For most of us, buying and selling a house is likely the single largest financial transaction of our lifetime. Having what I like to call a “rock-star” real estate agent can mean all the difference between a smooth, stress-free experience and a nightmarish one.
With over 40,000 real estate agents in Toronto, choosing an agent can seem like a daunting task. Many choose the first agent that they meet or a family friend. While they might be the best agent for you, there’s no guarantee. If only there was a better way. And there is – feeDuck.
FeeDuck offers the best of both worlds. It helps home buyers and sellers easily find qualified real estate agents – and negotiate commission fees. In an industry ripe for disruption, feeDuck offers buyers and sellers an alternative to the status quo.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with feeDuck co-founder Warren Mascarenhas to discuss how feeDuck is helping match buyers and sellers with top real estate agents and saving them big bucks on commission.
1. Can you describe how feeDuck works? How did you come up with this unique business idea? How much commission do you estimate you’ve saved your clients since inception?
feeDuck provides an online platform which leverages the demand for home sellers’ and buyers’ business by giving quality real estate agents the opportunity to compete for their business. Real estate agents compete by bidding down their commission rate for sellers and bidding up a rebate for buyers.
When comparing notes with other neighbours on our home buying and selling experiences, each of us having used various time-consuming and ineffective methods to list our properties, realized that there were significant differences between the commissions we paid for similar agents. We decided that there had to be a better way and consumers deserved a method to find GREAT agents AND save money. In January 2013, feeDuck.com was born!
On average, we save home sellers around $22k in commission costs.
2. feeDuck isn’t just for home sellers. Can you talk about the benefit of home buyers using feeDuck?
With the sticker prices on homes being what they are (expensive!), home buyers right now tend to be putting all their savings into a down payment for their house, leaving nothing left for renovations or furnishings. In 2015, feeDuck launched our Home buyers auction, which is designed to put money back into the pocket of our buyers. Similar to our sellers auction, Realtors compete for our buyers’ business by bidding up a rebate that the buyer will receive after their purchase.
3. Why has feeDuck been so popular with real estate agents? What benefits does it offer to agents?
Agents that use feeDuck see it as a great opportunity to further grow their brand, increase their sales and above all get direct access to the qualified lead of an individual that is actually looking to buy or sell. Since all agents can sign up and bid for leads with total anonymity, using feeDuck doesn’t affect any branding exercise agents may be implementing. At the end of day, feeDuck gets more For Sale and Sold signs on lawns for agents, which is the best marketing and branding there is.
4. How do you vet your agents? Conventional wisdom says that you “get what you pay for.” How do you know you’re getting good value from the real estate agents that offer the lowest commission?
All feeDuck agents must go through an approval process before being registered on our platform. To be approved, agents must meet fairly stringent criteria, which includes: working for a well-known quality brokerage, having great online marketing, good online reviews, and good standing with the realtor board. All agents that are approved are screened individually and are assessed throughout the year to make sure they still meet our criteria.
Additionally, since home sellers dictate and select the services they want their realtors to provide, they are not missing out on any services while they benefit from a discounted commission rate.
5. Do you think it’s fair to ask experienced real estate agents to lower their commission? Has there been any pushback?
Like in any profession, commission fees are negotiable and real estate is no different. feeDuck gives realtors access to a home seller and buyer who is in market for an agent – a lead that would normally cost thousands in blanket marketing expenses.
Some agents may see us as a threat, but for the most part, agents see feeDuck has an opportunity to increase their sales and grow their brand while reducing their significant marketing costs.
6. Is feeDuck is free to use for buyers and sellers? Do real estate agents compensate you for leads?
feeDuck is 100% free for our home sellers and buyers to use and there is no obligation to sign with the winning agent either. Once the potential buyer or seller meets with the winning agent, they are still free to make a decision of whether they would like to move forward with the relationship or not. The platform is also free for realtors to sign up and participate on – only the winning agent on a bid is charged an administration fee at the close of an auction.
7. What benefits does feeDuck offer over For Sale By Owner (FSBO)?
One’s home is typically your largest asset, and selling your home by yourself can be very a nerve-racking, time-consuming, and above all a costly experience if your property is not properly evaluated or marketed. feeDuck gives our home sellers access to a professional with years of experience to make sure their property is properly evaluated, marketed effectively, and your terms are properly negotiated in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
8. How has your business been over the summer with the real estate market in the GTA slowing from its peak in April 2017?
Since the new real estate regulations came into place, we have noticed that our users are taking a wait-and-see approach to the market. User signup rate has been fairly steady, but auctions in the GTA in the off peak summer months have been down. With that said, the end of August and beginning of September auctions for both buyers and sellers are starting to heat up again.
feeDuck.com, our agents and best-selling Canadian author, Sean Cooper, have something in common – we’re all making home ownership more attainable for Canadians by finding ways to put money back in your pockets! This is why we are SO excited to announce that feeDuck.com will be giving a copy of Sean Cooper’s “Burn Your Mortgage” to 2 lucky users each week for a whole year! Head to feeduck.com and sign up for your user account & you will be automatically entered into our weekly draw. And don’t worry – if you’ve already signed-up with us (thank-you), you’re automatically entered too!