FAQ

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  1. How can you Offer the same Essential Services for so much less than 99% of Real Estate Agents?
  2. You Get What you Pay For, Right?
  3. What is Centralized Showing Service?
  4. How will you market my Home?
  5. Will you show my Home?
  6. What makes your Flat Fee Plans better than other Flat Fee plans?
  7. Do you List Properties for Lease?
  8. Will Agents Steer their Buyers away from my Home because it’s a Flat Fee Listing?
  9. Why are Ultra-cheap Flat See Services a Perilous Choice?
  10. What if I’m already Working with Another Realtor?
  11. Can I List my Home without Paying Anything Upfront?
  12. Do you Offer a Similar Discounted Service for Home Buyers?
  13. What Optional Services do you Offer?
  14. What does Option Pending Mean? Pending? Etc?

1. How can you Offer the same Essential Services for so much less than 99% of Real Estate Agents?

We’re talking about fundamentally different business models.  First, about 99%+ of real estate agents are not brokers but are only sales agents working under a supervisory broker, who typically takes a 25-50% override of their agents’ commissions to pay for a fancy office with highway visibility, billboards, franchise fees, national brand awareness campaigns, etc.5sm

Most brokers don’t allow their sales agents to accept flat fee listings.  Even if they did allow it, their agents wouldn’t be able to make any money after the broker’s cut. They might even even end up owing their broker money!

We don’t have a broker to pay or report to – we are the broker!  We have created a highly-efficient business model without expensive overhead, redundant broker and agent commissions, franchise fees, etc. There is no reason a conscientious and experienced broker without all the costly overhead of traditional realty can’t provide the same or better results at a fraction of the cost – just as low cost operators have done in so many other industries.  We can and we do.

If having a hot air balloon on a sign in front of your house is worth $6,000-$10,000, paid out of your hard-earned home equity, then you’re just the person the traditional 6% agent is looking for.  If you are willing to pay $6,000-$10,000 extra for hand-holding and cappuccinos in a swanky office on a busy highway, then we’re not the right broker for you.  But if you’re the kind of savvy homeowner that would rather have the money in your own pocket, then you’ve come to the right place!

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2. You Get What you Pay For, Right?

This is the common objection of full price 6% agents.  They mean that you couldn’t possibly get top results and service for much lower price.  However, this objection can easily be turned on its head.

If you pay 6% for an expensive business model, you’ll certainly get what you pay for! You’ll get national advertising that doesn’t help sell your home, expensive offices that don’t help sell your home, redundant personnel that don’t help sell your home, etc. 6sm

The extra $6,000-$10,000 most sellers pay above our flat fee is an entirely optional payment to subsidize all the baggage of traditional realty (brokers, billboards, TV ads, fancy offices, etc).  We encourage you to interview a few traditional 6% agents and ask them what specifically they will do to justify their additional $6,000-$10,000 fee.  While you’re at it, ask them why they deserve to get paid double if an unaccompanied buyer calls them off your MLS listing.

Why do so many sellers voluntarily pay to subsidize all this baggage which does so little for them? We believe these sellers just don’t know that there is a better alternative available, but it’s only a matter of time before the word gets out and the public wises up.  In the meantime, smart homeowners like you have already found the broker for smart homeowners, Southern Homes!

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3. What is Centralized Showing Service?

CSS is the appointment service used by 90% of Houston full price listing agents and their clients.  Our seller/landlord clients receive this benefit at no additional cost!

137smBuyer/Tenant agents will request appointments through CSS and will often leave feedback for sellers/landlords afterward.  CSS will notify you by phone, email, or text of showing requests.  Once you approve the appointment, CSS provides showing instructions to the agent.  CSS will send you an email with the name and contact information of every agent who shows your house.  You will also be able to log on at showings.com to see activity reports and to update showing instructions and availability.

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4. How will you market my Home?

If you invite several 6% agents to pitch their services to you, you’ll hear a lot of hype about how they will market your home better than the next agent.  Maintain a healthy degree of skepticism.

Southern Homes markets your home the only way that really matters: on the MLS.  Any home on the MLS — properly priced — will bring qualified buyers and buyer agents.  No gimmicks required!  A good sign also helps, as many buyers frequently drive through their target neighborhoods. Finally, good pictures on the MLS, especially your cover shot, are also important.  While not necessary, we suggest you consider a professional photography package for a small additional cost.

What about Open Houses?  We will host one open house during the first or second weekend.  Additionally, you are welcome to host as many open houses as you want and we will publish every one of them on HAR.com.

Southern Homes gets houses sold as fast as any other brokerage without touting marketing gimmicks.  An MLS listing is the best marketing plan. Paying 6% for gimmicks is optional. 

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5. Will you show my Home?

Yes.  Just like a full-price broker (and unlike most flat-rate brokers), we will show your home.

Why?  Just like any local real estate agent, we would like to procure a buyer and earn the buyer agent commission!  Most flat-rate brokers don’t do showings because they aren’t local.  Based out of other cities or states, they run their businesses more like mail-order catalogs than local real estate agents.

If we procure a buyer, we will act as an Intermediary, with your and their written agreement.  When we facilitate the transaction as an Intermediary, we cannot give advice to either party.  We will prepare the offer, make sure the contracts are fair to both sides and that all disclosures are made and acknowledged properly.

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6. What makes your Flat Fee Plans the Best?

Not all flat fee brokers are created equally — choose your flat fee broker carefully!

  1. Results and Experience! Check out our recent closed transactions!
  2. Customer Satisfaction! See our approval rating and testimonials!
  3. LOCAL, personal service! We are LOCAL, while many competitors offering flat fee listings in Houston do so remotely, from Austin, Dallas, Denver, Timbuktu. We meet with you in person when we set up the listing at your home to answer all your questions. We have an office in the Houston area where you meet with us in person before you decide to list to discuss any of your concerns.
  4. Accessibility! We are accessible by phone 7 days a week to take your calls, and just as importantly, the calls from your prospective buyers and their buyer agents!
  5. Legit Sign & Keybox Installed! We will personally install a professional sign in your yard and a professional electronic keybox on your door, just like those at other homes listed by 6% agents.  Not tacky garage-sale-type signs.  Not cheap combo keyboxes that sketchy folks can come back and access later without you knowing.  Flat fee agents based in other cities and states will tell you they’re shipping you a sign, but all you get a polystyrene panel and you have to go buy a sign frame set it up yourself.
  6. Centralized Showing Service Included! at no additional cost
  7. No Deposits! We won’t make you pay a large upfront deposit for an electronic keybox, like our out-of-town competitors do.
  8. No Complicated Smorgasbord of Plans and Alacarte Services to Interpret! No Nickle-and-Diming you for every little thing!  We offer just 1 straightforward plan which covers all the essential professional real estate services.
  9. Exclusive Agency Addendum! Contractual protection of your right to sell to an unaccompanied buyer with no Buyer Agent Commission due.

We believe we offer the best listing deal for Houston sellers and landlords, but if you think a competitor has a better deal, let us know and we’ll match it or beat it!

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7. Will you List my Property for Lease?

Yes!  We can list your property for lease only, or we can set up 2 concurrent listings, one for sale and the other for lease.

We have a page devoted to For Lease listings.

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8. Will Buyer Agents Steer their clients away from my Home because it’s a Flat Fee Listing?

This objection is often raised by full price agents as a last-ditch attempt to dissuade you from using a competent, LOCAL flat fee listing broker. Every day, flat fee listed homes sell throughout the country, just like their more expensive 6% homes. Perhaps a handful of buyer agents might steer clients away, but there are thousands more who won’t even notice or care so long as their commission is guaranteed in the MLS.

First of all, our listings and signage are virtually indistinguishable from full price 6% listings.  On the MLS, we use our Southern Homes dba which is registered with the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC).  Nothing in our listings, signage, phone answering, etc suggests anything less than a standard full-price listing.  Nowhere does the MLS tell any agent what any seller is paying for a listing.

Second, we get the same (if not better) results as full price 6% listings. See the list on the right for examples.  Check our results.  In fact, we believe we get faster sales than 6% agents because our low flat fee gives sellers more flexibility (more money to work with in negotiations with buyers).

Third, the Houston real estate market is highly segmented and diverse with no concerted efforts to oppose flat fee brokers. Suggestions to the contrary are simply conspiracy theories. Flat fee listings are still quite unusual, off the radar to most agents. Buyer agents check MLS listings to make sure the listing pays a 3% buyer’s agent commission, not to black ball specific brokers.

To get buyer’s agents to bring their buyers, you need 4 things:

  1. A competitive commission offer to buyer’s agents in the MLS (3% is customary).
  2. Legit signage and keybox which the agents see when they show your home. You don’t want to raise any doubt in the buyer’s agent’s mind that they will have trouble getting their commission paid, doubts that may arise with a cheap sign or keybox that look makes the home look like a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)
  3. A reliable appointing-setting service so all interested parties can get in to see your home as soon as they are interested in it.
  4. A responsive agent who answers the phone and emails and returns calls promptly.

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9. Why are Ultra-cheap Listing Services a Perilous Choice?

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably seen the ads for ultracheap MLS listing services.  $150!  Only $99!  It’s become a race to the bottom.  We question how well these ultracheap services can provide all 4 things needed to get your home sold — especially #4:

  1. A competitive commission offer to buyer’s agents in the MLS (3% is customary).
  2. Legit signage and keybox which the agents see when they show your home. You don’t want to raise any doubt in the buyer’s agent’s mind that they will have trouble getting their commission paid, doubts that may arise with a cheap sign or keybox that look makes the home look like a FSBO (For Sale By Owner)
  3. A reliable appointing-setting service so all interested parties can get in to see your home as soon as they are interested in it.
  4. A responsive agent who answers the phone, texts, and emails, and who returns calls promptly.

Having a responsive agent is really important.  Ultracheap flat fee agents have to make their profits through a very large volume of listings. With so many listings, how much time can they reasonably devote to talking with your prospective buyers and buyers’ agents (or even with you after you’ve paid them)?

Consider this scenario: suppose you just listed your home for sale on the Houston MLS with Faraway Fred, a flat-fee broker out of Amarillo.  Meanwhile, Agent Alice is working with Buyer Bev who is interested in your home.  Because Agent Alice is smart and experienced, she always calls the listing agent first, before spending her and her clients’ valuable time driving across town to see a property.  Alice calls to make sure the home is still available and to find out if there are any contracts already on the table.

But when Alice calls Faraway Fred’s phone number, she can’t reach anyone. Alice leaves a message and sends a text, but receives no response.  Faraway Fred happens to be busy uploading photos for 6 new $99 flat-fee listings in El Paso, Atlanta, and Albuquerque, so he lets Buyer Bev’s call go to voicemail, and he doesn’t bother calling her back.  And can you blame him?  He’s already working for minimum wage practically and any more time spent on your listing after posting it will reduce his profits further.

When Alice can’t get through to a live person, she wonders if this is a sellable listing.  Alice thinks: maybe Faraway Fred is on vacation and won’t be able to present an offer even if her client loves the home.  Maybe Faraway Fred’s unresponsiveness is a sign that the sellers are not really motivated to sell.  Or maybe Faraway Fred is just one of those unresponsive agents that are so hard to work.  So, there’s a good chance Agent Alice will just skip your house and instead show her clients another home where the local agent answered her phone call.

Not all flat fee agents are created equally — choose your flat fee broker carefully!

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10. What if I’m already Working with Another Realtor?

This website is not intended to solicit your business from a fellow Realtor with whom you already have a contractual agreement.  You are welcome to contact us after your agreement with the other agent expires.

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11. Can you List my Home without requiring an Upfront Payment?

No. We find that requiring an upfront payment is a very effective way to separate serious sellers from those who don’t know what they want and don’t mind wasting our time (and their own).

Assuming you are serious about selling your home, we understand you may have reservations about being an early adopter of Flat Fee listings. It’s still a very new concept in real estate. That is why we designed our plan the way we did, giving you all essential seller services with only $500 due upfront and $1000 paid out of closing if and when your home sells!

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12. Do you Offer a Similar Discount Service for Buyers?

Yes!  Rebate Texas LLC dba Southern Homes pays our buyer clients 2% rebates on resale homes and 2.5% rebates on new homes, subject to terms and conditions. Like our service for sellers, our value proposition to buyers is the best in the market today!

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13. What Optional Services do you Offer?

While our flat fee listing plans include all essential services, occasionally sellers request some additional services which we can provide for an additional fee.  All of these services are entirely optional and will not be provided except at your request.  Payment is due at the time of service.

  • $100 – Duplicate listing. (If you wish to terminate a listing during the 12-month period and create a duplicate listing with new MLS number and reset the Days on Market count.)
  • $350 – Backup Contract(s).  If you receive a backup contract and want us to negotiate it for you, while your property is already under contract, we charge this fee.  Backup offers are rarely used.  This fee, payable for each additional backup buyer, includes all handling of the successful backup buyer through closing if the original buyer terminates and the backup contract becomes primary.
  • $150 – Listing Renewal: to renew an active listing for another 12 months when requested before the expiration of the initial 12 month listing period.
  • $250 – Revive Expired Listing: to enter a new duplicate 12-month listing when requested during the first 6 months after the expiration of an initial 12-month period. (After 6 months, a repeat listing will be priced as a new listing.)

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14. What does Option Pending mean? Pending? etc.?

The Houston Realtor Association MLS uses several terms to show the status of a listing. Agents have 3 days to update status.

Active – no offer has yet been accepted. Seller may already be considering offers.

Option Pending – the seller has recently accepted a contract and the buyer is conducting inspections during a due diligence “option” period of approx 5-10 days during which the buyer has an unrestricted right (option) to terminate the contract. There is a roughly 10-20% chance the buyer may back out of the contract during the option period. From this status, the listing will either go backward to Active or forward to Pending (without showings) or Pending Continuing to Show.

Pending – the buyer’s due diligence option period is over, but the seller is not allowing continued showings for possible back-up offers. There is only a very small chance that pending deals will fall apart and the listing will go active again.

Pending Continuing to Show – same as pending, but the seller is allowing continued showings for a possible back-up offer.

More info about statuses here.

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