I'm moving.

by francine Hardaway on February 21, 2003


I’m moving. I’ve sold my old house, and it will close in a month. I’ve also bought a new place, and closed on it last week. I’m going to share my experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly, because you need to know all this.

Although a home is the most important purchase most people make in a lifetime, the process is usually a mystery. Most people just call a Realtor(tm), usually a friend of a friend or a relative, and dump the whole process on the Realtor. They pay a 6% commission and look the other way. Just as a reality check on what you are paying for customer service and professionalism, 6% of $250,000 is $15,000. If you pre-qualify for your mortgage, search for homes on the Internet (http://www.curealty.com) as most people do, make an offer that is accepted, and close the transaction without a problem, the Realtor may spend as little as ten hours on your transaction –and make $1500 an hour. Although that doesn’t usually happen, it happens often enough to give you pause if it’s your money.

There are hundreds of thousands of Realtors in Arizona. (Defined here as people who have gone to real estate school and passed a simple test.)Most of them are awful. I’ve had a license for over twenty years, and I would suck if I really had to handle a residential transaction. A good Realtor holds your hand through the process and earns his/her money. Many Realtors, however, are just the horribly nearsighted leading the blind.

The New Way of Buying and Selling Homes

All this is changing, however. One thing that has caused the change is the Internet. The Internet gives Joe Homeowner the same information the Realtor used to hold secret — the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

While early online real estate services tried to disintermediate the Realtor by giving home buyers and sellers access to the MLS, they discovered (too late) that the home buyers and sellers actually *wanted* someone human in the process. So the new ones engage with professionals and just automate the onerous tasks.

The best ones do more than simplify the process by allowing you to eliminate homes over the Internet; they also refer you to a participating agent who will give part of his or her commission in exchange for receiving you, the qualified buyer, as a customer. On the house I bought last week, I received a $6200 rebate — 1% of the agent’s commission.

I did it by enrolling my favorite agent (happens to be Bobby Lieb)in the CU Realty program. Then I bought and sold my homes through him. He’s happy, because he closes two transactions. I’m happy because I’ve saved a lot of money. I also found the comps for the home I was selling on the CU Realty site, which allowed me to understand the price Bobby suggested I ask for the house.

The CU Realty program is offered mainly by and through credit unions, but there is a retail site for people who are not credit union members and want to use the program: http://www.curealty.com. If you plan to buy or sell a home soon, you ought to get familiar with the site now. Register and look at homes; it’s fun. Find out what the comps are for you home and the others in your neighborhood; that’s even more fun. It’s like being a peeping Tom.

If you’re not buying or selling, you can still be part of the entertainment.To increase traffic to the retail site, CURealty has an affiliate program in partnership with Incentive Logic: if you refer someone to the site and they register, you get a point. If they actually go out with an agent, you get 25 points. You can redeem your points for gifts. Go to the site and register, and then click on membership rewards.

I say all this because I was stunned at how exciting it was to get all that money back on the transaction. Although CU Realty is a Stealthmode portfolio company, until I used it myself everything was pretty abstract. Now it’s pretty concrete; it paid for most of my moving expenses.

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