By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Rocks thrown through windows, cars keyed and furious voicemails. The CEO of a startup Denver real estate company says that’s some of the collateral damage of his business model after five years.

“I think a lot of agents are fearful so some have come to the solution that threatening or harm is the best way,” said Joshua Hunt of Trelora, a disruptive real estate company that has traditional real estate agents angry and refusing to show homes listed for sale by Trelora.

“I think we are out to change the industry”, said Hunt. ”We’re coming and every agent who wants to laugh at us, we welcome the laughter.”

Joshua Hunt (credit: CBS)

Trelora — a play on the word realtor with the letters jumbled — offers home sellers the opportunity to list and sell their home for a flat $2,500 fee as opposed to the traditional 2.8 or 3 percent commission selling agents typically collect.

CBS4’s Brian Maass interviews Joshua Hunt. (credit: CBS)

Trelora also says home sellers can decide to offer agents representing buyers just $2,500 in contrast to their typical 3 percent commission.

Hunt acknowledges that as many as 40 percent of buyer agents are refusing to show Trelora listings, an expression of their displeasure with the low Trelora commissions.

“We believe 40 percent of agents will go out of their way to not show your home if there’s a Trelora sign in the yard “, said Hunt. “It’s a disservice at the highest level to your client.”

Multiple Denver realtors confirmed to CBS4 that real estate agents are not showing their clients Trelora homes.

CBS4’s Brian Maass interviews Nancy Griffin. (credit: CBS)

“There are some buyer agents who don’t show that property,” said Nancy Griffin, a RE/MAX realtor. “If you do a job and do it well you expect to be paid for it.”

Nancy Griffin (credit: CBS)

Trelora believes the customary 2.8 to 3 percent commissions are a relic of the past, as so many buyers identify homes they are interested in by searching online themselves and the company believes there is less for real estate agents to do. Likewise, Trelora believes sellers would rather skip spending money on marketing campaigns and pocket those savings themselves.

Hunt said last year Denver real estate agents collected $1.2 billion in commissions on home sales. He said those commissions should have been around $200 million.

Denice Reich, who has been a Denver realtor since 1974, says she typically spends $5,000 marketing a new listing.

(credit: CBS)

“How do they expose those listings with $2,500 fees? You can’t do it. Impossible,” said Reich. “You get what you pay for. You don’t go out and hire the cheapest brain surgeon. This is your house.”

How angry are traditional real estate agents with the disruptive Trelora model? The company shared with CBS4 several recordings of realtors who called the company to express their displeasure at the business model that is cutting into commissions.

Denice Reich (credit: CBS)

“You’re pissing off every broker that wants to show your house so nobody wants to show your house,” screamed one realtor in a phone call taped by Trelora.

“I don’t give a (expletive) what happens to your company. I hope it burns. It will. I don’t even have to hope for it. Your business model sucks,” yelled the broker.

Hunt said that call was not unique and he wants realtors and agents to know their angry calls will be taped and disseminated.

”We will record them and make it public. We absolutely will,” said Hunt.

(credit: CBS)

Realtors contacted by CBS4 said for the most part their full-service approach justifies a higher commission.

“If you as a seller need a handyman or a contractor, I would know those people and would be able to help you with that,” said Griffin. “If you’re making the minimum on something, are you giving your all to the cause?”

Reich said her experience in the market is a difference maker for clients.

“Experience in my opinion is everything — and marketing.”

Hunt says after five years in the Denver market his company is doing well and is considering expanding to other states.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

Comments (11)
  1. Matt Michels says:

    The fact that she literally cannot fathom how you’d market a home for $2,500 rather than $5,000 suggests that she has more than a few things to learn about marketing in the 21st century.

    Good luck to Trelora, not that they’ll need it. It doesn’t matter what realtors think of the business model—it matters what consumers think.

  2. John Smiths says:

    I used Trelora on a new build purchase and they were great, saved a bunch and builder didn’t like it, and that’s exactly the way it should be. Thanks Trelora keep the “professional Realtor…Sales folk” on their toes. Hahahaha laughing to the bank

  3. Larry Funk says:

    Just closed my Arvada home with Trelora. 20 showings in one weekend with 2 offers and 2 additional considerations that backed off when they heard of the offers. Great guys and they did everything that a traditional agent would have done. Bought a car with what I would have spent on BA commissions. I wish them well!

  4. Jay Alanby says:

    I expect these clowns to be out of business soon. Their agents are incompetent. The general public does not know any better since they don’t work in the industry. Trelora does not do a good job.

  5. Guy Kelley says:

    Here in California we had *Help You Sell* in the 80’s, since then they went out of business. They were around long enough to muck it up for the rest of the companies, selling at a flat $2500.00 There model was exactly the same as these guy’s, all thinking they were the perfect answer to the game. and failed miserably at it, because of poor business practices, poor management and forgetting about why they were in business in the first place. Making fair and reasonable profits, by providing great service and attention to detail, with both the seller and buyer in mind. If they bother to come here in CA. They will get slaughtered ! Stupid is as stupid dose !

  6. I had a friend who used Trelora to sell her home. While they were tremendously helpful prior to putting the house on the market, once it came time negotiate a contract, they failed my friend in every way. She stated up front that she needed a minimum of a 30 day lease back, or a delayed closing, they did none of those for her. In she had to clean out 19 years of stuff, pack and move in 3 weeks. They were nearly negligent and certainly did NOT perform their fiduciary duties to my friend. It goes to show you that “you get what you pay for”.

  7. Sue Cole says:

    Trelora has sold 3 homes for me…it was AMAZING each and every time! Realtor’s stealing 5-6% of a home owner’s hard earned equity is beyond greed. They don’t earn their keep, but would like for you to think it’s a magical event that they found the house YOU actually found online, or that the hard work YOU put into your house is 5% theirs….SICK business!

  8. suepyr says:

    Sad to see such greed in the Realtor’s….they don’t earn that 6%. They don’t paint my house, they don’t mow my lawn or keep it in pristine condition….now people don’t even need Realtor’s. People are finding their own houses online. Realtor’s comments saying “they don’t short their selves…how greedy they are. Comparing themselves to Brain Surgeons….how ridiculous! There’s no “special magic powers” to being a realtor. My mother was one in her day. I earned to right to keep as much of my equity as I can! Trelora has sold THREE of my houses and I am ECSTATIC about the experience. I will NEVER hire a hollow self serving full commission realtor again!

  9. I am not a realtor so I do not “have a dog in this fight”. Assumptions on comments: Matt Michels: if she (Denise Reich) cannot fathom how you can market a home for $2,500 opposed to $5,000, it is your assumption she hasn’t stepped into the 21st century. Mr. MIchels, you know anything about Denise Reich? Perhaps, you should research her. Yes, she is successful and one of the most respected agents in the business. Could it be she knows what she is doing or others use her because they are simply ignorant? Your research will show otherwise.

    supyr – Sad to see such greed in Realtors? They don’t earn 6%. The total commission is around 6% for both sides of the transaction. The 6% is their gross income, not net income. If your mother was a full-time realtor, she would have worked hard and you would have respected her efforts and not have viewed her a self-serving, greedy person. (What horrible thing did your mother do to you?) I hear it too often. If you are successful, you are greedy. It is easy to discount the efforts of others into something bad, greedy or evil, especially if it equates to money. (Hitler convinced many people to believe this about the Jewish population in Europe.) Also, Maybe you have confused roles. Real estate people sell your house, you keep maintain it so it keeps its value.

    Trelora business model is not new. It has been around for 30+ years. Most all flat fee companies have failed. However, they can have their place. In comparison, with E*Trade you can trade stock for a flat fee. Think about this, do you want your pension plan or Company’s contribution plan to use this business model too? Trelora may have worked for you but history shows, 80% + of sellers will choose a traditional realtor for a reason. These sellers are not stupid and you are not enlightened. Realtors are not greedy. They are just trying to provide for their family and are not different from you.

  10. Isn’t it interesting (no, not really) that most of the negative reviews are from realtors, and Trelora’s customers seem to love them? Especially in a hot market like Denver, does an agent really deserve $15000 for helping sell a $500k house? And another $15k for the buyer’s agent? What’s wrong with giving people the choice of who to use, after so many years of being forced to either pay the 6%, or handling everything FSBO? These people have filled a niche. Kudos to them!

    1. And Nancy Griffin saying “what if you need a handyman…I know those people”? I’d feel much better going to HomeAdvisor to find someone. Besides, how do I know she and other realtors aren’t getting kickbacks from their contractors? Don’t attack Trelora just because they are providing a welcome service that is killing the cash cow you’ve enjoyed for so many years. The recorded calls from realtors, the vandalism, and the refusal to show Trelora-listed homes is asinine, immature, and a disservice to the public.