Trish Holder Interviews Ecobroker Sarah Olson from LEAP Realty
In our last blog we talked with Sarah Olson, certified Ecobroker® and co-owner of Leap Realty, about what differentiates Ecobrokers from other real estate brokers. Today, we dig a little deeper into what being an Ecobroker really means to Sarah Olson and the team at Leap Realty.
Trish: I hear it all the time – a lot of people just don’t think real estate brokers earn their paycheck. Is that fair?
Sarah: In some cases absolutely! Just like any other industry, you have those that work and those that work around working. But for the most part, realtors work hard for their paychecks. Their time, knowledge and transportation time adds up. Sometimes they work hard for no paycheck at all such as when a client’s needs change and they no longer wish to sell a property that’s been listed or their financing falls through on a home.
Trish: How does your commission compare to standard brokers?
Sarah: Our rates are competitive in the local markets. Our fees are 6% for marketing homes and 3% when working with buyers (of which is typically compensated through the seller via MLS).
Trish: Do you approve of the way real estate brokers are compensated for the sell of a home?
Sarah: I actually do not care for the pay structure of our industry. Real estate is a ‘service’ industry and by paying commission percentages it is turned into a ‘selling’ industry. As a consumer, I don’t want my realtor to ‘sell’ me anything. I want them to represent my best interests (which, by law is what we are supposed to do). I believe a percentage of the price of the home is a convenience and an industry bad habit of paying for professional services.
Trish: How do you “earn” your paycheck as an Ecobroker
Sarah: Our first step is always to have an in-depth conversation with the client. We simply talk about their needs, where they are going now, and where they wish to be in the future. This conversation lets us know what’s important to them. Do they have allergy or asthma issues? Are they on a tight budget where energy efficiency will be a benefit?
Real estate is an investment and should be addressed as such from the beginning. We educate our clients every step of the way, helping them find the best home for their needs and giving them resources and guidance to improve their investment after the sale.
Trish: You also work with custom home clients. How do your services and rates differ for that type of client?
Sarah: We do work with custom home clients, and those rates can be a percentage of the build or an hourly rate depending on the need of the client.
For custom home clients, we assist in pulling the entire team together from architect to builder, assuring that the finished product is a dream home that fits the client’s specific needs. When working with green builders, we are involved throughout the entire construction process, making sure we understand techniques the builder uses so we can explain them and their benefits to the consumer.
Trish: How is the eco-consumer different from the average consumer?
Sarah: The eco-consumer is a wise consumer. Many of our clients are already well versed in sustainability. You cannot ‘sweet talk’ your way around an educated consumer when talking green. You’ll end up with egg on your face.
Trish: How do you practice what you preach?
Sarah: We are the only real estate firm to partner with NC Greenpower, offsetting our carbon footprint through donations we make to renewable energy technologies here in NC. Our website is hosted via AISO, solar powered servers. Our marketing materials are sourced locally and printed on sustainable materials. And we are truly a paperless firm. We use online document storage, paperless contracts with our clients, and we provide our agents with tablet pc’s so they can be paperless on the job. No local firm comes close to what we do for the environment!