Agents, homebuilders mend business relations - East Valley Tribune: News

Agents, homebuilders mend business relations

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Posted: Friday, May 23, 2008 4:44 pm | Updated: 11:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

With home sales still in a slump, Valley builders and real estate agents are working to mend strained relationships between the two sides and boost business for everyone.

During the boom - when sales were nearly effortless - some builders slashed commissions to agents who brought in clients. Others offered flat fees that were a fraction of a standard commission amount.

Some agents felt, "You pushed us away when you didn't need us, and now you do need us," said Diane Byrne, vice president of marketing for Cachet Homes.

Byrne recently joined a committee of builders and real estate agents focused on educating and opening communication between the two groups.

Formed by the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors, the committee began ramping up outreach efforts last year by holding informational lunches for agents.Topics have included commissions and warranties and the building process.

Not all builders cut back on agent commissions, Byrne said. Cachet, which gets 60 percent of its business from agents, paid the same rate in good times and bad, she said.

"I think the best part of this is it brings us together to communicate some of those perceived injustices," Byrne said.

On Friday, the association is hosting a builder fair where agents can learn more about local companies.Nearly two dozen builders will have booths and more than 600 agents are expected to attend.

"(Builders) recognize that the Realtors can drive the buyers to them," said Alicia Conley, an agent with Royalty Real Estate Services.

It also allows agents to best serve their buyers by showing everything that's available, she said. With so many abandoned homes, people think the best deal is always the foreclosure home, but that's not necessarily true, Conley said.

Builders may be offering new homes in the same area for only a few thousand dollars more, said Dawn Matesi, associate broker at Realty Executives. Buyers also know what they're getting instead of having to accept a foreclosure home "as is," Matesi said.

"It's brand new. It's got the warranty," she said. "It's really a no-brainer."

With a massive oversupply of homes in today's market, it's crucial for builders and agents to work together, said Karl Tunberg, co-owner of Chandler-based Sanctuary Builder.

Tunberg was one of five builders who answered questions from a group of 75 agents at a recent association event.

A little bit of distance has always existed between real estate agents and builders - a rift that widened during the boom, he said.

Some builders gave agents a $1,500 flat fee on $300,000 and $400,000 homes, he said.Usually, that commission would be closer to $15,000, he said.

Tunberg added that he feels education and the ability to share success stories with each other are positive for both groups. Many people in the industry are struggling and falling on hard times, he said.

"It's really easy right now to get down about what you're doing and not feeling like you're worthwhile," he said.

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