Toronto’s real estate market is full of uncertainty due to sky-high prices and low vacancy rates, creating a battery of issues for those looking to get into the game. Despite these notable changes, there have been few attempts to disrupt the market similar to what has occurred in other industries.
Enter Nobul: a Toronto-based app that offers flexibility and convenience to its users, providing buyers and sellers choice and transparency when it comes to selecting their real estate agent. The team behind the app believes that there are great real estate agents out there and that what is needed is a safe and easy way for users to find the right one – someone who matches up with their individual situations and needs.
How Nobul is different
“The key to a good experience in real estate is having a great agent,” says Regan McGee, CEO and founder of Nobul.
To help buyers and sellers find the right agents, Nobul uses reviews and a customizable suite of services that empowers clients to choose someone who best reflects their needs. Similar to Airbnb, users can tailor their specific requirements to match whatever best aligns with their profile and needs. Or, like Amazon, users can browse verified customer reviews to find their ideal match, all while finding a home within their budget.
Previous platforms have attempted to remove agents from or limit their involvement in this process, but Nobul recognizes the valuable role that agents play when it comes to helping people realize their real estate dreams. It’s not that relationships with agents are inherently negative, but it’s the lack of transparency between all parties that creates issues. With Nobul, agents are held accountable for their performance, as customers can leave valuable feedback from their own individual experiences.
“People don’t dislike agents,” McGee says. “They dislike feeling like they’re getting ripped off.”
Agent commissions are negotiable
Buying a home is quite often the largest purchase you’ll ever make, and that doesn’t even include the heavy fees you end up paying. While the commissions you might pay to agents should be in line with their individual market expertise, some might be surprised to learn that the rules surrounding such fees aren’t set in stone.
Five per cent has long been accepted as the standard commission rate that agents receive from sellers (2.5 per cent goes to the listing brokerage and agent, and an additional 2.5 per cent goes to the buyer’s agent), but Nobul creates opportunities to negotiate these figures. Some agents on the platform will support the prices they charge with the quality of advice they provide and the variety services they offer (such as market expertise, customer reviews, assistance with staging, inspections or repairs). Others may offer fewer services and charge lower fees, appealing to buyers who need to make the most of every dollar. Agents on Nobul aren’t charged a cent unless they actually help their client find a home or sell their property.
This open-market mentality speaks to what McGee sees as the fundamental principle that guides individuals when selecting an agent.
“People want a good agent to represent them well and charge them a fair and appropriate amount of money during that process.”
Buying a house can make you money
Toronto’s market is very hot, and that means that agents can often make good money without having to push too hard for sales. This has proven inherently unfair to some sellers who have doled out premium commissions for minimal work, while simultaneously alienating buyers who are often, unknowingly, footing the bill for a “virtual” agent who isn’t actively working on their behalf.
Instead of cutting out the commission fees entirely, agents on Nobul can offer buyers a cut as cashback, reducing their purchase costs and potentially incentivizing more people to get into the market in the process.
“It’s a win-win,” says McGee. “Buyers win because they get money that they wouldn’t have received otherwise, and agents win by earning business that they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.”
Nobul is further reducing the financial barriers to homeownership by offering $1,000 to each of the first 100 users who find or list their property with the agent they meet through Nobul and sign an agreement of purchase and sale. Additionally, they are offering $100,000 to one user who makes it official and successfully buys or sells a property with an agent they meet through the app. (Promotion expires August 31, 2018.)
While purchasing a home might seem confusing for some, learning to navigate the system and taking advantage of some tricks without any pressure to commit can empower buyers and sellers. And this puts them in a stronger position to make the most of the market.
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