The Tools You Need to Fight for Buyer Brokerage Compensation

The Tools You Need to Fight for Buyer Brokerage Compensation

The Tools Your Real Estate Business Needs in Light of the NAR Proposed Settlement.

In the last two weeks since the proposed settlement was announced, agents have been wondering what the proposed changes mean to their businesses. While it will be a few months until the dust settles, the writing is on the wall and agents should be preparing NOW.

Although it is also important to learn from your local Association, MLS, and brokerage about standards of practice and regulations that you will be expected to comply with, below is a guide to the client process business tools that warrant scrutiny. These are the tools you will need to set yourself and your business apart in this new era.

We have broken this down into the tools you need BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a transaction and you will see there are tools for both buyers AND sellers.

Before: Your Website

Buyer-Centric Material on Your Website

We are often asked to evaluate current websites for clients who are just beginning to work with us. What we often find is agents are either relying on a page on their company website that simply includes a bio and a link to their listings or they have a simple website provided by their company with a few cursory pieces of information such as a small list of buyer and seller services. I ask you, if you were searching for an agent in your area, would you be impressed with your online presence and lists of services?

Remember, the proposed lawsuit now indicates that a signed buyer services agreement must be in place before you show your first home. Imagine a buyer has been getting ready to buy, has met with a lender, but hasn't really leaned into the buying process yet. A listing came on the market this morning that the buyer is drooling over and they are ready to go…but they need an agent to show them the home and to guide them through the buying process. They were given your name by someone a few weeks ago, but they are going to your website to see what you offer BEFORE they ever make the call to you. Is your website going to be doing any pre-call conversion work for you?

It is time to get that website into tip-top shape and showcase your buyer services, case studies, and your stats. Appealing to all the buyer personality types that are verifying you are a candidate that is up to the task begins at your website. You need to think of it like a very snazzy resume that tells your prospective interviewer some great nuggets of information before they ever talk to you live.

Before: Buyer Presentation

A lot of agents wing it when it comes to a buyer presentation or they rely on a few pieces of information from their brokerage, a lender, or a title and escrow company. That simply is not going to cut it anymore because you won't have the buyer tour time you used to have to warm them up and wow them with your service. You are expected to have the buyer services agreement in-hand essentially at the beginning of the first date!

You are going to be called on to prove yourself, sometimes at an initial meeting. And you are going to be asking the buyer to sign an agreement that is essentially asking them to pledge to pay you thousands of dollars for your services. If you don't have presentation materials that indicate what those services are, would YOU sign that agreement?

There are a few tools I am recommending all agents who work with buyers incorporate into their business plans immediately:

Buyer Presentation Agenda
This agenda will show that you have a plan for the initial meeting and are planning on talking about everything from how you help them get prepared, how to build their homebuying team including lenders, inspectors, the homebuying budget, showings, offers, pending to close, and to summarize your list of services.

Buyer Package
This is a robust hard copy packet of information that you provide the buyers that includes a summary of what you are talking about at the presentation, but it is something you can leave with them to peruse after that meeting. It should outline everything from the buying process, mechanics of building a homebuying team, information on mortgages, inspection, title, and escrow, information on closing costs, a transaction flowchart, possibly different offer strategies, FAQs, your bio, and more. While you may have some of this information on your website, the package needs to be even more robust and in hard-copy form. I know a lot of you like to have this information available as a pdf, but I will tell you it is the little touches like paying $10 or so to have this printed and bound that will make buyers more willing to commit to paying you thousands of dollars for your services.

Pledge of Service with Fees
Although this can be included in your Buyer Package, the benefit of having these on a separate handout is that you can use it as a prop in your presentation. It should be visually compelling and be packed with all of the dozens of things you provide the buyer when you are working with them. Your fee should also be outlined.

Case Studies
In addition to your Pledge of Service, I would have a second handout that outlined case studies, or examples, of how you have saved your buying clients money over the years or saved them from buying a money pit. I am sure you can think of three examples easily. Case studies are an easy way to showcase your value.

Before: Listing Presentation

You probably already have some sort of a listing presentation that hopefully includes an easy-to-follow listing strategy and doesn't just include a bunch of handouts from your lender and title/escrow company. If you don't, it is paramount that you make this a priority in the next few weeks. This, like the buyer package, should be something that is printed, nicely bound, and something that you can present from and leave behind with the seller after the listing presentation.

In this package and in your presentation, I recommend having the following sections depending on your business model:

House Preparation Strategy
This section discusses how you approach home preparation recommendations. Do you look for Listing Dollars? Do you make a room-by-room punch-list? Do you talk about weighing the benefits of listing as-is versus addressing deferred maintenance? Do you recommend a pre-inspection? Do you have a program that allows the sellers to pay for repairs at closing? Do you have access to contractors and folks who can do repairs and maintenance? All of these items go in a House Preparation Strategy section.

Pricing Strategy
Many agents simply rely on a CMA, but if you are taking into account additional market and local economic information, include information on your process. Also, do you have a time period in which you evaluate the listing traffic? Do you provide weekly reporting on how the listing is doing? Don't just assume sellers know your strategy – you need to show them.

Marketing Strategy
Here is where all your visuals get to shine! Include pages and information on what you do for photography, video, 3D tours, drone, print marketing, online marketing, agent-to-agent marketing, open houses, advertising, and more. This is where you get to allow the visuals to impress those sellers and build the case for your fee.

Buyer Pool Expansion Strategy
One of the key reasons you outline the above strategies is so you can now talk about how you are going to get more buyers to the listing. That may be offering to pay for an interest rate buy-down, an allowance to replace carpet, or, you guessed it, buyer brokerage compensation. In this section, I would include information as you are allowed to share market stats and case studies for how listings that offer low- or no-buyer brokerage compensation fare in the market when it comes to sales-to-list price ratio and days on market in order to support your business model. Be prepared to also show some math and how the Pricing Strategy directly relates to the Buyer Pool Expansion strategy if it does.

Again, having a prop by way of a package to guide the conversation is important. If suggesting that a seller offer concessions, you need to build a strong case for it. Relying on a conversation is not going to cut it.

During: Your Website

Can You, Within Your Website, Provide Additional Info on Your Listings?

The current proposed settlement information indicates that details around seller-offered concessions, including offers of compensation, may take place off the MLS. This is the big question that agents are wondering about. If you are able to post additional information, what information can you post…and where? Possibly on your website!

Now let's look at website functionality. If your website is simply syndicating information from the MLS and your MLS isn't going to have a spot that indicates concession detail, then that information won't show up on your website. If you bring a listing on, do you want a million phone calls from agents wondering about concessions offered? Probably not. That is why you should definitely be checking with your website provider about how you might be able to include additional information in a listing.

If there isn't a mechanism for adding information to an MLS-syndicated listing, is it possible to create a custom page on a site for a listing in which you can include this information or even a blog page that can be linked to the home page of your site? There is a lot of functionality here to unpack, so learn what you can now about your website's capabilities as we learn more about how the sharing of concession details is going to work.

During: Perform!

Although this goes without saying, with every transaction, your goal should be to create a raving fan base. That raving fan base will provide referrals. Referrals are an easier conversion than a cold lead any day of the week!

After: Past Client Campaign

How do you keep the raving fan base raving after the transaction is closed? By keeping in touch!

Here are some shocking stats from the National Association of REALTORS 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

  • In 2023, 75% of buyers said they would definitely use their real estate agent again or recommend them to others. Another 15% said they probably would. That is a raving fan base of 90%!
  • However, in 2023, only 13% of buyers indicated they used an agent who had previously represented them in a purchase or sale.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER 77%?

I can almost guarantee that most of those 77% of buyers went with another agent who was top of mind. In other words, the agent did a lousy job of staying in touch with their clients and the buyers chose someone else that was "lower hanging fruit".

If you have ever lost a client because you had no past client campaign or were relying on something as low-impact as an email newsletter campaign to keep you top-of-mind, that isn't enough to maintain your raving fan base and fill your pipeline with referrals. Maintaining a raving fan base requires you make ongoing time or financial investments that are high-impact.

Overwhelmed?

It is a lot to think about and plan for in a short timeframe. However, we can help with just about all of it!

  • Website Review and Recommendations.
  • Buyer Presentation Materials that highlight your pledge of service.
  • Listing Presentation Materials that highlight your listing strategies.
  • Past Client Campaigns that maintain your raving fan base.

What can't we help with? Well, we can't help you perform during a transaction. But if you are reading this article, chances are that you already care about doing a great job for your clients and you don't need help in that department.

Schedule a consultation with our team to review your current materials and learn how we can get you ready for the changes ahead!

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By Denise Lones CSP, CMP, M.I.R.M.
The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones has over three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development and more, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.