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Toledo Legal News - News Flat fee real estate agents are another option for homesellers

 

Anthony and Jenna Andrews are among the latest real estate agents in central Ohio to a flat fee service for homeowners looking to sell.

The couple formed The Andrews Group last year (originally it was called Ohio Flat Rate Realtors but changed the name because of naming issues with the National Association of Realtors) and offer three distinct packages for homeowners.

Traditionally, homeowners who are successful in selling their homes have to pay a real estate commission of about 6 percent, split about equally between the buyer's agent and the agent who listed the property.

But real estate commissions can be as high as 8 percent in central Ohio, according to some real estate agents.

The Andrews couple launched under Plum Tree Realty brokerage firm.

Andrews said some sellers have a bad impression of the traditional model where some agents simply list the home and place a sale sign in the yard.

"We built a program working with how much help (the sellers) want," he said.

The Andrews Group offers a $500 flat rate package, which includes access to the Multiple Listing Service, real estate website listings and a lockbox attached to the door.

The agents also offer 2-percent and 3-percent commission packages, the latter of which offers professional cleaning service, photography and the agent negotiating the sale of the home.

Andrews said he hopes the higher end packages will help sellers improve their impression of the industry by going "above and beyond."

"That's what we're trying to change the perception of a real estate agent when they're selling your home," he said.

Flat fee listings are nothing new to central Ohio. Realtor Sharon Y. Jebavy of Broker Direct MLS Ohio has offered flat fee services since 2001. According to her website, Jebavy charges a listing fee of $499, which could save sellers thousands of dollars.

For example, for a home selling for $100,000, the seller would have to pay a traditional commission of $6,000. With Broker Direct, the owner would have to pay $3,499, or Broker Direct's listing fee plus the 3 percent commission for the buyers agent, a savings of $2,501.

Ohio Broker Direct, run by Joan Elflein, is another firm that has helped clients save money by taking advantage of the flat fee services.

Adrian and Andreea Dediu of Dublin said in an online testimonial that the company helped them save $9,000 after selling their $325,000 home. They paid a flat fee of $800 instead of a 3 percent commission.

"We did some work by presenting the house ourselves but it's really not that hard as people think, especially in a seller's market like we have now. The $800 is well worth it as it gave us access to MLS," they said.

On the other hand, using a flat rate service can create some risks. Sellers may be tempted to not offer a 3 percent commission to the buyer's agent, according to The Andrews Group website.

But the company stated that sellers must be willing to pay the 3 percent if their homes are represented on the MLS and other real estate websites. Buyers tend to use an agent to find homes and the agent may not show them if they do not get commission.

About 80 percent of all homes are sold through Realtors using the MLS, where listed homes earn a net proceed that's 7 percent higher than homes sold without representation, according to the NAR.

Anthony Andrews said he plans to hire two more employees in his firm, which recently listed its first $1 million property.

"We can really start ramping up towards the end of the summer," he said. "Right now we want to make sure we got everything in place."

BRANDON KLEIN, Daily Reporter Staff Writer

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