ALTRU Realty FAQ

FAQ's

Does the ALTRU® commission of 1.5% get paid at close?

Yes

Are there any other charges I will owe to ALTRU®?

NO

Can I see exactly what my net proceeds will be?

Yes, we will send you an estimated closing statement. Simply call us at 888-392-4806 or email us your proposed sale price, any lender payoff and your city. Keep in mind that the actual net proceeds will be stated on the ALTA closing statement and closing fees can vary depending on the title company.

How do I start a listing with ALTRU®?

There are two options to start your listing:

  1. Click here to Start Your Online Listing
  2. Call 888-392-4806 and ask for a Client Success Manager. They will set up your ALTRU® listing, order the photography/virtual tour and gather basic info such as address of property, your contact info and the best day and time for the photo/VT shoot.

Do I get a lock box?

Yes, free of charge.

Do I receive a yard sign?

Yes, unless HOA rules prohibit it, you’ll receive our full size 18x24 aluminum sign and post.

What is in your listing agreement?

Who sets the showings and gets the Realtor feedback?

Your ALTRU® team does-7 days a week. We will establish your showing instructions and per those instructions we will confirm all showings with you or give the lock box code (only for Realtors) if applicable.

What if I have a tenant or complicated showing instructions?

Our software allows us to enter in customized details for your showing instructions that will be documented during signup with your Client Success Manager. When a Realtor calls for a showing request, our administrators can quickly access the details, which will be followed exactly.

What if I need to change my showing instructions all the time depending on my schedule?

You can change your showing instructions as often as you wish!

What is an ALTRU® Certified Negotiator?

ALTRU® Certified Negotiator is the title given to a Realtor® employed by ALTRU® Realty who has successfully completed and passed our proprietary 15 month ALTRU® Realty negotiating training program. The training far exceeds that which a traditional licensee or Realtor receives from any standard real estate class, book, school or real estate agency training. Our certification focuses on the psychology behind why buyers make offers or don’t as well as the art of proving price which is all about not leaving any money on the table. Trainees also learn strategies to disarm buyers’ agents, how to recognize an appraisal shortfall and how to deal with it as well as how to analyze the data points such as number of showings, offers and days on market. Effective real estate negotiating is a complex marriage of data points, psychology and experience. This is a learnable skill but most real estate companies see no value in investing in education of this level because making a seller $3,000, $6,000, $10,000 or $50,000 more on a sale doesn’t result in a noticeable increase in commission to them. A well-negotiated deal netting the seller $6,000 more makes $180 more in commission for the listing agent based on 3% listing agent commission. At ALTRU® Realty, we are relationship driven as opposed to commission driven.

Is there a difference between ALTRU® Realty and traditional agents who charge the same or more?

Yes, there is a considerable difference. We set the bar of service, integrity and knowledge. ALTRU® was founded on the belief that sellers deserve a higher level of service and representation. Our agents & brokers possess a negotiating prowess that is better than other firms because of our extensive training protocols. We believe in hard work and tough negotiations. It’s different at ALTRU® because in our world, the seller’s best outcome is our mission. We aren’t motivated by commissions and therefore, ALTRU® Certified Negotiators go to great lengths to achieve the best possible outcome for sellers, often taking the more difficult path to get a seller a few more thousand for their home. This makes our job more difficult because we will work every offer to its highest point, anticipating and averting risks, vetting buyers and ultimately finding the best buyer. We are professional from beginning to closing.

How does ALTRU® Realty represent sellers differently compared with other agents?

Many large brokerages require their agents to represent sellers with a form of representation that is less than the highest form of representation. Doing so enables the listing agents to work with both the seller and the buyer should the buyer not have an agent and means the agent does not owe fiduciary duty to either party (loyalty, confidentiality, obedience, full disclosure). Different states call it different things but most commonly it’s referred to as "transaction broker" or "dual-agency." This allows agents more flexibility to maneuver between buyers and sellers and gives them the option to earn both sides of the commission. Another reason many real estate firms use this lessor form of representation is because it decreases their liability and allows them to manage their agents without worrying as much about violating the law.

At ALTRU®, we take a different stance on representing sellers in that we embrace a Single Agency (fiduciary) relationship. Our priority is to protect the seller’s best interest above all else.

How does Single Agency protect the seller?

The best example how Single Agency protects a seller can be best stated using this scenario: If a buyer or a buyer’s agent were to call a typical listing agent and ask the question, “Is your seller motivated?” most listing agents would happily offer their opinion about their seller’s intentions or motivations and quickly offer up a confirmation to the buyer’s agent that yes, the seller is motivated. This is actually an ethics violation whether that agent is operating as a Transaction Broker/Dual Agent or a Single Agent yet many agents still do this. This action by a listing agent is devastating to a seller because it’s essentially the equivalent to countering the seller’s list price without an offer ever being presented. What makes it an ethics violation is when the listing agent doesn’t ask the seller permission to freely give away their motivation. Why is it a counter offer? Because it sends a message to the buyer’s agent that the seller will entertain lower offers. This would never happen at ALTRU® because everything we say and do is thoughtful, strategic and in the seller’s best interest. It all adds up to be being either a professional negotiator working solely for the seller or something less.

Does it matter if my agent isn’t located in my same city?

If you're a buyer, yes. If you’re a seller, no. (Though agents vying for your listing would tell you otherwise!)

Some listing agents will tell you they have buyers in an attempt to get you to list with them. The truth is, most real estate transactions occur from the work of a buyer's agent who brings their buyer.

The real role of the listing agent is the represent the best interest of the seller, provide high quality, comprehensive marketing exposure and work hard to get the seller the best price and terms possible for the home-all which can be done from any location.

Will you help me with pricing my home?

Yes, we will do a free comparative market analysis and a price consultation the same day you ask us for one. Remember, you have the final say about pricing….Request a free price analysis now

What happens if I don’t receive an offer?

If you don’t have a contract in 19 days we will conduct an in-depth analysis of your showings, offers and feedback and consult with you about the best strategy to move forward.

How much wiggle room should a seller add to a list price?

None if you trust the company that is negotiating for you. Sellers typically add somewhere between $10,000 to $50,000 as wiggle room. Sellers typically believe starting high and working lower is a prudent negotiating strategy. The common phraseology is "I can always go down but I can’t go up." Well, as a professional negotiating real estate company, nothing could be further from the truth. Often our deals end up closing higher than where the property is listed. Leaving extra wiggle room removes the buyer incentive to make an offer. The closer the seller gets with their list price to where the buyers want to buy, the more a seller can ultimately make on the sale. There is a video that speaks to this called "hopeful buyers" and how this works to the seller’s advantage.

What is the most offers an ALTRU® listed property has received?

Our record at ALTRU® Realty was 18 offers which happened in February 2018. When a seller gets more than one offer at time the seller is a position of strength. In that 18-offer transaction the seller’s final sale ended up 10% over the list price. We believe that the seller ultimately received about 5-6k over the expected comparable value.

In this case, The ALTRU® Certified Negotiator actually hedged off a $10,000 appraisal shortfall risk onto the buyer because there were no recent comparable sales to support the high sale. That turned out to be smart move because the appraisal did come in $10,000 short. This is an example of a perfectly negotiated transaction. Not easy for the ALTRU® team but great for the seller.

Who determines the value of a home? A buyer’s agent? A seller? Or the buyer?

Most real estate deals happen when a buyer makes an offer followed by a counter offer back from the seller, with the final result being a price that is somewhere in the middle. However, this game does not prove value. Value is best found when multiple offers from multiple buyers drives competition or when accurate pricing compels an excellent buyer(s) to bring their offer. Value should not be assumed by agents via a "meet-in-the-middle" negotiating strategy. This is not true strategy and does not prove value! Please see video how to negotiate for a higher sales price.

Should I get an appraisal before listing my home for sale?

Few sellers actually spend $400 or more for an appraisal before listing their home. Our data shows about 1 out of 20 sellers get an appraisal before listing. There is likely no other topic that is more misunderstood than why a seller may or may not benefit from an appraisal before listing the home. Many people believe an appraisal sets value. It does not. Value is set by buyers competing to buy just like any market. The issue with relying solely on an appraisal for value is that an appraisal is done in a vacuum without “live” buyer input. Appraisers can’t see buyer demand or which neighborhoods are most popular and so on. Appraisals are both scientific and artful but lack any emotional value of desirability of a particular home. Every home is unique but appraisals assume homes are similar. Most sellers do their own research and look at past home sales in their neighborhood to help guide them. Others depend on the listing agent’s analysis using a comparable market analysis (CMA) to guide them after interviewing several agents, often choosing the agent who tells them what they want to hear. There are issues with both approaches. Most listing agents are competing against other listing agents for the listing and as a result, overstate the value.

So, should a seller trust an agent’s CMA?

Should a seller trust an agent’s CMA, an appraisal or come up with a list price on their own? The answer may be lie somewhere else. The most effective approach to establishing a listing price is by asking some important questions of the seller such as what the sellers would sell for, how many improvements were made to the property, what those improvements cost, and lastly is there new construction around the home which will compete for buyers? Once all the data including a CMA is sorted through and analyzed, there needs to be a high level of trust between the listing agent (or negotiator in the case of ALTRU® Realty) and the seller. That trust and skills of the negotiator should be the guide as to where to list the home for sale. The reality is we are selling to a buyer. The listing agent is not the buyer nor is the seller. We need to understand how buyers will react to the listing price. A true professional negotiator uses the list price as a tool at attract offers. Then that negotiator uses those offers to find true value. That is a process itself.

What is an appraisal shortfall and what does one do about it?

An appraisal shortfall is the difference between the sales price (sales contract) and the appraisal (typically ordered by the buyer’s lender). If the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price, that difference is called an appraisal shortfall. The lender won’t lend on more than the appraised value. Unless the seller is willing to lower their price to meet the appraised value, the only option to overcome this is to get the buyer to agree to bring the cash to the deal to meet the shortfall.

Does the sales price need to meet the appraised value?

Yes and no. At ALTRU®, one of our strengths as negotiators is our ability to manage and identify which properties may not appraise for the offered amount. There are remedies for appraisal shortfall such as the shortfall can be paid (in cash) by the buyer or the seller can always reduce their contract price to meet the appraised value. Another popular approach would be for the buyer and seller to meet in the middle between the appraised value and contract price. But unfortunately, what frequently occurs when the buyer and seller don’t agree is the deal is canceled. In this case, the buyer loses their $400+ appraisal fee and their home inspection fee. The seller’s damage is lost time while off the market and the fact that the property is now active again in MLS which draws the scrutiny of buyer’s agents wanting to know why the last deal failed. Lenders will only lend a percentage (loan to value) of the property’s appraised value.

What type of homes typically fall short of appraisal expectations

Often, homes in high-demand neighborhoods, over-improved homes or just homes that have exceptional improvements or upgrades end up in an appraisal shortfall situation. Yet there is another approach and possibly the best option for the seller which is to not solely accept the risk of an appraisal shortfall. At ALTRU®, we carefully analyze this seller risk and always attempt to protect the seller from having to reduce their price by addressing this risk, possibly hedging it onto the buyer BEFORE a contract is ever signed. If a cash deal, an appraisal is not required but a cash buyer may condition the sale on an appraisal. In that case ALTRU® has a strategy as well. Call us to discuss how we can protect you from appraisal shortfall.

How would one know there is a possibility of appraisal shortfall?

Recognizing this seller risk before the appraisal happens takes a listing agent who is highly skilled in analyzing specific details and picking up on cues from the marketplace. One source is listening to the buyer’s agents chatter about the value of the home because often they are correct. Another is comparing similar homes that have sold within 1 mile of the property. Yet another way is to analyze the days on market (DOM) of the home as compared with the offers that have been received. If the DOM are over 60 days and most offers are clustered below the latest offer than naturally one would question why this one outlier buyer or buyer’s agent has made a higher offer than all prior buyers. Most buyers make offers based on their perception of value which is tied to past closed sale data. It’s a double-edged sword in the sense that the seller wants a higher offer but the listing agent’s job is to be proactive and warn the seller that at times the buyer or buyer’s agents may have intentionally offered higher than where they believe the appraised value will come in, in hopes that the seller will capitulate and reduce the sales price to meet the short appraisal after the appraised value is established.

How can ALTRU® Realty protect a seller against appraisal shortfall?

This is not a topic we openly talk about in detail because to do so would be revealing trade secrets so to speak. We can say that ALTRU® Certified Negotiators will analyze the appraisal shortfall risk and present options to the sellers to protect them BEFORE signing the offer. See video on How to handle an appraisal shortfall.

Is the seller obligated to take a full price offer?

When working with ALTRU® Realty, the answer is no. The seller is not obligated to accept or counter any offer, even a full-price offer. Many full-service brokerages’ listing agreements contain verbiage that states the seller cannot reject a full-price offer or if they do, they will still be obligated to pay the broker a commission. ALTRU® has no such clause. Aside from the listing agreement a seller has with their broker, the seller has no commitment, obligation or prior agreement to any buyer until such time as the seller signs a contract. There may, however, be rules instituted by a particular MLS that affect a listing once a full-price offer has been rejected. For example, Colorado’s MetroList rules are such that if a seller receives a full-price offer and rejects that offer, the broker must either raise the sales price in MLS or note in the confidential agent remarks that the seller rejected a full-price offer.

Can a seller owe a commission to the listing broker regardless of closing?

Not with ALTRU® Realty. Almost all listing agreements do have language that protects the listing broker should that company bring a seller a full-price offer at the price and terms so stated in the listing agreement; and, closing that full-price offer is not a prerequisite to earning that commission. But, ALTRU® Realty omits that language from our ALTRU® Listing agreement as we believe there are circumstances where a seller would not benefit fully by accepting a full-price offer.

Is the seller obligated to respond to an offer by the "time to accept" deadline?

This is a misconception in real estate and the answer is no the seller is not obligated to accept, counter or respond by the "time to accept" date and time. This clause is intended to end an open offer to purchase. But one unintended use of this so called ominous date and time clause is to pressure a seller to counter. The time to accept clause is typically 5 PM on a certain date and typically one or two days from when the buyer made the offer.

Does ALTRU® Realty operate outside industry norms?

Yes and No! There are industry norms that are one-sided or pro-buyer in nature. ALTRU® has always and will continue to set our own protocol which centers around working for our client’s best interest. The real estate market is run by a large group of powerful companies, brokers, buyer’s agents and listing agents, all following a particular pattern of events to make a deal happen. While most blindly follow the herd, this works to ALTRU®’s advantage. The biggest reason to list your home with ALTRU® Realty is we do not operate within industry norms and continually dispel misconceptions that were created, in part, to mislead sellers into making bad decisions (for example, a fast counter offer). ALTRU® does what is in the best interest of the seller using our own ALTRU®istic methods of negotiating. We are not about controlling a seller through false industry misconceptions. We believe our negotiating expertise surpasses other firms “business as usual” methods and by doing so we protect our clients.

Is countering an offer the best strategy?

If a buyer’s initial offer is not a full-price offer, then the seller can assume that the offer is intended to meet the seller’s list price in the middle. The true value of a listing agent is to hold the line and discover the full and true value of a property. Countering an offer does not prove what a home is worth.

Are showings important or is it just offers that I need?

Showings in and of themselves are an indicator of buyer interest at first glance and they tell us whether a list price is in the realm of true market value. When combined with the added data point of offers, we can get a better idea of how viable the list price is. Multiple showings with no offers means the home is very overpriced. Few to no showings means the home is priced too high. Some showings with one or two low ball offers means the home is priced slightly high. Multiple showings with multiple offers means the home is priced well. We believe it’s best to leave little to no wiggle room so that you keep buyers hopeful and the offers plentiful. This increases the possibility of a full-price offer and gives the seller more options to get the terms desired.

What is the proper escrow for a seller?

Getting the best terms in the contract is critically important to the seller including the proper escrow deposits. At ALTRU®, we believe the correct way to write a contract is to include two escrow deposits, not one. We recommend the first escrow deposit to be made upon presenting the offer and the second after the inspection period. In the old days 10% escrow was the norm but now it’s closer to 1-3% of the sale price. On a $400,000 transaction 5% would be $20,000. That could be $5,000 initial escrow followed by $15,000 after inspections. For sellers, the more escrow, the better. The idea of escrow is to keep the buyer fully committed to the transaction and to protect the seller from a buyer who is not fully committed. The seller has risks when going under contract such as the buyer canceling the contract for a variety of reasons including the buyer choosing a different home. Of course this happens in real estate but proper escrow reduces the seller’s risk of a buyer just walking away. As well, should a buyer walk from a deal and the home goes back to active in the MLS that in itself is somewhat damaging to the seller in that most buyer’s agents will now want to know what happened with the prior deal. Note: most listing agreements state that if there is an escrow dispute between a buyer and seller and the seller has a right to keep the escrow monies, the broker has the right to split that amount 50/50 with seller. ALTRU® Realty’s listing agreement does not have such language.

Is a property survey paid for by the seller?

In most cases no, the buyer pays.

Does the seller need to fill out a seller’s discourse?

In some states a seller’s disclosure is law but most states it is not law but rather an industry protocol and will be expected by buyers’ agents prior to submitting offers. A seller needs to complete the seller’s disclosure without the assistance of the listing agent. This very important document explains the history of the home through the eyes of the seller. If there is a post-closing dispute, the buyer will use this document as their guide to revisit what the seller knew or didn’t know about the condition of the home. All known defects should be included when filling out the seller’s disclosure and a seller should be 100% forthright when answering the questions.

Are prior roof leaks and fixed items required to be disclosed on the seller disclosure? And will these items be an issue during the inspection?

Yes and no. The seller only needs to disclose exactly what is asked on the seller’s disclosure form unless there is matter that may materially affect the value of the home. The courts generally protect home buyers using the rule of what "materially affects the value." If there is something that should be disclosed, disclose it! Home inspectors do go into the attic and look closely at the underside of the roof sheathing looking for evidence of prior or active roof leaks. Another way to view repaired items and whether a seller needs to disclose to a buyer goes back to the phrase "does it materially affect the value of the home?" The reason why the seller’s disclosure document typically asks the seller whether there were prior roof leaks is because that question and answer does affect the value of the home because it means the roof may fail in the near future. But, for example, say a pool pump or air conditioner compressor was replaced or repaired do these repaired items need to be disclosed as repaired? The answer is no because they will not materially affect the value of the home in the future.

What does a 4-point inspection include?

A four point home inspection generally includes but is not limited to a skilled inspection of the roof, the electrical system, plumbing system and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

Will my older asphalt roof be a hindrance to selling?

Typically, a shingle roof older than 15 years is problematic and needs the correct strategy. There are two issues. One, it may be difficult for the buyer to obtain insurance (required by the lender) because the "useful life" of the roof is less than 5 years. Two, the 4-point home inspector may fail the roof which is a requirement of securing homeowner’s insurance. Another issue maybe the buyer and buyer’s agent that may request a new roof or substantial seller concession because they are uncomfortable with the roof’s condition. The solution is hire a real estate company that has the expertise in dealing with situations like this. ALTRU® Certified Negotiators are highly skilled at finding the most cost-effective solution for the seller.

What are the solutions for a seller when dealing with an older asphalt shingle roof?

Here are a few remedies that often work well. One, add language to the seller’s disclosure statement that the roof if not leaking and never has leaked (if true) and seller is selling roof in its current "as-is" condition. This may help get the buyer and their agent to move on beyond negotiating for a new roof. Another effective approach is to offer the buyer 1/3 of the cost of a new roof as a seller concession whether the 4-point inspection passes the roof or not. If not, another solution is to have the buyer use a local community lender and apply for a 1.10% loan and reroof after closing. In this case or all cases, most insurance companies will offer the buyer temporary insurance allowing them to close as long as the buyer re-roofs shortly after closing. These are all remedies that we use at ALTRU® or combinations thereof.

What are the typical electrical issues during a home inspection?

The list is long and depends on code requirements in various states. Examples can be as simple as missing CGFI outlets within 6’ of water (baths and kitchens) or minor issues with outside outlets. Outside outlets may require weatherproof covers. The breaker panel box can’t have double tapped breakers. The worst situation is aluminum wiring. If this exists one solution is Coppercon retrofit which is adding a copper tip to both ends of the wiring. The cost ranges between $1800-$4000. Another expensive electrical issue is having a known fire hazard electrical panel box. The cost to replace is about $1200.

What are the typical plumbing issues during a home inspection?

Mostly minor except for the unusual case of polybutylene plumbing which is rather rare.

What are the typical pool issues during a home inspection?

Worn Marcite (pool surface) and leaking pool pump or improper pool equipment grounding. Before listing a home make sure the pool heater (if there is one) is 100% functional.

What are the typical A/C issues during a home inspection?

Dirty coils ($400) and A/C not cooling fast enough which is typically a lack of coolant.

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