Upfront retainer - what do you think?

Do you think Realtors should start charging an upfront non-refundable fee in a Buyer Agency? If so, how much you think it should be?
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November 05 2012 - Chicago
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If retailers start charging an admission fee just to 'browse', perhaps Realtors can charge a non refundable fee. But since real estate sales are performance based / commission based, it seems unlikely that the bulk of real estate agents would be successful with that model of business.
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November 05 2012
Yes, I think you should all start doing that....and then I WON'T. 

Viola! 

New business plan for me.
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November 05 2012
Profile picture for TCharlemagneA
kinda awesome another way you people could get paid for doing nothing.
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November 05 2012
Profile picture for wetdawgs
If some agents decide to do that, it will be much easier to select which ones to interview.

I wouldn't mind paying an agent per hour for the work they actually do for me (and I would pick and chose) if they didn't  get a commission when the sale closes.
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November 05 2012
I would never do that.  Showing property is just part of doing business.  If they buy - great.  If not - then ask for a referral.
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November 06 2012

 It is true...some people take advantage of us -- it is so unfair and incredibly frustrating part of our job. An upfront non refundable fee is a NO for me.It just feels wrong...sorry.

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November 06 2012
Do you think Realtors should start charging an upfront non-refundable fees.If tey can't keep there clinets by doing a good job then they should loose them. 
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November 06 2012
I can't imaging requiring a fee to show a potential buyer property.  Your first goal should be to develop a relationship.  Requiring a fee is a poor way to start.  Showing property benefits you - you develop market knowledge, and if it is meant to be, a relationship with the client that can last a lifetime.
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November 06 2012
What if we actually good paid weekly  for every hour worked.
If you take the hours works divided into commission earned an hourly amount could be figured. On some deals it would be sad but on others it is awesome.
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November 06 2012
Even if you wanted to I doubt that you would be very successful at getting buyers to pay it.  In the competitive world of real estate brokerage, with discount brokers and a "race to the bottom" mentality on commissions already at play, you would be placing yourself at a huge disadvantage.
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November 07 2012
 I think we have all been there and have thought about charging a fee but I don't think it would work. I can spend alot of time, energy and gas driving a client around to look at property then at the end of the day they say "thank you we will think about it"  Over the years I have become a pretty good interviewer and judge of character but it is still possible to get burned. Summer on the Cape, a non beach day and tourists get to thinking wouldn't it be nice to go look at a few houses. I think "tour guides get paid" why don't I ?  Then they want you to buy them lunch to boot!   
  In the end our value is our market expertise, negotiating skills and experience to ensure a smooth trouble free exchange. Perhaps since we don't have a diploma on the wall like a lawyer or Doctor would have we are not seen as the educated professionals we are.
   What would we charge per hour? Anything would seem high to a potential client but the same client won't think twice about paying a cleaning lady $30 an hour.  Sadly it is due to a general lack of respect for our profession. Plus everyone thinks we are millionaires, right.
  If a upfront fee was charged it could be reimbursed at closing?  It sure would help weed out the looky loos.
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November 07 2012
I would say this would be a very unsuccessful practice if you started doing that.
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November 27 2012
In Denver, this is happening more and more, because our market has seen inventory fall 40% and buyers are climbing all over each other to purchase homes.  Here's the key, though.  The only way a client will consider paying a retainer fee (refundable at closing) is if you are EXCELLENT at what you do and can clearly document the value you bring to a transaction.  I have had multiple clients this year simply give up after months of searching and losing out in multiple offer situations.  That's expensive, because every client you choose to work with comes with an opportunity cost.  I do not (yet) charge a retainer, but in a hot market there is nothing unreasonable about it, as long as the value of working with you is clearly evident.  Agents are not commodities, any more than attorneys or doctors.  If a client wants the best representation (which invariably will save them money on the buy side, or make them money if they are selling), you find the very best agent you can and you hire that person to produce for you the results they have produced for others.  (Which, by the way, should be documented clearly online in places like your Zillow profile)
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November 27 2012
I havent seen a buyers agent do that but there are several agents in my market that charge a non-refundable deposit for the listing if it doesnt sell and if it does the money is credited back at closing. I am also seeing more agents charge transaction fees. I hope they continue so I can grow my business. :)
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December 04 2012
In San Francisco here we do have a "buyers agreement" but in reality it doesn't mean much in the grand picture. As far as charging up front for listings its very uncommon to due to unless you have paid upfront money to prepare the home for sale (painting, staging, reports, disclosures, etc.) and it was agreed upon in writing with the seller that in the even the property doesn't sell these out of pocket expenses are to be paid back to the agent (broker). I think we are a performance based industry so sometimes we roll with the punches but if you are servicing your clients correctly and guiding them through the transaction with full disclosure there should be no need for upfront fees. 
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December 12 2012
 
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