I just learned it's possible to earn Membership Rewards points for buying or selling a house. An outfit called RBN (Real Buyer Network) runs this program, in which they refer you to a handful of real estate agents, and if you use one of them to buy or sell, you get 1 MR point for every dollar of the purchase price. There are some hoops and fine print, but nothing that seems unreasonable to me.
TPG posted a fawning fluff piece about the program last year. Link.
Does anyone here have experience with this? Pretty cool way to get a heaping helping of MR points if you happen to be in the market. Almost seems too good to be true.
Mods: I'm unsure where to post this. It's not exactly mortgage, card or credit related. I think Personal Finance is the best fit, but no worries if you disagree.
Based on the observation that little in life is free, and that the points cost money (since no Amex card appears to be involved) I would wonder:
1) Referall fee: agents have to pay this. That coud be a source of funds, but I would also wonder if you really are getting top-notch agents, great ones don't need to pay (maybe)?
2) Are closing costs higher than at some alternatives? You could end up paying some fraction of the value of the points that way!
But if not 2) and you get a great agent as claimed, AND trhere are no other gotchas, makes sense!
All costs eventually get passed on to the consumer. So whether the cost of the MR points are nominally deducted from the agent or the consumer, ultimately the consumer is paying for it.
But this sounds like an attempt to build out a new, national network of real estate agents, with MR points as their hook. And as they build out the network, they might have low fees to encourage adoption. So this might be a good deal. Though while the end-user incentive is clear, I'm not sure what incentives real estate agents have to join. As @longtimelurker suggested, they might not attract the top tier. Though we don't know the internal fee structure or how much business they can forward to their agents, so again unclear.
Since there's not a ton of information out there, it's going to be a bit of a gamble. I'd definitely do due digilence, vetting any real estate agent I was paired with, and comparing fees. And I absolutely wouldn't switch realtors, if I already had one I was happy with. It's not just finances over FICO -- in any situation where I'm making a major financial decision, I don't want to let marginal incentives sway me from the fundamentals.
It's definitely an interesting concept, though. I'll be interested to see how this plays out.