Hawaii Homebuyers and Sellers to Save Money With New Real Estate Company

Buyers get rebate, sellers charged 3 percent commission

Last Sunday, Japanese businessman Takeshi Sekiguchi launched a new real estate company that can help Hawaii homebuyers purchase property, then refunds them the 3 percent commission usually paid to the buyer's brokerage (which employs the agent). As you might guess, that caused a lot of consternation in the real estate community and generated more than 1,000 customer inquiries — mostly Mainland buyers — in the first three days.

Well, Hawaii realtors are in for a new surprise. This morning, Sekiguchi announced that his company’s listing commission is 3 percent, whereas the standard listing commission is 6 percent.

In addition, if you are just trying to get more online exposure for your listing, you can post your property for free on his website, and the company will only charge you a fee if it sells through their site.

“If you post your listing on another site and it sells through them, of course we don’t charge you,” he says.

Sekiguchi explains that his model is not much different from the big national real estate sites like Zillow and Trulia, which operate as all e-commerce with no real estate agents involved.

“Those sites generate revenue from ads,” he says. “Real estate sites like Redfin, which have Realtors assisting, refund buyers only half the commission. Here, we will generate revenue from real estate as well as ads.”

Sekiguchi has put up $50 million in capital to create his new company, called SRE Matrix Inc. (The "SRE" in the name stands for Smart Real Estate.) There are about 10 agents, all paid a salary between $3,000 and $5,000 a month, plus a bonus based on customer satisfaction — not sales.

“I want the agents to be focused on customer service, not getting the sale,” he says.

Other revenue is expected to come through collaborations with companies that provide mortgage, insurance, escrow, appraisals, management, and other related vendors willing to pay for promoting their services to SRE homebuyers.

“People think I’m crazy for starting this company,” says Sekiguchi with a laugh. “You know what’s crazy? Paying that 6 percent commission.”

What do traditional real estate agents think? They've got questions. What are yours?