Kris Liebe, left, of Lake Country Flat Fee
Realty talks with buyer Dave Dulaney outside the home he is
purchasing in Brookfield.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
OCONOMOWOC - With a lot of homes selling
right after they go on the market, Lake Country Flat Fee
President Paul Liebe said the indication is it doesn’t
matter what company has the home listed.
Many homeowners, he said, opt to go with a real
estate company that offers a flat fee and a smaller commission
because they know their home will sell quickly, especially if it
is on the MLS listing. More people are doing their own online
searches to determine what homes they are interested in and not
relying as much on a real estate agent for help.
“I think the consumers are becoming more
educated,” Liebe said. “When they search for a home, everyone
does it the same way.”
Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee
Association of Realtors, said as the home real estate market has
improved, the “pie of listed houses has grown.” Each real estate
company can then have a larger slice of the pie, whether it is a
large company with hundreds of agents or a smaller broker-owned
According to a release earlier in May from the
GMAR, in March the metro-Milwaukee area recorded a 25.6 percent
increase in sales compared to the previous year - and while
April may not have seen the same significant uptick, sales were
up 13.4 percent. In Waukesha County, home sales increased 22.9
percent in April compared to the year before. Milwaukee County
only had a 6.6 percent increase but Washington County had a 15.8
percent increase and Ozaukee County had the highest at 31
Inventory has been tight for more than a year.
Ruzicka said more homes have been listed for sale in 2015, but
there are also more buyers.
Ruzicka said in a traditional home-selling
market, about 15 percent are “for sale by owner.” Then, within
90 days half of those become regular broker listings.
What also benefits the smaller real estate
companies is having a strong reputation. Ruzicka gave real
estate broker Scott Heyerdahl, owner of Premier Properties Ltd.,
in Hartland, as an example.
Ruzicka always recommends getting to know your
broker to determine whether you are comfortable with them,
because they will learn everything about your family during the
home-selling and buying process. He said it’s also advisable to
learn what resources a company can bring to the transaction,
with some companies being almost like a one-stop shopping
experience while others may have an exceptionally strong
network. There are advantages and disadvantages to working with
a small or a large real estate company, Ruzicka said.
Heyerdahl said one of the advantages of working
with a smaller brokerage is its expertise.
“Some of the smaller brokerages are owned and/or
operated by experienced local agents,” he said.
While a larger company may have more name
visibility, Heyerdahl said the smaller companies have other
Bob Tarantino, president of Redefined Realty in
Delafield, said sellers are “starting to realize they can get
away with paying less in commission.”
At Redefined Realty, they are seeing a definite
uptick in business, he said.
Both Lake Country Flat Fee and Redefined Realty
are full-service companies that offer their services for a flat
fee and a small commission percentage at closing.
“The bottom line is the MLS is everything,”
Tarantino said. “Once you have the MLS, the field is leveled.”
The home seller is also becoming more confident,
“In general, probably 50 to 60 percent of the
properties we list are selling within in days,” Tarantino said.
Liebe said he listed a home in Pewaukee on the
MLS server first thing in the morning Tuesday and by the end of
the day, the home had had five showings and an offer placed. The
homeowners ended up getting a full offer for the listing price
Tarantino said the other 40 percent or so of
homes that aren’t selling quickly are generally overpriced or