After getting acquired by a top real estate company and building a global real estate app, I constantly get asked about the best ways to buy and sell a house in today’s market. Instead of re-typing the same stuff over and over again, here’s a quick overview.

Agent commissions aren’t really a problem

Outsiders always complain about real estate commissions because they think it’s “unfair” but it’s not really a problem IMO.

  1. There have been alternative, low-cost options to agents in every market for decades. Few examples:

    • FSBO ($100-$400) - list your house “for sale by owner” on all the major aggregators.

    • Flat fee brokerages ($100-$500) - list your house on the MLS and get help with the transaction if you need it.

    • Discount brokerages (1% and/or cash back at closing) - list your house and get salaried (not commission) real estate expert to help you.

  2. Startups tried and failed to displace the agent.

    1. Despite decades of startups trying to kill agents, there are now more agents than ever. There are actually more agents than their are MLS listings 🤣

    2. Not only have they failed to displace agents, the most successful real estate startups are adding 1-4% to the transaction instead of reducing the cost.

  3. A good buyer’s agent is worth their weight in gold in this market

    1. Lack of inventory is the biggest problem in real estate. The best houses are sold before they hit the MLS or the first day they’re listed. If you see it on Zillow, it’s probably gone or wildly overpriced.

    2. A good local “veteran” buyer’s agent knows about the houses coming soon and can work their network to get you in the door.

How you should buy a house?

  1. **Path 1 - Hustle off-market **
    Finding a house off-market, meaning not on MLS (Zillow/Redfin), is the only way to get the exact location you want and avoid a bidding war.

    1. Narrow down your top 1-3 neighborhoods

    2. Narrow down the top 1-3 streets in those neighborhoods or specific houses.

    3. Go to those streets and knock on the doors of the houses.

      1. Tell them you want to move to the neighborhood and ask if they know anyone moving out any time soon. This shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours.

      2. Use LandGlide to see homeowner names.

      3. If door knocking isn’t an option, mail them a handwritten letter telling them your story and what you’re looking for.

    4. Make them a generous offer (all cash, time to move) they would get if they listed their house today and make it easy for them to move out.

  2. Path 2 - Get a true local expert
    As I mentioned above, a good buyer’s agent is worth their weight in gold. They know about deals before everyone else and can work the seller’s agent to get your offer(s) seen. Do not use a Redfin/virtual agent. They aren’t in the local private networks and they aren’t incentivized to work their ass off for you.

    1. Narrow down your top 1-3 neighborhoods.

    2. Look at the past 6-month home sales in those neighborhoods.

    3. Reach out to those buyers (now homeowners) and ask for recommendations by door knocking or Linkedin.

    4. Look at reviews, testimonials and interview each one.

    5. Hire the one that feels like a partner - It’s going to be a journey.

How you should sell your house?

As I mentioned above, lack of housing inventory is the biggest problem in real estate. If you’re selling a nice $500K-$1.5M house, you have a very hot commodity but you still could probably use help marketing and running the auction-style home sale including dealing with open houses, showings and all the offers. Trust me, you don’t want to do that.

My best advice is to use the top local agent in your neighborhood but don’t pay the full seller’s commission. They have the best network and will work harder than virtual discount brokerages.

  1. Go to the top 1-2 agent in your neighborhood.

    1. You should know them since you get their mail and see their signs every day.

    2. Why them? Being the top agent in a neighborhood means they likely have dozens of buyers waiting for your house to show up. You will have buyers before you even list.

  2. Ask them if they’ll sell for 1%

    1. Same as Redfin and other discount brokerages
  3. Simple as that :)