact, upon submitting a potential offer we specifically ask our clients if they have seen the property with another buyer’s agent, and if so, we do not submit the offer unless that buyer’s agent has signed off on the commission in writing.
And I must ask, is it in your client’s best interest to “click the delete key on your cell phone” when approached with an offer or an attempt to bring a qualified buyer to your client?

As for Patrick, I understand that you would rather the traditional agents receive both sides of the commission and do not want the buyer to benefit from his effort in finding his home. However, the money that the buyer receives helps make your sellers home more affordable. You know as well as I do that the rebate benefits all parties involved.

As far as our agent’s compensation, as was corrected earlier, our model pays our agents a salary with a bonus structure based solely on customer satisfaction.

Thanks Ruth, it was a pleasure working with you too.

Good luck, Melody with whatever decision you make, us or them, full service or discount, carpeting or wood floors. But again, asking first is the best answer.


Phil Rossi
Licensed Realtor®
BuySide Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 6, 2007
I can't speak for everywhere else, but in NY, the listing commission, and the buyer's agency commission ARE two seperate entities. Many buyer's agents accept what the listing agent offers, but, as I said in the other thread, a buyer's agent can get their "usual" feel, even if it's more than the buyer agent is offering, by putting it into the offer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 2, 2007
So, how long has Redfin been in business and what are their E&O insurance claims compared to the full service agencies?

Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

Unless you have facts or personal experience, you sound scared.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
Due to horror stories I have heard, I have started hitting the delete key on my cell phone when they call.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Redfin only had a handfull of closed sales in the Socal MLS last year. Not enough for one person to be considered a full time agent. I am not sure how they can pour the money they do into such an enormous area and no sales to offset the cost. Never heard of Buy-side.

IMHO, this is a relationship business, its about who you know. Reputation is everything.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 21, 2008
I have tried Buyside but have not been able to view a home with their service. I have tried twice to get an appointment to view 2 different homes and have gotten the exact following email twice:

"This is to inform you that your appointment request to view XXXXX has not been scheduled. We were unable to schedule because the listing agent is not available to show the home.

We welcome you to continue to use our site at to search for homes.

If you have any questions, please call 877-428-9743 and enter the extension of your agent or email"

Either listing agents in California are boycotting Buyside or listing agents don't like to show homes for the seller. How does Buyside expect buyers to make an offer without being able to view a home. Buyside seems to only be good for making offers on homes that are easy to access...i.e. new construction or open houses.

I would like to use Redfin but don't want to deal with that 2 home tour limit - once Redfin has free unlimited home tours, I'll try them. My coworker used Redfin and said its worth it if you know what you're doing - however since so many people are involved in the transaction, there can be miscommunication since there's not a single point of contact...from my experience, it seems that Buyside has the same problem since I've been communicating with different contacts as well.

I'll be trying ZipRealty so hopefully I'll get better service and still get some discount, although not as large. Either way. the model for discount brokers needs a lot of work but I think its a great concept given that the Internet is such a great tool for researching homes and real estate - you couldn't do this 5 years ago. Redfin, Buyside, and Ziprealty all need more competition to get better. Hopefully, more brokers see the opportunity here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 21, 2008
Just to add to what is required for an Agent in California; among other things:

CAR recently issued a new, very detailed, Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure (referring to California Civil Code # 1079 ET SEQ.) to be filled out by agent when a transfer disclosure statement is required or when a teller is exempt from completing a TDS

The disclosure states, in part, that: ”California law requires, with limited exceptions, that a real estate broker or salesperson (collectively, “Agent”) conduct a reasonably competent and diligent VISUAL inspection of reasonably and normally accessible areas of certain properties offered for sale and then disclose to the prospective purchaser material facts affecting the value or desirability of that property that the inspection reveals. The duty applies regardless of whom that Agent represents.”

It went on and gave detailed instructions on Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 8, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Thanks Sylvia for your review of BuySide Realty site. JR......great jargon (I remember the subcontracting jargon, too!).. I may borrow this one, too! Will give you credit for it!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 8, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
So Sylvia, shall we call people who don't use an agent SDBs? Self-Directed Buyers? Kind of like FSBOs? ;)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 8, 2007
Here is a link to a blog on Active Rain that pretty much sums up how I feel about this situation:
It points out that there are things that MUST be done ON SITE and that being a buyers agent means you get off your backside and appear at the property in question: If you don't, the listing agent often finds themselves standing and doing the JOB of the other agent.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 8, 2007
We do not have an active Redfin in our area so thate is not much competition. Also the buy-side is not active in our area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in Danville, VA
Patrick and Ruthmarie:
Phil was referring to a traditional listing agent and a traditional buyer's agent, not an agent being a Dual Agent.

I don't think the seller and I would have agreed on the final sales price if my bottom line was $8500 lower because I wasn't going to get that back from Buyside. I think the sellers would have sat on the property another two months and then had to lower their price by $10k and maybe not find a buyer then.

JR and Rebecca: If the typical homeowner upgrades every 5 years and buys their first home when they are 24 year old, by the time they are 40 years old, they have done 7 transactions (buy & sell). How many transactions does an agent have that just spent 2 weeks getting their real estate license?

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 7, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558

I re-read Melody's question before reading the additional responses. Do they give advice or negotiate?
NO, not really.
That is your job. You are getting the rebate for doing the work yourself. They can provide you with the information you need such as forms, newsletters and listing sheets, to make informed decisions.

So back to the "business model". Should the Real Estate Industry change away from the CURRENT commission structure? I asked this question before and unfortunately it got off topic in the end. We also have discussed Buyer's Agency Agreements. In the end of Diane's commission split debate, JR & I talked about the intent and usage of some of those agreements:…
And of course there is the common belief and complaint that if a buyer goes directly to the listing agent he can cut a deal for the buyer's agent side of the commission. And there are also problems with Dual Agency.

The there is Patti's excellent question, what to do when agents don't do their job?…
I think Diane's answer, "help them out for a fee" is the solution.

My conclusion, until listing commission and buyer's agent commissions are two separate responsibilities, you will have business models that work within the system that is already there.

One last note about protecting the consumer, laws and freedom of choice is an odd glossed over thread, Myth or Fact:…

Happy reading and debating!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 2, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
I agree with much of what you said and I can appreciate your passion. Let me summarize my various thoughts by saying:
* Redfin and are two different companies and deserve independent reputations not generalizations.
* Buyer beware
* The buyer is getting a kick back for the BUYER doing more work
* Buyer's agent contracts should be signed
* IL does have minimum service laws
* Buyside Realty started their business because the owner's thought the real estate agent was making them (the consumers) do all of the work.
* Read this thread on the topic as well:…

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
I agree with Patrick, "Bravo Rebecca" and "Rumors are one thing, fact is another. "
So don't let the negative personal experiences with Redfin taint your opinion of It's no different generalizing that all discounter are bad than it is to have a negative personal experience with a full service agent and say all full service agents are overpaid.

It was a year ago when I used While answering another question on this forum, I went to their website (which is very slow and inconsistent) to reference as news article. A newer article that I hadn't read before has a quote from a full-service agent surprisingly impressed by the BuySide agent who I worked with too. I know of one Century21 office in NC that has almost 75% turnover annually. So again, if you haven't read my "moral of the story" post on the question "who works harder" please do.…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 1, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
That is what a home inspector is for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
Ruthless, Other/Just Looking in 60558
I have had no personal contact with them at all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2007
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