Real Estate Agents Now Advertise At Airport Gates, Will Give You Hundreds Of Thousands Of Miles

The real estate market is hot in many areas of the U.S., and mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. Real estate agents will pay for their next lead, and lead generators will rebate part of that payment to you in the form of airline miles. It’s potentially win-win-win.

And in a sign of the times not only can you earn miles buying or selling a house (or both!) but there are now ads for American AAdvantage partner Miles From Home Realty running at some American Airlines gates across 75 airports.

To be clear, this is a real estate lead generating company. You sign up with them and they connect you to a real estate agent. That agent earns a commission on the sale of a home. They pay the lead generating company for delivering the prospect (you) and you get rebated part of the fee (miles).

  • You aren’t picking your real estate agent, although you don’t actually have to use the one they send you, meet that agent and see if working with them is worth the miles.

  • If not, ask to get assigned to someone else at the brokerage you may like better and still earn the miles.

  • Or walk away before signing anything.

When I bought a condo in 2006 I earned 3000 United miles per $10,000 purchase price for being referred to a realtor. And why I got my current mortgage I earned 100,000 Chase points for doing so.

The real estate agent commission stumps me, 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.

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 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. Make sure you’re happy with the agent you work with.

On the financing side you may not get the best mortgage deal choosing a miles for mortgages offer, e.g. QuickenLoans is offering 25,000 United MileagePlus miles for a mortgage. Although don’t think you’re paying more for financing 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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Real estate agents are like lawyers. The fewer, the better, and any day I don’t run into some self-promoting, “Always Be Closing” real estate agent is a good day.

  2. I find it amazing that the existing percentage commission model in real estate transactions continues unchanged. Earning 6% in a transaction that can easily be handled is excessive. All the information required for a real estate transaction is readily available including the information agents don’t tell you.

  3. When you hire a real estate broker to list your home you’re signing a contract and agreeing to defined terms. If it’s OK for a seller to renegotiate the contract terms at the last minute and reduce the commission, then certainly you’re OK if the broker renegotiates the contract terms at the last minute to increase the commission? It goes without saying that if you don’t like the terms real estate brokers offer, then sell your house yourself.

  4. @Bob broker – agents have an incentive to often be willing to renegotiate, they can always suggest a renegotiation to give them more money but have no leverage to get this of course – renegotiations are voluntary, and all sides have to agree.

  5. Damn, wish we could get rid of restrictive zoning so people don’t have to pay $2.5M for a clapped out 1970s ranch in Palo Alto or Austin. Oh well.
    Better that older people with random luck collect rents than the money being used to take risks and build something productive.

  6. Why would you not just use a rebate broker and save yourself 2% off the list price?

    “When I bought a condo in 2006 I earned 3000 United miles per $10,000 purchase price for being referred to a realtor. “

    With a rebate broker you would save $200 per $10,000. If we generously value those miles at 2 cents each, you’re saving $60 per $10,000. You can’t just your broker doe this whereas you absolutely can choose your own agent if you seek rebate brokers.

  7. @CoLi:

    As a lawyer, I must ask: what kind of pissant little job do you have?

    Data entry?

    No one likes lawyers, until they need one.

  8. 1KBrad

    Good point – I was playing off the oft-unfair image of lawyers to make a point. Real estate agents are far, far worse.

    FTR I’m a design engineer. Nobody wants to talk to us at parties either, but then again, that’s a self-solving problem with most engineers.

  9. @CoLi:

    Many lawyers earn that reputation, which then carries over to the remainder of us.

    Lawyers have doctoral level educations. Real estate agents don’t have to graduate from high school.

    Many of them just think its an easy way to make money.


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