USAA's REAL ESTATE REWARDS NETWORK

15 Replies

Has anyone ever joined the USAA Real Estate Rewards Network?

A few highlights from the description of the program:

  • Access to a select group of top-performing real estate agents who help you through the home buying or selling experience. Agents undergo thorough training to ensure they understand the unique needs of USAA members. They're put through a stringent background check and receive training through an award-winning "Agent Advantage" certification program. Our network agents have 33% more experience than average, handle 80% more real estate volume and have twice as much continuing education. 
  • Access to a dedicated real estate coordinator, kind of like your personal real estate concierge, who works closely with your agent as a team, is available to answer your questions and guides you through the buying and selling process. The goal: to ensure you are getting excellent service and are satisfied throughout the entire home buying or selling experience. 
  • And to top it off, you can get a $350 to $24,000 reward when you buy or sell your home through the program. The average reward is $1,230 — more if you buy and sell. 

Note: I'm new to RE investing and currently assessing my financing options.  I called them to discuss lending options, then found this program via their website.

Please share your experience regarding this program. Thanks in advance.

@Violet Minnella , I have not specifically used the program that you are talking about, but my experience is that they are only really good for insurance and banking and they are not nearly as competitive in those areas as they used to be. They just aren't the same company that they used to be. I would definitely not recommend them for lending, they are awful. In terms of the program you are asking about, I would crunch the numbers but be very wary of their statistics touting how great they are.

This is going to be geared heavily towards retail buyers.

top performing agents have goals that are not aligned with an investor. They want to close quick, and they want you emotional, these are their normal business operations. Do they want to help me analyze ARV or run countless comps just so I can squeeze out as low a purchase price as possible? Unliklely

dedicated real estate coordinator, I'm sure this is fine to teach about RETAIL real estate, but I would be astonished if the person had any investment background or first hand knowledge. Investors are the niche in real estate, USAA is building programs for their clients which is good, but their clients are retail buyers.

as for the 'reward', just know that you're paying for that reward. I hope it comes as no surprise to you that USAA is in it for the profit, not the charity. They aren't giving you anything you haven't already paid above and beyond for

when you're new it's easy to use the retail part of the industry as a stepping stone. I certainly did. Nothing wrong with it, but it's unlikely you'll get much investing information and you'll likely have to buy a retail house which won't be as profitable, but they sure will make it easy.

@Violet Minnella , no problem. They did not used to actually lend on 1st Mortgages and I doubt that has changed. They just put you in touch with a company called PHH. That was years ago though. I had a couple of HELOCs with them and could not be more disappointed in the way they treated me as a long long time customer with not insignificant assets with them. Too bad, they used to be the cream of the crop, but have since sold their souls. 

I’ve used it. Not appropriate for investing, geared towards homebuyers. It is a referral network that puts you in contact with an “approved” RE agent in your area. The cash back is the referral fee the agent pays to USAA for the contact which USAA gives to you. Not a bad deal , especially if the agent you want is already in the network and you ask to be referred to him.

Ben

I used it when I bought my house a few months ago, they put me in contact with an agent and I used him to find/close on my house.

I ended up using a different lender (not USAA) and because I signed up for the program at the beginning they still gave me the cash reward (~$1000).

Worked great for me, as I just see it as free money. Highly recommend

@Mattison Gossett thank you for your feedback. Can I ask if it was a Home you purchased or an investment? Sounds like you used one of their buyer agents to find the place, and I’m wondering what’s in it for them with a program like this. ‘Cause yeah, sounds like free money :)

I used USAA Real Estate rewards once and it was okay but you have to remember that cashback comes out of the Real Estate Agents already hefty commission. Below are two coarse of actions I'd recommend from my experience to get the maximum cash back in Real Estate acquisitions. 

1. Become you own Real Estate Agent - Thats an automatic 3% discount on all purchases and sales 

2. Be a hardline negotiator with your Real Estate Agent - You can negotiate just about everything on the Agency Representation contracts, even refunds of the buyers agent commission. Ive been able to negotiate 50% commission back on the buy side and a fixed fee on the sell side. 

Just my two cents. 

@kylebergren
Just my two cents is funny.  Here is my two cents.  As a prior USAA insurance agent, I was appalled when I realized how the program worked.  It is now discontinued.   But alive and well many places such as banks, credit unions, etc and it does not benefit the consumer overall.  Most consumers are ignorant of real estate transactions so do not even have the knowledge to know if their agent is good or not.  Just did the agent make them happy. 

USAA: At that time taking 40% of the agents commissions and giving the seller / or buyer a flat fee back from $600+ based upon sales price.  $600 up to $350k sales price. $1250 higher sales price to me was a rip off.  PLUS the agent has to be with specific brokerages to be on their "preferred" agent list.  Based upon not how many sales they have had, how much experience they have, whether they are active in your area...just will they pay a large referral back to USAA for introducing you to them.   Now do you think that means that in most cases, you are directed to an agent within "their network" who is willing to work for half price to show you homes and negotiate the deal are eager to jump and put in extra effort or deliver the best service? While some talented and experienced agents may be included in the selection list, many are new, or part-time agents that are happy to have business. Any business, no matter the cost.

As an agent long before I became an investor, I really have to laugh at your remark about hefty commissions.  What about your hefty profit on flipping or investing?   Should you be offended if an agent asked you to give up part of your profit to sell their house?  You build the normal commission into your figures when you buy/ sell a house.  So are you trying to keep more for yourself?
Any agent you are hard line negotiating with on commissions deserves you as a client because you are probably one of those sellers who are smarter than the agent.  

Most investors are tire kickers.  When I first started working with investors I have shown as many as 20 houses to one who never bought a single one. I have spend hours searching for homes, doing CMAs for NO money so don't be surprised when agents don't give you their best work.
I avoid investors except for the few that understand and value my time.

So while you think I make too much as a real estate agent, you don't begin to understand my job and the time and work done behind the scenes.  So keep using the agents who have the time to waste for less money.

I am sure you think you work hard for your money but  I have seen many investors who do shoddy jobs or less than quality on their flips and price like they are gold plated so let's not call the kettle black.  As I am sure you do quality work, I do also so don't disparage my income and I won't disparage yours.  We can always paint everyone with the same brush but I prefer not to.

Been in investor trainings and listened to investors who think they have the knowledge to use services like ListingSpark and do a good job.  Tried to explain to one that some -not all-agents don't show listing with lower buyers commission and he wanted to argue with me about it was our fiduciary duty to show all.  Laugh.  Too bad investors don't have a fiduciary duty to flip a house with quality to match the asking price. What the uninformed investor did not understand is fiduciary duty or not, people are human and hungry agents may be a bit more inclined to steer their clients to a higher commission house sale.   And it can be done the same way that flippers hide their less than perfect work. Before I was an investor knowledgeable agent I would always highly caution my clients about buying a flip home because "you never know what is behind the walls; this could be lipstick on a pig."

Also had to laugh, had a CA client that I needed to do a preview of Listingspark owner home with a normal buyer commission.  Hard to get in because he screwed up the lockbox and didn't answer his phone promptly so I drove 40 miles on a  couple of occasions to view.  I took pics but was quick to point out to my buyer that  I was sure she wouldn't like the entry.  She agreed.  At my heart I knew I did not want to deal with an owner but I would if the house was good for them.  FSBOs are a pain in the arse.  Have to do double the work for normal commission and possibly exposing your license more because of the lack of knowledge of the FSBO.  All agents LOVE to deal with a knowledgeable good agent.  Makes the transaction so much smoother and quick.

I am a Realtor who does not discount my work and my clients get my full attention and knowledge.  Be their homes good or investor quality.  I will discount but only for preferred clients and multiple transactions.  I don't advertise and I don't participate in group referrals.  Been there done that.  And I do plenty of "free" work for past clients.

So I say to the people who think we have hefty commissions, I say and you don't?  Do you think you are overpaid at your work?  
I would probably say there a lot of investors out there that make heftier money than agents and they don't do more work if you want to consider the amount of work the criteria for making money.  Or is the criteria knowledge and expertise at solving problems?  Such as any professional.

So to me your remark was insulting to all agents.  


@Violet Minnella if you’re able to get friendly with a local agent most likely they would be happy to give you 25% of the profit they make off the sale.

I’m not an agent but currently I am working with an agent in Colorado Springs, CO (I’m at Fort Carson) and he gives me a 25% kickback to people I refer to him. In turn, I tell people if they use my agent I’ll split the 25% with them!

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