Buying a home is costly, especially in Arizona- a state that has experienced the highest spike in home value appreciation over the last two decades.
So, if you are purchasing a home in Arizona, there is not much you can do about the cost associated with it, unless… you opt to get a buyer rebate!
Buyer Rebate in Arizona can help you save thousands of dollars on your next home purchase, that too without compromising on the services you get. No, it is not a scam, and yes, it is legal.
Table of Contents
1. Home Buyer Rebate – what it is and How does it work in Arizona
First thing first, let’s help you understand…
1.1. What is a buyer rebate?
So, can a homebuyer rebate make homeownership in Arizona more affordable? The answer is yes!
If you aren’t qualifying for a mortgage or do not have enough cash to bring to closing, a homebuyer rebate is one of the best ways to maximize your savings. And even if you do not struggle with these two, what’s the harm in saving more money!
Now, the question arises: how does it work?
Well, you do not have to do anything out of the box to become eligible for homebuyer rebates. You just need to discuss its possibility when hiring an agent and go about the process as usual. The only thing that changes in this entire scheme of events is that you get money back in the form of cashback or credit at closing. 😊
|Note: Buyer agent commission rebate, buyer agent rebate, or home buyer refund are terms used interchangeably in transactions. But they mean the same thing. So do not get confused.|
You might be wondering where does this Rebate come from exactly, and why do agents agree to such a deal even if it means leaving money on the table?
To understand these ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ better, you must know how commission works in Arizona.
1.2. Real Estate Commissions in Arizona and How Do They Work?
Real estate agents in Arizona get paid on a commission basis. This means they do not charge a flat fee and instead take a percentage of the final sale price in exchange for their services and advice.
1.2.1. Who is involved in this transaction?
There are usually two real estate agents involved in a real estate transaction.
- Buyer’s agent: Represents the buyer and helps them grab the best deal on their dream home.
- Listing agent: Represent the seller’s interests- get maximum profit on the property quickly.
The motivations and end goal for both of these agents are the same- closing the deal. That’s because they only get paid if the deal goes through, earning roughly 5-6% of the home purchase price combined. (Arizona’s real estate commission is on the lower side, agents can expect to earn an average of 5.30% on every successful deal.)
So, does this commission gets split equally among the agents?
In most cases YES! But often times agents agree on varied commission splits based on the amount of work either one does to complete the deal
For example, if the sale price is $400,000, the buyer’s agent receives up to $12,000 (3% buyer’s broker commission) from the seller. This commission is further split in half in escrow (1.5%), and escrow will credit the buyer with $6,000 as the buyer’s share of the commission.
1.3. Who pays the agent commission in Arizona?
Technically, the seller pays the commission at the end of the deal.
However, it is well known that sellers decide on this fee when determining the asking price for a home. So technically, the agent commission is baked into the final purchase price, and the buyer is the one who pays for it.
1.4. Why does a buyer agent give rebates instead of reducing commissions?
Even if the buyer’s agent agrees to reduce the commission instead of providing a refund, it won’t affect or benefit you in any way.
That’s because the seller’s overall commission fee will not decrease as it is pre-decided in the listing agreement. So, ultimately, the remaining commission will go directly into the listing agent’s pocket, benefiting no one. Here is a diagram to help you understand the whole transaction in more detail.
To avoid this and still incentivize their clients, buyer agents offer refunds on the commission.
1.5. Where does the Rebate come from?
The home buyer rebate in Arizona comes from the commission earned by the buyer’s agent, as shown in the diagram above.
This is what happens:
- The sellers agree to pay around 5.3% commission to the listing agent when signing the agreement.
- When listing the property on the MLS or other online portals, the listing agent offers around half of this amount (2.65%) to agents who bring prospective clients.
- On successful closure of a deal, both the agents receive their share, i.e., 2.65% in commission. Your Rebate comes from this 2.65%.
Let’s understand this with an example.
Suppose you buy a house for $500,000; although the seller receives $500,000, he still needs to give $26,500 (taking the state average agent commission of 5.3% into account) to both agents. So, the listing agent receives $13,500 (50% of the commission), and the buyer’s agent gets the same amount.
So, your Rebate will come from this $13,500. Suppose the agent promised you a 50% rebate, then you get $6,625 as a rebate after the deal is closed successfully.
1.6. Why is your agent keen on giving you a buyer rebate in a competitive market?
Your agent might be willing to offer you a refund for the following reasons:
1.6.1. To attract buyers who will close the deal quickly
97% of today’s digital-first buyers use the internet to search for their d ream homes. A good percentage even successfully completed a home they saw online. Working with informed buyers can help them close deals faster and lower operational costs.
1.6.2. To compete in the market:
About 15% of agents across the country offer a commission in cash or closing credit to win more clients or gain an edge over the competition.
Hence, to survive in the market, more agents are offering buyer rebates than ever before.
1.6.3. Rebate builds loyalty
Unlike listing agents, buyer agents do not have exclusive contracts with their clients. Hence, they always run the risk of losing them.
Attractive rebates motivate buyers to stick around and ultimately close with an agent.
1.6.4. To sell homes that are otherwise challenging to sell
If a property is expensive or has been on the market for quite some time, selling it can be difficult.
Rebate is an excellent strategy as it helps agents attract new buyers for the property and motivate existing prospects to close the deal.
Source – 2
1.6.5. To compensate for High Brokerage Commissions
More than 4 in 10 buyers believe the real estate commissions are too high. To change this perception, agents usually offer rebates at closing that help buyers save thousands of dollars.
2. What is the average rebate buyer agents give in Arizona?
For Arizona, the average commission as of Nov 22 was 5.43%. A typical single-family home costs around $407,500, so the average Rebate in the state is around $5,531.
Source – 3
3. Is Rebate legal in Arizona?
Commission rebates are 100% legal in Arizona. They are approved by the United States Department of Justice and the Arizona Department of Real Estate. In Arizona, here are the benefits of availing of a rebate.
- Rebate is guaranteed in writing.
- The rebate offer is valid anywhere in Arizona.
- Even rebate brokers/agents give complete services and professional buyer representation.
Rules for Buyer Rebate in Arizona
- A rebate or other monies paid on behalf of the licensee to their client should be paid through escrow upon specific written instructions from the broker.
- The intent to pay such monies to a client should be reported to all parties involved.
- Some loan programs do not allow such rebates.
- “Cash Back” transactions are not appropriate unless the rebates are disclosed in the body of the contract; all parties (broker, loan officer, mortgage lender, title company, etc.) are fully aware of the monies being remitted to the client, and the funds are disclosed in the closing statement.
4. Where can you use buyer rebates?
- Closing costs
You can use your buyer rebate to cover some closing costs. Even for inexpensive homes, closing costs can easily be around $10,000. A buyer rebate helps you significantly reduce the total amount you will need to pay at closing.
You can cover various expenses with these credits, including home repairs, furniture, upgrades, etc.
- Moving Costs
Moving can drill a big hole in your pocket, especially if you shift from one state to another. With a rebate in place, you can cover these additional expenses without breaking a sweat. Even though a rebate won’t cover the full moving fee, it can still help you bear the financial burden.
- New Furniture
Homeowners can also use the Rebate for furniture shopping. You can buy anything from beds to sofas and even dressers depending on the amount you earn as a rebate.
- Emergency Savings
A little extra cash never hurts. Even if you have all your money in place and need no extra funds for closing, moving, etc., you can always use your Rebate as an emergency saving.
Source – 6
6. Is the Buyer Rebate right for you?
Getting a rebate can be a good deal for you if you are a seasoned real estate buyer. As you won’t need much handholding, it seems logical to compromise on expertise to save thousands on home purchases. However, if you are a first-time homebuyer, you should prioritize expertise over anything else.
Hiring the wrong agent can do you more harm than you imagine.
Without a professional agent’s assistance, you could easily end up paying too much for a home, purchasing a property in the wrong location, or overlooking defects.
So, while there is nothing wrong with receiving extra money at closing, you should always put expertise first.
Additionally, buyer rebates are highly regulated, especially for homes with a mortgage situation. That’s because, in such cases, the lender might have additional stipulations, especially if you are getting your Rebate as closing credits. We will discuss this in detail later.
Note: Never hide the rebate amount from your lender as failing to do so can cause financial falling, or worst, you can be arrested for mortgage fraud.
7. How much buyer rebate can I get on my property?
To determine how many rebate you are getting on a property, you must first find out the kind of Rebate you are getting. Is it a commission rebate on the selling price? Or a commission rebate on the buyer’s agent commission?
If it is a commission on the selling price (generally 0.5 – 1% of the final selling price), then the Rebate you will get will equal the commission on selling x final selling price.
For example, the property’s final selling price is $407,500, so you will get a rebate of $2037 (0.5% of $407,500).
However, if it is the latter, here is what you need to do:
Suppose the Home’s final purchase price is $407,500, and the commission percentage promised to agents is 5.43%. Of this 5.43%, 2.715% will be given to the buyer’s agent.
Commission earned by buyer’s agent = sales price x buyer’s agent commission
= $407,500 x 2.715%
Now, if the buyer agent offers you a 50% rebate, you will get $5,532 as a commission rebate.
If you want to calculate rebates for your property, you can use this rebate calculator by The U.S. Department of Justice to calculate the amount you will get.
Let’s wrap this up one last time with different purchase prices.
Model 1: Commission on Final Selling Price:
|Final Purchase price||Average commission of both realtors (5.43%)||Average commission of your realtor (2.65%) 50/50||The rebate you will get (suppose 75%)||The Rebate you will get (suppose 75%)|
Model 2: Rebate on Agent’s commission
If you receive a commission on the selling price (generally 0.5 – 1.5% of the final selling price), the Rebate you will get will equal the commission on selling x final selling price.
|Final Purchase price||Rebate offered on buying price (say 0.5%)||Rebate provided on buying price (say 1%)||Rebate provided on buying price (say 1.5%)|
You can also use Buyer Rebate Calculator by U.S Justice to calculate the estimated buyer rebate you can get in Arizona.
8. Are Rebates and Cashbacks Similar?
Contrary to popular belief, rebates and cashback are different. Here is how?
Most brokers and agents issue commission rebates as closing credits, which can only be spent in specific ways. These credits are subject to lender approval. Hence, rebates as closing credits can be used to cover one-time costs such as escrow, transfer, loan origination fees, etc., and/or buying points on your mortgage.
On the other hand, cashbacks usually flow through a third party and are given as cash or cheque at closing. Cashbacks are usually not an issue for the lender as they do not affect the cost basis. However, let your lender know about the cashback received to be safer.
9. Problems with the Arizona Real Estate Commission Rebate
9.1 Lenders can affect the situation
Getting your lender’s approval will be tough to crack if you have a mortgage situation.
Rebate usually affects the cost basis, which ultimately decreases your loan amount. If you have no idea what we are talking then here is everything to know.
The cost basis is the total amount you pay for your Home. This includes the home price, closing fee, and any other financial investments you make when buying a home.
Lenders use the cost basis to calculate the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which is the amount you borrowed vs. your Home’s value. Ideally, the lender tries to keep the LTV ratio at 80% or lower.
Covering some of the closing costs with the Rebate lowers the cost basis of your Home. Hence, your LTV changes. To adjust the LTV, ultimately, the lender has to lower the loan amount.
For example, for a $250,000 (cost basis of your Home) home, your lender offers you a home loan of $200,000 to keep the LTV ratio at 80% max (200,000/250,000 multiplied by 100). However, if you receive $5,000 as a buyer rebate (in closing credits), the overall cost basis of the Home decreases by $5,000.
Now, the current cost basis of a home turns out to be $245,000, while the actual home loan offered by your lender is $200,000. When you calculate the LTV ratio, i.e., (200,000 / 245,000) x 100, the ratio is 81.6% which is higher than what the lender initially calculated while offering you a home loan. Therefore, it is always safe to inform your lender if you get any rebate at closing to adjust the loan amount accordingly.
|Homebuyer commission rebate||Loan amount||Cost Basis||LTV ratio|
|$0||$200,000||$250,000||80% (just right)|
|$5,000||$200,000||$245,000||81.6% (very high)|
10. The Process to Get a Rebate
Step 1: Finalize a rebate
Do one of the following:
- · Work with a platform that negotiates rebates for you
- · Hire a discount broker that offers built-in rebates
- · Try to negotiate a rebate yourself
10.1.1. Top platforms or services in Arizona that will negotiate rebates for you or brokerages with rebate-giving agents
Working with an agent matching service/platform that offers built-in rebates or cash rewards is one of the best ways to get buyer rebates. It is simple, hassle-free, and without surprises.
Here are a few websites to explore:
1. Arizona Homes 411
Arizona homes offer 15% on the buyer’s commission for the Rebate on houses priced at $100,000 or more.
Working with a Home Smart realtor has many advantages, as it gives access to the latest technology to make buying easier. It has a solid reputation in the market, and its 100% commission to agents brings higher quality agents.
2. Champion Realty
Champion Realty offers their buyers 50% of the total sales commission as a rebate on both new and old homes. The Rebate is offered as closing credits (by the title company).
These credits can cover closing costs, new furniture, or anything you choose. It is essential to inform your lender about the Rebate since they have guidelines on how to use it.
With Sell By Owner Arizona, buyers can get up to 50% of the buyer’s broker commission as a rebate.
These rebates are offered on purchasing newly constructed homes, resale, foreclosure, or even a short sale.
SellByOwner Arizona has its brokers licensed to conduct real estate in Arizona. Their brokers are in good standing with the State and National Realtor’s Associations.
4. Arizona Team Realty
When you purchase a home with Arizona Team Realty, you receive 25% of the buyer’s broker commission as a buyer rebate.
While they offer buyer rebates, they do not compromise on the services provided. Hence, you can expect to get complete buyer representation from them. You can expect them to show you the Home of interest, write offers, negotiate on your behalf, coordinate home inspections, communicate with your lender, and represent your interest throughout the home-buying process.
5. Home Openly
Home Openly is an agent search and referral service platform that helps buyers by matching them with a relevant real estate agent.
It is free for agents, buyers, and sellers and has a good reputation with its clientele.
On Home Openly, you find those real estate agents who offer 50% of their commission as rebates.
6. The Cascade Team
The Cascade team or TCT Real Estate offers 0.5% of the home purchase price in the form of commission credit.
It allows you to use some of the commission towards your closing costs.
Note that TCT real estate requires your buyer rebate to be shown as an agent credit on HUD-1 to reduce the amount of your closing. Their buyer credit is subject to the lender’s approval, and there may be restrictions with VA and FHA loans. Also, the refund amount cannot be used for a down payment or to meet the capital reserve requirements of your loan program.
7. Doug Fuller Realtor
Doug Fuller Realtor offers AZ home buyers rebates in the form of 50% of the net real estate commission they receive as closing credits at the time of closing.
The AZ Home Buyer rebates program is open to home buyers who don’t have a current agreement with another agent/brokerage. Based on the reviews, realtors in this company are knowledgeable and wonderful to work with.
8. DPR Realty
DPR Realty is an AZ locally-owned real estate brokerage that offers a home buyer rebate of 1% on the property’s purchase price when they receive a minimum commission of 3%. Otherwise, the buyer rebate is less than 1% of the home purchase price.
The home buyer rebate is valid for residential new-sale and traditional residential resale properties. With DPR, buyer rebates are unavailable for short sales, lender-owned properties, or auctions. Based on the reviews, people feel that DPR Realty offers excellent service.
9. The Real Estate Saving Center
The Real Estate Savings Center offers the best home search options since it details MLS listings and new homes for sale in Phoenix.
Most of their network realtors are independent owners and brokers of full-service real estate companies. These networks of realtors offer their consumers a great combination of professional services and significant time & money savings.
10. New Home Rebates
New Home Rebates offers 2% cash back on the Home’s purchase price when the buyers reach out to them with a shortlist of homes.
The New Home Rebates program is focused on ‘do it yourself, where buyers take an active role in the initial home search. If you are not tech savvy or prefer an agent to walk you through the entire process, they refer you to the traditional agent who does not offer you a rebate.
New Home Rebates services are free for the buyer since agents/brokers pay all the fees to represent a buyer.
UpNest offers a free service that connects buyers with local real estate agents who can help them buy a home. It works with the top 5 % of agents in local marketing and matches you with the agents who compete for your business. But unlike other competitors, rebates aren’t guaranteed. Based on reviews, savings are very marginal, so you must negotiate with the real estate agent.
12. Mountain Lake Realty
Mountain Lake Realty offers a buyer rebate of up to $20,000 when buying a home through their agents, and you can get the entire buyer broker commission minus a small flat fee as a rebate. Based on the reviews, Mountain Lake Realty has excellent customer service and fast response time.
Homie is a real estate brokerage that offers up to a $2,500 rebate as a closing cost credit when you purchase a home through them. You can use this money for anything related to your homes, such as moving costs or furniture. When buying with Homie, you need to use the homie app to coordinate and schedule your tours.
10.1.2 Negotiate a Rebate Yourself
- One-on-one Negotiation
If you have already shortlisted an agent and want to negotiate a rebate, you should do that before agreeing to an agreement. This is because, post that, it is improbable that your agent will be willing to re-negotiate for a cut in their pay.
To ensure that, ask your agent if it is customary to offer a rebate; they usually may say no, that it never happens. But if you press them and say that you will walk away from the house, they will consider it seriously.
Because once you hang up the phone, the deal is lost. They will probably call the listing agent and discuss the options. The seller or the agent may push and get together to negotiate their commissions.
Remember that you have to be serious about walking away from the house because if you bluff, there are no chances of getting commissions.
If the agent is concerned that you will walk away, they will be willing to give up some of their hard-earned money to close the deal. Getting a 2% commission is better than nothing, so they may consider giving you a rebate.
When can you negotiate with an agent for a Rebate?
Of course, agent fees are, in theory, negotiable. But many agents are firm about what costs they expect or wouldn’t entertain in fee reduction unless they were handling two deals at once for you (helping you sell a home so you can buy another, for instance) or had done a lot of business with your social network.
These fees may sound steep, but shopping agents perform many duties regarding a home. They will research the market for you and show you multiple homes over many-week (or many-season) periods before writing and negotiating an offer for you. And when it comes to home selling, agents must use both quantitative and qualitative skills to help you price your Home and prepare it for sale.
Source – 6
10.1.1.2 Negotiate in a seller’s market
Here are the situations under which you may have to negotiate your buyer rebate:
- If you are buying a high-ticket home – Broker or agent will ask for high commissions for the same time invested as for a low-ticket home. In that case, you can negotiate with them to reduce the commission and ask them to refund a certain amount.
- Suppose it’s a low buyer demand area – Whether off-season or a cool market, buyer scarcity in a particular location can be advantageous for you. You become more valuable to them, and agents may be willing to offer some bonuses to secure your business with them.
- If you agree to buy or sell with the same agent – You become more valuable from a revenue perspective when you decide to purchase or deal with the same agent. The agent may be willing to offer a specific part of their commissions as a Rebate to secure your business.
- If you are ready to make an offer on a property – It helps the broker spend minimal time showing homes to the buyer and adds more scope of earning commissions to them. In such cases, the agent will be motivated to secure your business and offer some part of their commission as a Rebate which can save you thousands.
Step 2: Read and sign the buyer broker agreement
If you are buying for the first time, the agent will present a ‘buyer’s broker agreement’ document to solidify a working agreement between a buyer and a real estate agent.
Buying a home will most likely be the biggest purchase in your life, so it is essential to know what goes into the contract with your agent.
Here are a few things to consider in your contract:
- Some buyer refunds require the agent to get a commission before getting a refund.
- All rebates should come from the gross commission. Few offer it as a check at closing, while others provide you with a refund.
- Some brokerages will reduce your refund if you visit the ‘x’ number of homes.
- Some brokerages only rebate if your purchase price is overset the amount.
These conditions are usually hidden in your written agreement with your agent, so read them carefully.
Step 3: Close on a house
Once you have found your dream house and are clear with the agreement, you can close on a house by signing a buyer-broker agreement. This agreement will outline the refund terms and state that you agree to purchase your Home, with the broker offering you a refund.
Step 4: Get your Rebate!
Each brokerage has its way of giving refunds to its client. Some brokers will refund the amount at closing, while others offer a cheque for the refunded amount. Either way, you end up saving thousands.
11. Increase your chances of a Rebate by doing this!
Here are a few things to look for to maximize your chances of a Rebate:
- Do some work for your agent
If you have already done the hard work of finding a home, the buyer’s agent will be willing to reduce their commissions in the form of a rebate.
- Use the same agent to sell your property.
The agent will be willing to offer you a discount since he will earn commissions from both transactions.
- Buy a property that the seller is selling.
Dual agency is not legal in every state. There’s an inherent agent conflict since the agent represents the seller, too, so make sure you understand the risks before agreeing to a dual-agency sale.
12. Is the buyer agent rebate taxable or tax-free?
According to the IRS, the Rebate paid to a home buyer is an adjustment in the price and therefore is not taxable income to the buyer. This Rebate amount can be used at closing costs based on the lender’s approval.
Source – 7
13. How to determine whether I am eligible for a buyer rebate?
Anyone that buys a house through an agent or broker is eligible for a rebate.
14. Can a real estate agent rebate a portion of the agent’s commission to the borrower?
According to HUD, real estate agents may rebate a portion of the agent’s commission to the borrower in a real estate transaction. The Rebate must be listed as a credit on page 1 of the HUD-1 in lines 204-209, and the name of the party giving the credit must be identified. Real estate agents or broker commission rebates to borrowers do not violate Section 8 of RESPA if no part of the commission is tied to a business referral.
15. Should Rebate be the sole choosing factor for a realtor?
Rebates aren’t going to be a guarantee of a good realtor, and some realtors might be struggling to manage their public image and may choose to provide refunds. But many tech-savvy agents and brokers have built their business models around rebates.
Look at the reviews and reputation and speak with multiple agents before deciding who you want to work with.
16. How can I save more money as a first-time home buyer in Arizona?
First-time homebuyers sometimes have trouble finding a mortgage because of credit history issues or don’t have additional money to make a down payment. That’s where the national loan programs available to 50 states come in handy.
Home loan programs offered nationally by various lenders also have features to help you qualify for a mortgage. Below are loan and assistance options for first-time home buyers:
- Conventional mortgage
This is best for low down payments and has limited mortgage insurance premiums. They allow down prices as low as 3% for first-time or lower-income homebuyers. It allows borrowers to eventually cancel their mortgage insurance if they put in at least a 20% down payment. A conventional mortgage is a home loan that the federal government doesn’t guarantee or insure.
- FHA Loans
It is best for low credit scores and low down payments. The Federal Housing Administration allows a down payment as low as 3.5% for credit scores of 580 or above. The FHA will insure loans for borrowers with scores as low as 500 but requires a 10% down payment. Mortgage insurance is necessary for the life of an FHA loan and cannot be canceled.
- VA Loans
This is best for the military and provides low-down-payment options. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans, and surviving spouses to buy homes. It offers competitive interest rates, often requiring no down payment or mortgage insurance. However, there is no official minimum credit score, and most VA-approved lenders score at least 640.
- USDA Loans
It is best for rural and urban home buyers with almost zero down payment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issues these loans through the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. Applicants with credit scores of 640 or higher receive streamlined processing. Those below that credit score need more stringent underwriting standards.
17. What is the difference between a buyer commission rebate and a first-time homebuyer rebate?
First-time homebuyer credit has many forms, like home buyer rebate. It depends on the state where it is offered. Many states have programs for first-time home buyers, and most provide the option to put less money as a down payment without dealing with higher interest rates or mortgage insurance. Some states also offer tax credits you can use on your federal tax return.
Rebates are a unique way to get cashback on a home purchase and attract more customers by giving them a portion of the buyer agent’s commission. It is becoming popular, especially in the buyer’s market. Tax-free cashback makes it easier to move financially. There are around 40 states that allow this practice. So, next time you buy a new home, check for the state laws and get the most benefit out of it.