What’s more, she says, she plans to press other firms to make the flat fee the standard, and is bracing for the push back the issue has sparked across the country.
The flat fee “is an industry disrupter and won’t be welcomed,” says Williams, who established the firm in 2008. “It is a touchy topic in the real estate sphere. We’re hoping [to inspire other realty firms] to give consumers another option.”
The firm says buyers’ agents will still receive a commission of up to 3 percent.
Williams says she believes that if the flat fee catches on, consumers will pressure other brokers to lower their fees. A seller under a traditional broker would pay $60,000 to his and the buyers’ agents on a $1 million house. Under her flat fee, that seller would pay $9,900 to Williams’s firm and $30,000 to the buyers’ agent, saving $20,000.
Laurie Janik, general counsel of the National Association of Realtors, says the organization has no position on the pay system.
However, Janik says, agents are justified in charging higher commissions because they need to recoup the money they don’t get for properties that don’t sell. “The commission model is guaranteed performance — you don’t have to pay me unless . . . this deal closes,” she said. Deals that “don’t close are subsidized by the deals that do close.”
Williams says the six-agent DC Home Buzz will continue to be a full-service firm, offering help finding houses, negotiating contracts, and staging and marketing properties.
She says that technology has reduced costs — many consumers are finding houses themselves online — and that she expects to make up for the loss of commission through volume business.
Straight outta McLean: The real estate rapper
Market’s heatin’ up, it’s no longer cold, houses gettin’ sold. Listenin’ to the news, read it in the paper — what’s above the fold? D.C. houses gettin’ sold.
So begins the rap on the one-minute, 36-second “Houses Gettin’ Sold” video. Real estate agents increasingly have been using video to distinguish themselves in this tight market. But the one by Brian Block, managing broker of Re/Max Allegiance in McLean, who calls himself B-Block, is among the most imaginative.
In the video, Block dons shades and a backward cap. He rhymes and gestures to the camera, while his wife, Deborah, shakes to the beat.
“Real estate is a serious business, but it can be fun, too,” Block says. “I was thinking about the number one issue in our market right now, which is low inventory. The word ‘sold’ kept sticking in my mind, and it rhymes with a lot of words, so I just started writing the lyrics to the song.”