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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Brokers Bid for Residential Listings on Website

The For-Sale-by-Owner process for home sellers could get a lot easier now that there’s a new player in the space. Less Percent Real Estate, headquartered in Marlton, N.J., launched its website LessPercent.com about two weeks ago in the L.A. area and New Jersey. The site matches up homeowners selling their homes with Realtors and real estate agents who bid to win home listings based on their commissions and services. “The average homeowner doesn’t realize you can negotiate with an agent (on their commission),” said Chief Executive Michael Huegel. “Most think 6 percent. You can negotiate, but some people don’t have the personality for that.” Calabasas certified public accountant Craig Szabo, owner of Szabo Accountancy Corp., is leading the local operation and helped set up and launch Less Percent. Szabo also recruited advisors for the business and raised $500,000 among Valley-based investors, many of whom are his clients, he said. Not only does he personally own a shopping center, but his firm specializes in real estate. “I’m not a real tech guru, but I’ve learned the value of tech in real estate,” Szabo said. The way Less Percent works is homeowners who are selling homes list a property on the site for free. The listing doesn’t disclose their names or addresses, but includes enough information for real estate agents to decide whether or not they want to negotiate their commission and what services they would provide for that commission. If an agent wants to bid on a listing, the bid is private, Huegel said. Viewing properties and bidding are free for agents. To view a property, agents first create accounts with photos, a biography with years in the business, how many homes they’ve sold in the past year and the language(s) they speak. The information seen by the homeowner also includes how many miles away the agent is from the property. If an agent wins the bid, Less Percent charges the agent’s credit card a flat fee based on the home’s asking price, Huegel said. But the fee works like a security deposit – should the agent not keep the listing, or not sell the home, Less Percent will either return the money in full or replace the listing with another one of equal value, Huegel said. For homes with an asking price up to $500,000, the fee is $299, while for asking prices between $500,000 and $750,000, Less Percent’s fee is $399. It continues to increase as the asking price rises. “This is the new way of doing business; that’s how millennials work.,” Huegel said. “A lot out there are trying to get rid of real estate agents. That’s crazy; it’s impossible.” Commissions so far have varied, he said, between the very low up to 4.5 percent. Szabo said the company will be starting another round of fundraising and plans to launch a mobile application for agents at $5 to $10 a month. “That is very, very profitable for the investor side,” Szabo said. “There are almost 3 million agents (nationally), so even if 10 percent use our mobile app – that’s $1.5 million to $3 million a month.” Tapping from the top Real estate services firm Peak Corporate Network in Woodland Hills has tapped the former head of an international manufacturing company to lead its aggressive growth plan. Sagi Cohen, formerly chief executive for 10 years of CaesarStone USA in Northridge, the national headquarters of Israel-based quartz surfaces manufacturer CaesarStone Sdot-Yam Ltd., took over in May as chief executive of Peak, the company announced. Peak chose Cohen to lead the company’s five-year goal of reaching $100 million in annual gross revenue because Cohen was responsible for bringing in $300 million in sales to CaesarStone and growing revenue by 500 percent. “Sagi’s appointment will be a game-changer for the Peak Corporate Network,” said Gil Priel, Peak co-founder and managing director. Strategic Name Change Century 21 Crest Real Estate in La Crescenta has joined the Irvine-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage network and has changed its name to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Crest Real Estate. The brokerage has offices in Burbank, La Crescenta and Sunland. Ray Mirzakhanian, owner and operator of Crest Real Estate, said the brokerage was interested in Berkshire Hathaway’s strength in luxury markets. “We believe the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand gives us wonderful opportunities to expand in new markets and market niches,” Mirzakhanian said in a statement. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns HomeServices of America Inc., the nation’s second-largest residential real estate brokerage company, and is the majority owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Staff Reporter Carol Lawrence can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or clawrence@sfvbj.com.

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