Excellence Comes Standard. Frankly Client Bill of Rights, From The Real Estate Gadfly

Gadfly,” 1) a person who upsets the status quo by stimulating innovation by proving an irritant. 2) any of various flies, like a horsefly, that bite or annoy livestock.

billofrights_01

First JetBlue left customers on the runway for 10 hours. After this disaster they came out with a JetBlue Bill of Rights.

Then a class action lawsuit was brought against C0ldwell Banker (Article) for violating RESPA laws for steering clients to profit-sharing “partners.”

Before there is a further disastrous out lash from consumers against Realtors, we must adopt a new standard. All shadiness needs to be removed from the industry and excellence should come standard.

FranklyRealty.com will start in Virginia, DC, MD and I envision shortly other firms will subscribe to the “Frankly Client Bill of Rights” throughout the country. This is not trademarked, go ahead copy me. You’d be an idiot not to.

Who will join us? Who runs a real estate firm that is willing to follow our lead and offer a new elite level of service and disclosure?

While I’m honored to be the first to come out with this, I’m also embarrassed at the same time that this isn’t already the default. Consumers might read this and say “d’uh, seems obvious,” I agree! But why is it that not one real estate firm in America subscribe to this? YET!

Introducing the Frankly Client Bill of Rights:

#1 No ABA’s, Affiliated Business Arrangements

We make our money on the commission, we don’t need to make a few hundred bucks steering you. No “One Stop Shopping” filled with partners filling our pockets. (blog on ABAs)

#2 No Admin Fees

These $200-$400 junk fees were invented by large real estate firms for both the buy and sell side. No more having clients sign confusing disclosures unknowingly. We don’t charge them, never have. (blog on Admin Fees)

#3 No Dual Agency

Dual Agency is ILLEGAL in some states. I wonder why? Dual Agency is when there is only one Realtor between a buyer and seller. A Dual Agency Realtor can not help both sides. So legally they are not allowed to represent EITHER SIDE, and instead “represent the contract” only. That makes the agent a mere worthless paper pusher. We don’t do that. We will only represent our client, the buyer OR seller. In the case where a buyer comes without an agent, they will be an “unrepresented buyer” (like a FSBO) and will sign a disclosure saying who we w ork for. (new blog soon)

#4 No TELLING you what to pay

We won’t tell you what to pay for a place. Ever! We won’t even answer the “What if you were me” question, since… We aren’t you! It is your money, and your risk tolerance. Instead of telling you a price, we will go over a ton of data to consider and conclude with our “VEGAS ODDS SYSTEM” on what the other side MIGHT do and separate it into three categories: Accept, Counter or Walk. Ultimately you decide how aggressive you want to be. (No “selling” blog)

#5 No Home Warranty Insurance Kickbacks

Even though it is illegal to receive a commission for selling insurance (unless you are a licensed insurance dealer), the Home Warranty companies have figured out a way to give agents and firms an “admin fee” of $60 to sell their goods. Why bother? We won’t accept that commission as we feel that is illegal. Instead we will pass that “admin fee” to the buyer/seller. This might seem like a small amount, but the principle is what matters. Again we make our money on the commission, we don’t need to upsell you to make another $60.

#6 No Buyer Agent Bonuses/Bribes

We outline our compensation up front in our Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement (Don’t Sign Them Yet blog). If there is a bonus to the buyer agent, the buyer gets that in a form of a rebate on the HUD1. We can’t be bribed to push you into a particular listing. (blog on 10% agent bribes)

#7 30 Photos & Custom Domain Name Website Per Listing

It boggles my mind when a $900,000 listing posts 3 photos taken with a camera phone (see Sucky Agents) and then wonders why it didn’t sell for 200 days. And this is from a “Top 3″ large company, not a “discounter.” They even allow agents to check a default button to allow the MLS to dispatch a high school photographer to take a free exterior shot. I call this the free drive-by shooting option.

Simple new requirement: Each listing must have at least 20 photos taken with a 22mm wide angle camera (like the v570) or from a professional photographer.

Each listing will also have their own domain name. No need to point prospects to “HugeRealEstateCompany.com” just to get lost looking at another 10,000 homes. Instead prospects can go directly to the photos of the listing with their own domain like: 2001OdysseyUNIT X.com

#8 Professional Staging

We won’t list a house unless we can make it look better than a model home. Why? It works. It gets you more money and the house sells faster. (See Bidding War blog). Just yesterday we got 3 offers in 3 days for $20k over what other Realtors said would be the seller’s top price (referrals available).

#9 You’re High Tech, We’re High Tech

How about 100% paperless transactions from start to close? No unnecessary “meeting to sign” papers or trips to Kinkos. We also use instant messaging, cell text messaging and of course email… from our phone. Prefer  paper? We can do that too.


Thank you for following Blog.FranklyRealty.com as we recalibrate the real estate industry! Sign up via for updates or email this to a friend.

Are you a buyer or seller? Print this out, have your Realtor sign the Frankly Client Bill of Rights? (Tell me how it goes)

Are you a Realtor with another firm that can’t promise the above? Then switch or start your own, maybe I’ll even help you!

Thanks for all the comments, keep em coming. And if you like this blog, please pass it on! Oh and tell me if you find typos, I don’t like looking dumb.

Written by Frank Borges LLosa- The Real Estate Gadfly

Virginia Broker/ Owner FranklyRealty.com

Blog.FranklyRealty.com Featured in BusinessWeek, CNBC, WSJ etc.

p.s. #10 As with JetBlue, we also promise not to leave you on the runway for 10 hours.

  • 6
  • March
  • 2007

48 Responses to “Excellence Comes Standard. Frankly Client Bill of Rights, From The Real Estate Gadfly”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do other Realtors hate you?

  2. Laurie Manny says:

    Bonus’s, Bribes & Kickbacks? What goes on in the real estate business in Virginia? OMG
    I signed up to follow this thread as this is going to be an interesting discussion…

  3. Kaushik Sirkar- Call Realty says:

    Bravo! This is the kind of transparency and integrity more Realtors should strive towards!!!

  4. Rich Jacobson Washington Realtor says:

    Not all ABA’s pay-out referrals or offer kickbacks. Some offer legitimate and valued services. We have an affiliated mortgage group. There are times when I may recommend our affiliate mortgage officer, along with several other choices, but I do not ’steer’ them deliberately and solely.

  5. Randy L. Prothero (R), CRS, GRI Realtor says:

    I refuse to be involved with any company who violates RESPA. I can’t believe there are companies and agents willing to put their licenses at risk.

  6. Lucky Lang - Iowa Realtor says:

    Frank,

    Just curious, how do you handle an offer to purchase or listing contract, seller’s property disclosure, lead-based paint disclosure, HUD statement, loan docs, mortgage, note, warranty deed, etc. with “100% paperless transactions from start to close”? It would seem to me that it would be as good as the paper it’s not written on.

    I like your thinking on the other ideas.

    Lucky :)

  7. Caron Mosey, ABR, WCR, e-PRO, Michigan says:

    Frank,

    Your guidelines very closely match those of our company, the Avalar Home Team.

    Way to go!

  8. Renee Burrows Vegas Realtor says:

    Frank when are you opening an office here in Vegas?

  9. Rob Robinson - Pennsylvania Title Company says:

    Well I’m all for it. I’m disgusted at the Realtors who use a Title Company because of an ABA , not because the Title Co. best fits the client needs.

  10. Joan Whitebook- Buyer's Option Realty Services says:

    Good for you Frank. I hope that more offices/agents follow your model. It is not just about the money — it is about properly representing our clients and being upfront and honest with customers. Conflicts of interests should be minimized whenever possible. See blog on disclosed dual agency.

  11. Miriam Bernstein RE/MAX Prime Properties New York says:

    I applaud you for this article. Thanks.

  12. Nick M. - Appraiser in West Palm - South Florida Real Estate Appraiser says:

    Hey Frank. Its a pleasure to not only see the bar raised, but to publicly announce it.. and expound on each point with its own post. way to go!! :)

  13. Rob Robinson says:

    I hope the Realtors using ABA’s chime in. I’d like to hear their side – and would have to believe quite a few on AR have associations and get % shares.

  14. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Rob,

    I have NO problem with reliable partners that can help you get the job done. Such as lenders and Title companies. I only have a problem when they give you back money directly or indirectly. It isn’t worth it, even if as one local company put it “we found a legal way around RESPA.” Yeah legal until a class action lawsuit is filed against your ass!

    Also a Realtor that is part of one of these ABA scams where the title company forms a new LLC every year to allow agents to have a few shares, he got a total of $50 last quarter. I said: “Is it worth it to get dragged into a class action lawsuit for $50?” His answer was “I can prove that my clients had a choice and many went elsewhere.” And to this person that has never been in a legal battle, I said “Great, you can spend $10,000 defending yourself for a $50 bonus, or you can drop the bonuses.” He said “Oh, yeah”

  15. Roger Stensland Brio Realty says:

    I agree with you Frank. As long as everything is kept both legal and ethical, I have absolutely no problem with reliable partners getting the job done for our clients. AS you point out, even if one weren’t inclined to be honest in the transaction, there is so little to be gained that that alone should dissuade people from such illegal and unethical behavior

  16. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Rob,

    You need to IMMEDIATELY start a campaign targeting those large companies. Perhaps call it, “Stay in compliance with RESPA, Recommend Rob”

    Or “Recommend Bertrum, Beat RESPA”

    The large companies are sh*tting in their pants. NOW is the time to hit them up and challenge them.

    Frank

  17. Diane Cipa says:

    Frank: You are right on as usual!

  18. Tchaka Owen- Lender says:

    Hey Frank,

    You and I have discussed Point #4 and I’d like to comment for all the other readers. From my understanding, you will not tell buyers what to pay, but you at least give them a ballpark starting point. Eg, instead of, “I’d offer $355k”, you might say something along the lines of “I can’t tell you what to pay, an offer somewhere in the $345-365k range would be realistic”. Am I correct?

    I ask because so often buyers have no idea where to start and while you don’t want to pidgeon-hole yourself, you don’t want to leave them hanging either.

    - Tchaka Owen
    http://tchakaowen.blogspot.com/

  19. Heather Saul Weichert Realtors Hoey Group New Jersey says:

    Frank-

    I am right there with you. The only thing that I would disagree with is personal websites for each listing. I have not found them to be cost effective. Maybe I am wrong, who knows. I like the upfront approach. Good work

  20. David A. Podgursky, MBA The Mortgage Go To Guy! says:

    ABAs… ugh…

    I hate even hearing them…

    The scam down here is when you have a LEGAL referral fee between licensees and the referring agent gets an extra small check because “Taxes were taken out”… what kind of work around is that?? Double Taxation dilemmas!

    I like the client bill of rights… it should be a good selling feature for you

  21. Kaye Thomas- CA Real Estate West says:

    Frank- If it smacks of conflict of interest it is WRONG and we all know it.. this applies to escrow companies, lenders, title companies.. etc .. Your Client Bill of Rights is simply the right way to conduct business, I believe that ethical REALTORS® treat evey client this way.

  22. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Kaye,

    So are you able to follow all 10?

    If so awesome. If not, just curious, which one?

    Frank

  23. Rita Taylor RE/MAX Real Estate Service says:

    Frank,

    The pictures thing kills me! For our local MLS, you can load up to 10 pictures for free! We have agents that do the drive by photos (you can usually see the side view mirror in the picture), agents that don’t take a photo, agents that use cell phone photos, the list goes on and on. We take 20-30 pictures with a 6 megapixel camera with a wide angle lens and use the 10 best. We put all the good pictures on our website. I agree that virtual tours can be distracting; we use a virtual tour that is more of a slideshow that allows us to get more pictures in. We do flyers and floorplans that some agents don’t do. Marketing the listing is one of the key things realtors do.

    If we fail to market our listings then what do we do for the seller other than fill out forms and take phone calls?

    Rita

  24. Kaye Thomas- CA Real Estate West says:

    Frank: We don’t use the Buyer Broker agreements in our area… I like the concept and suspect they will eventually make their way to the South Bay..

  25. Jon Boyd says:

    Love the bill of rights!

    One issue you seemed to have missed, or maybe the statues are different in VA. But, in common law and in many states if the buyer is in your office and the seller is in your office it is still dual agency.

    Here is a way to thing about it:

    The contract is between the consumer and the brokerage, not between the consumer and the individual licensee. The agency is determined by that relationship.

    Just like in a law office.

    To avoid dual agency and those conflicts of interest many brokers who feel like you do just offer single agency. They don’t ever have the buyer and the seller on one property in their office.

    Another thing that some purists do is exclusive buyer agency, (EBA). An EBA office never takes listings and only works for buyers.

    We are like that in Michigan at http://hbaaa.com

    Our national association is http://naeba.org

    Our code of ethics requires disclosure of fees and any kickbacks.

  26. million says:

    Frank,

    how about “not pretending to be a financial advisor by making comments like: it’s a good investment, instant equity, etc”?

    Thanks!

  27. Athol Kay says:

    The Vegas Odds system is wonderful. Simple, clear, meaningful and for what it;s worth, kinda fun sounding.

  28. Cindy Lin, ASP, CRIS, IAHSP SF Chapter Pres says:

    i LOVE it! it shows that you are really taking care of the clients and with their best interests in mind.

    cheers,

    cindy@staged4more

  29. Frank Rubi, e-Pro says:

    I am with you Frank. The client best interest should and will be serve. Fifty bucks does not do much for me to begin with.

    I fully agree with Client Bill of Rights. The picture thing should be a no brainier.

    Best regards,

    Frank Rubi, e-PRO

  30. Anonymous says:

    One more lame realtor trying to convince us that he’s one of the good guys. Where were you 2,3,4 years ago. I guess a 2007 that will “suck, all 12 months will suck”, brings out that integrity you’ve had under wraps.
    It’s time for all you clowns to head back to the used car lot, or Walmart. Call me, if you become employed and I’ll help you with a payday loan…
    realtors…what a joke

  31. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Anonymous!

    Thanks for your post. Wow, looks like somebody was burned by a Realtor. I grew up with a mother getting burned, so I know what it is like.

    Where was I 2,3,4 years ago? Well 4 years ago I didn’t have my license, but after that I was giving Tshirts out that said it was a bubble: http://www.tinyurl.com/2w3uhs , and the WSJ said that I was the first Realtor in the country that he spoke to that questioned the run up.

    I didn’t quite follow your “12 month sucks” example, but as per Walmart, that would be an upgrade since the Average Realtor makes $17,000 a year and the Average Walmart employee made $17,114 as per: http://www.tinyurl.com/2rufc2

    As for calling you, I’ll just call you bitter. Is that better?

    ;-)
    Have a nice day, but regardless, thanks for posting. And you probably thought I’d remove your comment. (heck maybe I posted it secretly to garner debate)

    Frank

  32. tchaka owen says:

    Posting anonymously is akin to wearing a sign around your neck that says “I’m a big [synomnym for cat]“. At least have the nerve to stand behind what you write.

    And I’m surprised you’d even waste your time responding to this obvious flame, Frank. Although I now know that if I don’t make it as a realtor, Walmart’s a better paying fallback!

    - Tchaka Owen
    http://tchakaowen.blogspot.com/

  33. million says:

    i have another good one…

    how about not posting ads on Craigslist about “North Arlington’s premiere NEW condom, The Odyssey.”

    condom? c’mon Frank. put the camera down and edit.

    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/rfs/288229568.html

  34. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Million!
    Too funny. Somebody is going to get fired for that one, and it isn’t me.

    Thank God that place is now under contract.

    See that was the secret hidden 12th rule of subliminal advertising. Everyone know that sex sells, so using condom to sell a condo makes sense!

    Thanks for doing a background check on me. I’m fatter, I mean flattered.

    ;-)

  35. Formfiller says:

    How about not blacklisting FSBOs and listings by discount brokers? How about not lobbying to remove public access to sale transaction info? How about genuine price competition?

  36. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Form Filler,
    There is a ton of competition. If it were a big boy monopoly I wouldn’t be able to conduct business. The MLS being open to everyone is the key.

  37. formfiller says:

    Baloney

    http://www.rd.com/content/real-estate-ripoff/

    I’ve had RE agents admit openly that they blacklist. And I guess the 6% commission happened by magic all across the country.

    BTW, I forgot to add — don’t manipulate the DOM for a house by relisting.

  38. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Actually NAR published that the national average is actually 5%.

    As for DOMP manipulation, did you read about it in BusinessWeek? That was from (in part) my blog and the information that I exposed to him.

    Also I just had a listing with 356 days on the market (long and blogworthy). I didn’t adjust my DOMP or DOMM once!

    And once I took over a listing from another agent that had it for 250+ DOM, the system accidentally reset everything to zero. I emailed the MRIS to tell them to INCREASE the DOMP back to 251, show me one agent that does that!

  39. million says:

    the thing i really really dislike above all else but realtors still publish it on every single flyer that arrives in my mailbox…

    “the seller pays my commission”

    that’s probably the line i hate the most. even worse than the “priced out forever” and “it’s a great investment” taglines.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Please, please recommend someone like-minded in CT. The agents I have met are uniformly slimy BS artists who quote Lereah (aka Mr sees-more-bottoms-than an OB-GYN) and have the IQ of oatmeal.

  41. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey Anonymous,
    Email me directly and I can find you one.

    What I’d do is go to ActiveRain and find a home stager and work backwards. A good home stager will know of a great agent that “gets it.”
    Good luck!

    Frank

  42. million says:

    Frank,

    What’s up w/ condos in north Arlington?

    Zoso is a rental now.

    1800 Wilson and Hawthorn had 25 and 35 units, respectively, returned at delivery.

    What’s next? Corus et al cut off financing to Palatine or any one of the several still-under-construction buildings?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Frank, a little birdie told that you’ve had nine transactions yourself in the past 2 years (most recent was Sept 2006, I hear) where you appear to have represented both the buyer AND the seller…hmmm. Sounds like “dual agency” to me…do you see it diff?

  44. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Hey “Anonymous”,

    I love it when people use “Anonymous” and “little birdy.”

    Are you a jealous agent or a non-agent with an agent friend?

    To answer your questions, YES!

    You got me!

    I did 6 Dual Agency deals in the past.

    But not since I implemented a new policy forbidding it!

    They suck and I vow to no longer do them, as it doesn’t help my client who expects me to represent THEM. Think about it. As the middle man, each side wants to ask you questions and you have to say “I am here to only shuffle papers back and forth and I can’t give you any opinions.”

    Meanwhile the buyer thinks you are secretly telling the seller things and they don’t trust you. Hell I wouldn’t trust an agent doing dual agency either.

    Again, in some states it is illegal… I wonder why??

    Frank

  45. Gary Herbst says:

    It is misleading, unethical, and fraudulent for a buyer’s agent working for a company which lists property for sale to call themselves an exclusive buyer’s agent, whether or not they use an exclusive right to represent buyer agency agreement. That agent is a non-exclusive buyer’s agent utilizing an exclusive right to represent agreement. This means that the buyer is locked in to using that agent in buying any home from any source, including a home listed by that non-exclusive buyer agent’s own company, which would lead to dual agency.

    Very good for that agent, not so good for the buyer. That non-exclusive buyer’s agent then stands to collect a double commission for half the work, while the buyer is essentially on his or her own to negotiate price and terms, and uncover any physical, functional, or locational drawbacks.

    The only way a buyer can receive 100% undivided loyalty and full representation and protection on any home without the threat of dual agency is to work with an exclusive buyer’s agency- a company which represents buyers only, and never lists property for sale.

    Gary Herbst, Exclusive Buyer’s Broker

  46. Adam Gallegos says:

    Thanks to inspiration and assistance from our friends a Frankly Realty we have created a similar guarantee for the clients of Arbour Realty. You can download our guarantee by clicking here:

    http://www.arbourrealty.com/files/ArbourRealtyUnconditionalGuarantee.doc.pdf

    -Adam Gallegos | Arbour Realty

  47. Frank, I love this. I have always worked this way. What is brillent is that you wrote it down and you are telling the world. I am going to follow your lead.

  48. Steven Strasberg - Rookie Phenom says:

    “If you lose money on a deal, we’ll help you out for free. (details coming soon)”

    Curious, what are the details to the “Profit Guarantee”?

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