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ZIPRealty/ HomeGain - broken promises in Real Estate

I was looking to buy a house in Salt Lake, Utah and since I live in California, I decided to use to find listings and an agent. I knew from a friend that agents on ZIPRealty work for less than the typical 3% commission, e.g. they work for 2% and give the difference of 1% to you, the buyer. (The seller still has to pay the full 3% to the buyer's agent.)
Right now ZIPRealty's web site says "We give you 20% of our commission - That would typically be $1,800 on a $300,000 home!". This corresponds to a 0.6% of the purchase price. Still a nice sum.
I had also visited ZIPRealty's web site before when I looked for real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area and I had really liked their site. Complete access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), with much information revealed. There are many sites that show you the MLS but they differ in regards how much information of the property is given to you without selecting an agent first.

Back to my Utah project.

Unfortunately ZIPRealty does not have a license for Utah (yet) so for this state (and a few others, I presume) they team up with another site,

To make it short, I am very dissatisfied with HomeGain does not offer access to the MLS but only offers to find you agents: real estate agents and loan brokers.

Homegain's start page advertises in big letters:
"Choose HomeGain and get up to $1000 Cash Back!"

I told Homegain where I wanted to buy and they sent me over 15 real estate agents' contact information each with a more or less personal letter replying to my request. I talked to a few of them and chose the one who seemed to have time for me, yet also was experienced.

Turns out the $1000 cash back require:
- you pick a real estate agent from them
- you get the loan from them

I actually let them send me some loan broker but his terms were too expensive. I guess he had to make up for the $1000 (?) that he pays to HomeGain for the referral.

I ended up buying a house for $160,000 - that's $4,800 commission for my realtor. Of these $4,800 my realtor had to give $1,500 or $1,600 to HomeGain (I don't remember).
So I figured if HomeGain got $1500 or $1600 on this deal, they could surely give me the $500 they advertised.

Now it turns out that you have to make 2 transactions with HomeGain in order to get anything. Exactly, I would not even get $250. 2 transactions is fine for people who sell their house and buy another one but it is bad news for people like me who just buy.

ZIPRealty does not have such limitations. ZIPRealty is very clear that you get a percentage of their commission as described above. HomeGain does not state directly that you won't get ANYTHING unless you make two transactions.

I inquired about this with their customer service and they sent me some form letter that does not really reflect my situation. The first email's subject line is wrong already.

The second email talks about a 'free gift link' but I could not figure out where this free gift link is located. It is neither in the email itself nor is it on their web site.

I sent another email asking 'where is the free gift link' but they did not reply.

Date:	 Mon, 22 Aug 2005 10:13:35 -0700
 Subject: Thank you for using HomeGain to buy and sell a home
 Dear Peter,
 Thank you for using HomeGain agent(s) to close on two home transactions.
 To get up to $500 in cash back from HomeGain, you must fax us the
 HUD1 form or Settlement Statement for at least TWO transactions.
 Fax these to us with your user name clearly visible (ptiemann2005)
 Fax Number:(510) 655-5673
 When we have received this information and confirmed your eligibility,
 we will send you a check.
 HomeGain is a licensed real estate broker., Inc.
 1250 45th Street, Suite 200
 Emeryville, CA 94608
 From:	"Agent" <>
 To:	"'peter tiemann'" <>
 Subject: RE: Thank you for using HomeGain to buy and sell a home
 Date:	Tue, 23 Aug 2005 11:34:18 -0700
 Thank you for contacting HomeGain. If you have completed 1 transaction 
 with a HomeGain agent you are entitled to free coupons, which can be
 accessed through the free gift link.  If you have completed 2 or more
 transactions you are eligible for a free cash gift up to $500.00. 
 To receive your free gift please complete the free gift info as well
 as fax in the your HUD-1 statements (both pages) so we can review your
 You can fax this directly to 510-655-0848.
 Attention: Customer Relations. 
 If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us.
 Qualifications are as follows: 
 1. Transaction with a HomeGain agent equals free coupons.  
 2. Transactions with one or more HomeGain agents gets you up to $500.00
 3. Transactions with one or more HomeGain agents while utilizing
    PriceLine Mortgage gets you up to $1000.00
 Da'Mali Ross
 Customer Relations Specialist
 1250 45th Street - Suite 200
 Emeryville, CA 94608
 Phone: (888) 542-0800
 Fax: (510) 655-0848

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