Dirty Little Secrets Behind White Picket Fences:

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly about all things Real Estate

The Red(fin) Scare May 18, 2007

If anyone was fortunate enough to catch the 60 Minutes piece on 6% commissions in the real estate market on Mother’s Day Sunday, you may be aware of the upheaval the piece has caused amongst the real estate industry. (If not, I am sure it is available on YouTube and through CBS ). Although I applaud 60 Minutes for having the courage to expose the American public to what is ultimately harmful and unfriendly consumer practices by traditional agents/Realtors, as well as the NAR in many cases, it only managed to reveal a small piece of the puzzle.

Redfin, a newer discount real estate company offering limited-service options, low fees, and rebates on commissions for both Buyers and Sellers, has caused traditional agents to yet again reiterate their old sayings and yet again to justify their high commissions (remember, here is where the disclaimer must go that all commissions are negotiable by law, or ELSE ). Meanwhile, Redfin is riding a tidal wave of success and exposure.

Yet, the model is not that new. Sure, there are some new tactics, but companies like Assist2Sell have been quietly offering lower commission fees than the national average (5.1% according to NAR on their website) for decades. And, the icing on the cake is that we are FULL-SERVICE, whereas many discount companies—especially those that are internet based only— are not. That is not to say they are not a viable business model, they just do not provide the traditional service many consumers expect to receive. Assist2Sell does, and charges about half the “going rate” (see above) to do so.

60 Minutes Logo

So, it would seem like a no-brainer to list with a company like us. I am not tooting my own horn here—it simply makes no cents to list with anyone else who charges more, or a discount company that charges the same, but offers less value and service. I honestly feel that we are the best value PERIOD; I would say the same if I didn’t work here. Plus, we have agents who are very, very good in our office. Think about it, our concept is simple: lower fees=more listings=more buyers=more volume. The average agent in NH may close 3-10 homes/year and make a very good living doing so. The Owner/Broker of Assist2Sell, Vivian Sarlo, closed over 100 properties in both 2002 and 2005. She was ranked number one in the area for closed sales during those years(excluding new construction) as well. The other listing agents in the office, myself included, typically sell 30-45 homes a year, allowing our rankings to be in the top 5% of closed sales within the area. In short, we know what we are doing and we do it very well (as the numbers show). Plus, we have never had a single complaint in over 13 years with the Better Business Bureau. So, we do things right. How many other brokerages can boast a no-complaint record? My guess is not many.

So then, if we are so great, why doesn’t everyone list with us? I ask myself that question every day. One explanation may be that some may not know of us. It is true that we don’t have the brand name recognition that other big-name traditional companies do. We saved sellers over $1 Billion dollars in commission fees nationwide though, so we have less money to toot our own home on national television, etc. We spend our money advertising our homes for sale, not ourselves. Another reason may be the bad-mouthing we receive by traditional agents on a daily basis. They are scared–more like terrified–of us, they can’t compete with us, and so they lie–blatantly–to our clients, customers, and the public in general. Funny how we have had numerous calls from agents asking us to list their own homes for sale since their brokerages charge too much, or they don’t have a lot of equity in their home to pay a high commission. Yes, you read that right. We have sold other active traditional real estate agents’ properties. If that isn’t proof we are the best of the best, I don’t know what is.

The Blue Collar Agents Blog has a recent posting discussing just what kind of lies are said about discount companies throughout the country: It’s a short read, but it makes a point. Click here to read more.

I do want to point out that in this day and age, Realtors and agents do not facilitate the buying and selling of homes as much as they used to in the past. Instead, people do; consumers do. And, most of them find the home of their dreams WITHOUT any agent telling them about it. They use the internet, drive by listings, and are members of e-mail update services that tell them about every home to hit the market, regardless of the listing agency. For example, through our website you can be alerted of all new listing and price changes of all homes throughout the state without ever speaking to me via an email. It is done automatically. Then, when you want to see a home, you call the agent or your choice to schedule an appointment. The data is in real-time, too, so consumers see what I do immediately with no lags.

It is like we have always said: Regardless of whom you list you home with, if it is priced correctly and marketed effectively, it will sell—the difference is how much you will pay in commission fees. Don’t be a sucker, and don’t let high commissions take a bite out of your home’s equity.


Dear Spring, April 17, 2007

Filed under: New Hampshire,NH,Uncategorized — Vanessa Sarlo @ 9:47 pm

If you don’t mind, I’d like to see you soon. You see, Winter and I haven’t been getting along too well lately. I threw him out of the house more than once, but he keeps finding a way back in. I keep reminding myself to change the locks. Just when I think he is gone for good—BAM—he shows back up with a vengeance. This past year, I thought maybe he had learned to control his temper, but recently, he seems to be making up for lost time and is back to his old habits. Frankly, he makes me sick —(I have pneumonia and he is partly to blame, no matter what the doctors say)—and I’m more than annoyed with his overbearing ways. Most of all, I am tired of getting the cold shoulder when I try to confront him. He is bossy, pushy, inconvenient, and always making me late for appointments. Worst of all, my family and friends hate him too.

My love affair with Spring

Spring, I know you and I will always be just a fling. I’m O.K. with that. After all, beggars can’t be choosers. In truth, I

am more partial to your hot brother, Summer, but I was hoping you’d come visit soon and cheer me up, even if it is only for a few months of the year. You see, the only thing that kept me going this year was the thought of you and I

reuniting once again. I imagined the two of us alone together: your scent intoxicating, your warmth enveloping, and your zest for life invigorating my body, mind, and soul. Please hurry—I can’t wait much longer!

I love you,


P.S. I know you usually like to bring your cousin Rain to tag along, but I was hoping for some alone time with you first. (What can I say? I’m high maintenance)

I apologize for those of you expecting the above to be at all related to real estate. Sometimes, a gal just needs to get a few things off her chest before getting down to business. Happy Spring.


Greetings from the Land of Discounters March 24, 2007

Hello Everyone!

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to view this site. With so many blogs and opinions flying around in cyberspace today, I hope you will find this particular one to be informative, cutting-edge, controversial, and most importantly, fun.

I decided to write this blog after spending some time at others professionals’ real estate blogs such as bluecollaragents.com and blueroof.com. Each person has their own interpretation and opinions as to where the real estate industry and market is heading over the next few months, years, and decades. I am one of those people, but with a minor catch: I am a discount real estate agent with very different ideas and opinions than the majority of “traditional” real estate agents, or, as I like to call them, the dinosaurs of our industry. Yep, folks, that’s right, I sell property for a flat fee and discounted MLS fee while still providing full service.

Many people have asked how I do it? How can I provide the same service that other agents charge up to tens of thousands of dollars MORE for? I hope to answer these and many more questions and have conversations over the coming months utilizing this blog.

Now, the disclaimer that all commissions are negotiable by law needs to be placed here, but most people are aware that traditional agents are also known as the six-percenters. Companies like Assist2Sell (where I work) are providing consumers with the full service of a real estate professional working to sell your home at a significantly discounted commission than the industry norm.

The term discount used to be considered a “dirty” word. Now, with the coming of Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club, BJs, Hyundai, eBay, SmartBargains.com, and others, it is looked upon in a new light by consumers and industry vets. Suddenly, it’s hip to be price-savvy.  Today more than ever before the real estate market is experiencing a definite uprooting from its traditional past. Why? The answer is simple: home prices have skyrocketed and we are no longer gatekeepers of information. With the advent of the Internet, and sites such as www.realtor.com, www.nneren.com, www.zillow.com, and many, many others, buyers can find almost any kind of imaginable information about a property for sale. Real estate agents supply that information, but they no longer keep it under lock and key as they did in the past.

My goal with this blog is to expose the secrets of the real estate industry, show consumers that there IS a better way to buy and sell property, and engage in conversations with buyers, sellers, and other real estate professionals so that we can all come to a better understanding of today’s changing market and industry.

I look forward to you continued support and guidance on this project, and hope you will be receptive to new ideas, even if you do not necessarily agree. Together, with your participation, we can take the real estate industry out of its stagnant black hole and into a new better and brighter light.