Exploring Innovative Single-Agent Business Models

RealTrends, July 9, 2021

The Thousand rankings are in and these three real estate professionals buck the norm with innovative single-agent business models. Spoiler alert: They’re controversial, but it pays to know your competition.

Uber and Lyft challenged the traditional business model of taxis. Airbnb and Vrbo took on the traditional business model of hotels. Of course, residential real estate also is home to tradition-bending business models like Homesnap, Orchard, Redfin and Zillow.

Innovation doesn’t just happen among the brand-name players in residential real estate, though. But, these single-agent business models, despite being controversial, have done just that. Ben Caballero of HomesUSA.com, Ralph Harvey of ListWithFreedom.com and Jason Saphire of EntryOnly.com have achieved success in both sales volume and transaction sides by operating single-agent business models that depart from the norm. All three men rank highly on RealTrends’ latest The Thousand list.

So, what makes Caballero, Harvey and Saphire highly successful? You can chalk it up to a combination of ingenuity, technology and determination.

Ben Caballero, founder and CEO of Dallas-based HomesUSA.com, No. 1 in sales volume and transaction sides

Ben Caballero opens the door for high-volume homebuilders to sell their homes.

In business since 2007, HomesUSA.com handles new-home sale listings for dozens of builders throughout Texas so builders can avoid the day-to-day tasks associated with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) — changing construction dates, updating photos, monitoring days on market and so forth.

“What we do is we make it very easy for them to initiate a request for a new listing or change an existing listing,” he says.

When it comes to those listings, HomesUSA.com focuses on both speed and accuracy, Caballero says, and on keeping builders informed. Every Friday, HomesUSA.com provides its homebuilder clients a rundown of all their homes in the MLS grouped by subdivision, complete with information such as commission rates and the sale status of each home.

Sixteen IT and data professionals work on the platform, along with Cabellero and several marketing folks. All sales run through Cabellero.

“Builders’ core competency is building homes, and a lot of them, all they know about the MLS is that they think they should have their homes in MLS,” Caballero says. “We have builders that say they don’t know what they would do without us. They’ve embraced us and made us part of their operation.”

It’s a business model that clearly produces results. Caballero racked up nearly $2.47 billion in sales (breaking his own world record) and 6,438 transactions in 2020. HomesUSA.com collects a flat fee for each listing.

That’s an eye-popping accomplishment, to be sure. Yet Caballero isn’t satisfied with maintaining the status quo. For example, HomesUSA.com strives to accommodate builders’ requests to tweak the platform, he says, enabling builders to fine-tune their marketing efforts and budgets.

Budgetwise, Caballero believes HomesUSA.com, one of several single-agent business models in the rankings, represents a solid investment. According to research conducted by WAV Group, HomesUSA.com saved its builder clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth market an average of $776 in commission per listing from 2017 to 2019. For the three-year period, those savings exceeded $8.2 million…more.