Category: Business

Real Estate Brokerage Is Changing to a Virtual Brokerage Model

Real estate offices are closing all over the country. Real estate agents are hanging up their licenses in every state. The traditional bricks-and-mortar real estate brokerage is hemorrhaging, and all that keeps this archaic business model alive is consolidations. As offices close, some agents quit, but the survivors move their licenses to another sinking ship, a ship that looks just like the last one and often with the exact same name on the bow.

A large franchise office closes its doors, no longer able to keep the lights on after more than a year of operating in the red. The agents are worried sick, not knowing what they will do, until their savior walks in the door.

A broker from a large bricks-and-mortar across town with the same franchise offers to take all the agents in with the exact same contract terms: each agent pays $600 per month and keeps 100% of their commissions. The agents sigh in relief and quickly sign the new contracts like sheep to the slaughter.

Since the broker can’t generate enough leads for the agents, and since the agents aren’t selling enough to make the broker enough money on commission splits, any kind of split wouldn’t make sense for the broker today. A sharp broker will charge each agent a monthly fee. He laughs all the way to the bank, because with 60 agents paying $600 per month, he’s making $36,000 a month just for living.

Three years ago I sat across the desk from a franchise broker who looked at me and said, “Well, we’re feeding the business every month. You have to do that when times are tough. But we’ve been through tough times before, and we always come out okay.” I remember thinking to myself that was a silly thing to say coming from a man who told me he had no business plan, no budget for marketing, and no written vision for the future of his business. Unfortunately, that same broker just issued a press release that he is permanently closing the doors of his bricks-and-mortar and will be hanging his license with another bricks-and-mortar. Another consolidation.

This broker is merely jumping from one sinking ship to one that hasn’t sunk yet. The new ship has plenty of leaks, and it may take a while for folks on the Titanic to wake up. Bricks-and-mortar real estate brokerages that stubbornly refuse to bridge the gap to an entirely new business model will die a slow and painful death. Its one thing for brokers to ride their own ship down, but it is quite another thing altogether for those brokers to sell tickets to real estate agents with promises they can’t keep.

The most unfortunate thing about all of this is that the agents who think they are doing what it takes to survive are only re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Many of them truly do not know or comprehend how precarious their fate is. Many of them do have an uncomfortable feeling, and they know something is wrong with their business model. Just like so many of the passengers on the Titanic near the end who smiled and kept saying, “Don’t worry, everything always works out alright,” traditional agents continue to greet people with a smile and wait for the phone to ring. But the ship is tilting, and they are at risk. They just don’t know what to do.

Lease Option Real Estate Investing: Advantages

One creative way to get started investing in real estate is to use a lease option. The biggest advantage of using lease options to invest in real estate is –control. This method of investing, basically gives the investor the right to possess — be in control of — and profit from a property without owning it.

A real estate lease option contract is a combination of two documents.

The lease part of the contract is where the owner agrees to let you lease their property, while you pay them rent for a stated period of time. During the lease period, the owner cannot raise the rent, rent it to anyone else, or sell the property to anyone else.

The option part of the contract represents the right you purchased to buy the property in the future, for a specific price. If you decide to exercise your option to buy, the owner has to sell it to you at the negotiated price. The option part of the contract obligates the seller to sell to you during the option period — but it does not obligate you to buy. You are only obligated to make rental payments as agreed during the lease period.

When the lease option contract is written and structured properly, it can provide tremendous benefits and advantages to the investor. If the lease option includes the “right to sub-lease”, the investor can generate a positive cash flow by renting the property to a tenant for the duration of his lease, or lease option the property to a tenant-buyer for positive cash flow and future profits. If the lease option includes a “right of assignment” the investor could assign the contract to another buyer for a quick profit.

Lease option real estate investing, is a flexible, low risk, highly leveraged method of investing that can be implemented with little to no money.

High Leverage

It is highly leveraged because you are able to gain control of a property and profit from it now–even though you don’t own it yet. The fact that you don’t own it, also limits your personal liability and personal responsibility. Only if you decide to purchase the property by exercising your “option to buy”, would you take title to the property.

Little to no money

The real estate investor’s cost to implement a lease option contract with the owner requires little to no money out of pocket, because it is entirely negotiable between investor and owner. Also, there are a variety of ways the option fee can be structured. It can be structured on an installment plan, balloon payment or other agreeable arrangement between both parties. The option fee can even be as little as $1.00.

In order to secure the property for purchase at a later date, tenant-buyers typically pay a non-refundable option fee of approximately 2%-5% of the negotiated future purchase price to the seller. Depending on how the lease option agreement is written and structured, the investor could possibly use the tenant-buyer’s option fee money to pay any option fee owed to the owner.


Lease option real estate investing is a flexible method of investing because the terms of the agreement, like payment amounts, payment dates, installments, interest rate, interest only payment, balloon payments, purchase price and other terms are all negotiated between seller and buyer. Responsibilities of both parties are also negotiable. For instance, if the investor doesn’t want to act in the capacity of a landlord, he could specify in the lease option agreement that tenant-buyer will be responsible for all minor maintenance and repairs and the original seller will remain responsible for any major repairs.