A residential real estate brokerage is setting up shop in downtown Akron — and is working on a business model that they believe could change the industry not just in Northeast Ohio, but across the country.
“The experience surrounding people’s transition from home to home often is very stressful and negative,” says Kevin Waise, Exactly’s founder and managing broker. “If you were able to have a great experience going into [your new home], it would just catapult you into having a great experience when you are living in your home. I would love for that to happen.”
Traditionally, when you buy or sell a house, you hire a real estate agent to help manage the sale. That real estate agent’s pay is based on the amount of money that changes hands when you sell your existing house or buy your new house. So, instead of agreeing to a certain fee up front, you agree to pay them a commission — a certain percentage, often around 3% for both the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent, of whatever the sale price turns out to be. (Typically the seller pays both agents, meaning they spend about 6% of the sale price on real estate agent commissions.)
Exactly, Akron’s new brokerage, charges a flat fee instead. Sellers pay $4,800, which covers listing and marketing the house, negotiating with buyers and finalizing the sale. There are add-on options for open house services and marketing with more bells and whistles, like drone footage.
Sellers also decide how much they will pay the buyer’s agent, with advice from Exactly.
If you’re buying a home, you can also hire Exactly. But because sellers usually pay both real estate agents involved in a home sale, homebuyers do not have to pay Exactly agents.
Sellers still have to pay third-party fees, but the $4,800 covers all the services for listing the home, whether their house is worth $70,000 or $700,000. The median home sale in the city of Akron was $103,000 in October, according to data from Redfin. Exactly’s pitch is that the real estate agents selling all these homes have to do roughly the same amount of work, so they ought to earn the same amount of money.
For context, $4,800 would be about 3% of $160,000. So if your home is valued at more than that, you could save money with Exactly; if less, you’d probably spend more with Exactly than with a traditional agent.
On Dec. 12, the Exactly website had three active listings, ranging from a $149,900 house in central Cuyahoga Falls to a $733,000 house on five acres in Wadsworth.
“If money’s the most important thing to you, you probably shouldn’t hire us,” he says. “If the most important thing is having a consistent product, a system of consistent service, that’s been utilized time and time again, and everybody’s doing everything the same and there’s a team of people that back you up behind it, and you want to feel that all the way through, that you have people you can trust… by being able to change the same price, I think that signals to the consumer that we’re doing everything the same.”
Exactly currently employs two real estate agents, Patrick Barmann and Benny Kantorowski. Both said they are currently paid on commission, but ultimately, Exactly hopes for all its agents to be salaried employees.
Benny says he spent nine years as a real estate agent with Keller Williams before joining Exactly.
His ideal customer, Benny says, “would be the person that sees it differently. They already are educated with Zillow and [other tools]; people can figure out what we used to have to figure out for them. It would be working together with people who want to have a good time and enjoy this, and [who] understand: It will be stressful, but that’s OK, we’ll do some yoga and do some art and relax about it.”
Exactly is headquartered on the sixth floor of the Malone Building on Main Street across from Lock 3 and the forthcoming Bowery apartments. Kevin describes the team as part of a coming downtown renaissance.
“Number one, we love being down here. It’s super cool. I feel like we’re going to be able to, out of this office, we’re going to be able to create a really awesome place, particularly for millennials. I think that’s who’s going to be really attracted to coming to work here,” Kevin says. “Being able to build something downtown here, and then with the Bowery going in, I think our ability to attract employees is going to be really awesome.”
In three years, Kevin says, he hopes Exactly will have “a considerable market share in Summit County.” Beyond that, he hopes to expand the company into Cuyahoga County, then to the rest of the state and beyond.
To learn more about Exactly, visit ExactlyUSA.com.
Rosalie Murphy is editor-in-chief of The Devil Strip and, as it happens, a former real estate reporter.