The lay of the land has changed in Central Alberta’s real estate industry, with two new brokerage firms joining the market in recent weeks.
Jim Jardine and Pat Garritty, longtime members of Re/Max Real Estate Central Alberta’s office in Sylvan Lake, launched Trilliant Real Estate Group on May 22.
Four days later, Stephen and Susan Rochefort opened Lime Green Realty Inc. They had been with Royal LePage Network Realty Corp. in Red Deer.
Trilliant is based in Sylvan Lake and Lime Green in Red Deer, but both firms are active throughout the region.
Joining Jardine and Garritty at Trilliant are Darcy Rosie and Blair Morris, also former Realtors with Re/Max in Sylvan Lake.
Garritty said part of his and Jardine’s motivation for striking out on their own was the opportunity to develop their own programs.
Specifically, Trilliant offers a buyback guarantee, under which it will buy back homes from purchasers who change their minds within 24 months. Trilliant will also guarantee vendors that they will receive a predetermined market value price for their homes, and it will buy the old house of clients who purchase a home listed by Trilliant.
Garritty said these program increase the accountability of the Realtors involved.
“Why is the consumer always at risk? It’s time that we took the risk.”
Other programs are in the works, he added.
Increased flexibility in serving clients was also a reason the Rocheforts decided to start their own firm.
“There were a number of programs that we wanted to create that you can’t do in a larger brokerage,” said Stephen.
These included a different commission structure.
When acting for a buyer, Lime Green pays 25 per cent of the commission it earns to that client. And when representing the vendor, it charges a flat fee based on list price, rather than a percentage rate.
In the case of a $349,900 listing, said Stephen, Lime Green’s selling commission would be $4,500. That’s about $2,250 less than the vendor would pay for a typical percentage fee of three per cent on the first $100,000 and 1.5 per cent on the balance.
When another agent represents the buyer on a transaction that Lime Green is involved in, said Stephen, he and Susan recommend to their vendor client that they pay the normal commission to the buyer’s agent.
“The reason for that is to make sure we don’t push away real estate agents.”
Flat fees are not new to the real estate industry, said Stephen, but Lime Green is one of the few to have a program for vendors and buyers.
“I think we only know of one other company in Alberta for sure, and probably in Canada, that’s doing that right now.”
The Rocheforts are in the process of distributing 30,000 Lime Green Realty brochures to Red Deer residents. Included on each are recipes with lime juice among the ingredients.
“It gives people an incentive to want to keep that piece of paper,” explained Susan.
Garritty and the Rocheforts think they’ve picked a good time to start real estate brokerages.
“Things have really picked up over the last couple of months,” said Susan.
Garritty agreed, pointing to low interest rates and reduced home prices as factors stimulating market activity.
Trilliant’s website is at www.trilliantrealty.ca, while Lime Green’s can be found at www.limegreenrealty.ca.