Miles for real estate transactions used to be a pretty big thing. When I bought a condo in 2006 I earned six figures in United miles for being referred to a realtor. Basically they were rebating a bit more than half their commission in the form of United miles.
People usually think that meant I had to work with whatever real estate agent was assigned to me. That’s not the case at all. Instead, I simply needed to work with the brokerage firm I was referred to. I didn’t think much of the first agent I got, so I had the brokerage manager re-assign me to someone far sharper.
The real estate agent commission is vexing, the notion that 6% of a transaction has been able to be maintained more or less (though there are discount brokerages and do-it-yourself brokerage houses) and sometimes commissions get bumped to 7% (4% for the buyer’s agent to entice them to show the property) is genuinely surprising to me. Although if you aren’t getting a rebate of the commission you can often get the agent to kick in part of their commission to bridge the gap between buyer and seller to reach a final deal. They want some commission that comes from making a sale rather than no commission when a deal falls apart. (No matter what your broker tells you they aren’t working for you, they are working for a sale.)
This is usually best accomplished at the last minute when a deal is really close. Even if you’ve reached a price you’d be happy with, why not hold out to do 1% better asking your agent to make up the difference from their commission?
You could also get miles for mortgages. Chase used to do that, including refinances, and people used to refinance their homes (and pay off the mortgages in nearly real time) just for the miles.
There were many players in the miles for mortgages game, like Cendant and Lending Tree and even Wells Fargo though perhaps the most ubiquitous was Awards for Real Estate and Mortgages. Many of the old operators are gone, and mileage offers are gone but a few opportunities still exist.
American Home Miles will give you American AAdvantage miles for the real estate transaction, miles for working with them on your mortgage, and miles for using the moving company they refer you to. In each case they’re rebating a portion of commission.
Miles from Home will give you American AAdvantage miles for real estate transactions and mover referrals. They don’t do miles for mortgages.
- You may be able to get a cash rebate (or kick-in towards the deal) instead of miles from your realtor, these things can be negotiated individually.
- If you aren’t super self-sufficient, and actually rely on a real estate agent, it can be costly to work with a bad one. Getting one assigned randomly may not be worth the miles. Though you should be able to request re-assignment.
- You may not get the best mortgage deal through this process, although don’t think you’re paying more because of the miles — the miles are marketing expense, one way to acquire customers, something that mortgage originators occur in one form or another regardless.
If you’re in the market for real estate it’s worth exploring what kinds of rebates you can get, and being aware of mileage offers is one important form of rebate that you should be sure you’re not simply leaving on the table.