Frequently Asked Questions

What services do you provide Bay Area home buyers?+

We provide all of the services of a traditional real estate agent, with better data-driven tools, increased transparency and more responsive customer service. We can help with as little or as much of the home-buying process as you require. Some clients come to us with a home already found and a price in mind, and need assistance with assessing the home and executing the transaction. Others are still figuring out their budget, what they're looking for, and advice on where to focus their search. Either way, we’re here to seamlessly guide you through your home buying process - finding the right home, valuing it, understanding the disclosures, submitting a competitive offer, and closing the transaction. We're with you from start to finish.

How are you different from a traditional buyer’s agent?+

With Unlocked, you’ll be working with licensed real estate agents and get all of the buying services provided by a traditional real estate agent, with better data-driven tools, increased transparency and more responsive customer service. So in many respects, your buying experience will be the same as working with a traditional real estate agent - only better!

In terms of how we’re different, firstly, we offer 2% cash back. This is the largest buyer’s rebate in the industry! That is tens of thousands of dollars that you can put that towards buying new furniture, renovating your kitchen and bathrooms or throwing that all important housewarming party (or more responsible uses like paying down your mortgage).

Secondly, our backgrounds are different than traditional real estate agents. We are a Stanford MBA and a Yale Law JD, who have also worked at some of the top management consulting, law and private equity firms (Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Wachtell and Bain Capital). We leverage our data-driven, customer-oriented experiences to deliver a more insightful, analytical and responsive home buying experience.

Thirdly, Unlocked has built custom analytical tools to bring data, insight and transparency to the key buying decision points and streamline the buying process. For every home you’re interested in, we provide our Custom Valuation Report, an easy-to-interpret spreadsheet of recent comparable transactions, competing listings and third-party valuations, as well as our Disclosure Review Summary, a comprehensive summary of the 200+ pages of disclosures.

All-in-all, we’ve designed the buying experience that we would have wanted when we bought our homes, and we’re sure you’ll love it, just like our current and past clients have (check out our Yelp reviews).

Are you fully licensed?+

Yes. Unlocked is a fully-licensed California brokerage (CalBRE #02060530) and all of our agents are fully-licensed California sales agents. One of our Founders (Jesse) is a licensed California real esate broker, and is a member of the San Francisco Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

Unlocked's 2% cash back rebate offer sounds too good to be true.
What’s the catch?+

There is no catch! We started Unlocked as we think there needs to be a better way to buy a Bay Area home based on our own home buying experiences. Buying agents get paid 2.5% of the purchase price, which means on a typical $2 million single-family home, they get $50,000. Given escalating Bay Area real estate prices, that didn’t feel right to us, so we rebate 2% of the purchase price back to the buyer. We still offer all of the services of a traditional real estate agent, with better data-driven tools, increased transparency and more responsive customer service. It is the home buying experience we wanted when we bought our Bay Area homes.

How are you able to pay 2% of the purchase price cash back to buyers? +

The seller generally pays both their listing agent and the buyer’s agent 2.5% of the purchase price. On a $2 million dollar home, that’s $50,000 to each agent. We think buyers should keep more of their money, so we rebate 2% of the 2.5% commission back the buyer, and Unlocked keeps the other 0.5%. We leverage technology (and work around-the-clock!) to provide a higher-level of service to our clients, while spending less of our time having coffee and networking with potential clients.

How and when do I get the 2% cashback?+

Buyers receive their cash back rebate at the close of their home purchase. As soon as the escrow company distributes the funds to Unlocked (generally the same day as close), we then cut you your cash back rebate check. You can then use your cash back rebate to buy new furniture, renovate your kitchen and bathrooms or throw that all important housewarming party! (or use it to pay down your mortgage)

Are there any restrictions to the 2% cash back?+

We strive to give the best possible financial deal to all of our Bay Area clients. However there are a limited number of instances when Unlocked has to slightly modify our cash back rebate offer:

  • If the buying agent commission is less than 2.5%, we reduce the cash back rebate by the same amount. For example, if the seller is only offering a 2.25% buying agent commission, you’d receive a 1.75% cash back rebate. 99%+ of Bay Area properties offer a 2.5% buying agent commission, so this is a rare event, and we would let you know ahead of submitting an offer so you can adjust your offer price accordingly.
  • If the purchase price of the home is below $1 million, and Unlocked would earn less than $5,000, we rebate you all of the buying agent’s commission, after deducting $5,000 for Unlocked to cover our expenses. For example, on a $900,000 home offering a 2.5% agent commission, the buying agent commission would be $22,500, and we would rebate $17,500 to the buyer.

Under every circumstance, you’re still getting the highest cash back rebate offered in the Bay Area.

Is the 2% cash back rebate taxable?+

According to the IRS, a cash back rebate from a buying agent as part of a real estate purchase is generally not subject to income tax. Per the IRS “a payment or credit at closing from [a real estate brokerage] represents an adjustment to the purchase price of the home and generally is not includible in a purchaser's gross income.”

When you sell your property in the future, you would adjust your cost basis down by the rebate amount when calculating capital gains taxes (subject to allowable capital gains exemptions on real estate investments).

How much does it cost to work with Unlocked? +

Nothing! Working with Unlocked is free for buyers. We make our money via the commission the seller pays. On top of not costing you anything, we also give you a 2% cash back rebate. So buying with Unlocked gets you a better buying experience AND you get rebated 2% of your purchase price!

Who will be my day-to-day point of contact at Unlocked? +

One of our Founders (Matthew or Jesse) personally leads each transaction and will be your day-to-day point of contact throughout your home buying journey. We work closely as a team, and are able to jump in for each other if and when you have a time-sensitive request.

What Bay Area cities and neighborhoods do you cover?+

We cover the entire Bay Area. We've helped Unlocked clients buy homes in San Francisco, North Bay, East Bay and South Bay.

How do I see your listings? Do you have off-market properties available?+

Most of our buying clients find their new home via homes listed on the MLS, where you’ll find the broadest inventory of Bay Area homes available for sale. This is usually the best way to find a home that meets your buying criteria. We recommend using either Redfin or Zillow to peruse current listings, as these websites have all MLS listings, and have a better user-interface than the actual MLS.

From time-to-time we have Unlocked “off-market” properties, generally when an Unlocked buyer wants to sell their old home. When that happens, we reach out to all Unlocked buyers that the home may be suitable for, and see if there is an interest in purchasing the home at a price that the seller is expecting.

Do you help buyers looking to purchase new construction homes?+

Yes. We’re happy to work with buyers looking to purchase a new construction property and do so regularly. Some new construction developments can be strict about requiring you to register us as your buying agent the very first time you contact the development, so it’s often important to get in contact with us sooner rather than later if you’re considering a new development property.

To learn more about how Unlocked can help you with your new construction purchase, please visit our new construction page for more details, or feel free to contact us

How do I get started with Unlocked?+

Simply Contact Us! We’ll explain a bit more about Unlocked and answer any questions you may have. We can introduce you to the Bay Area’s best mortgage agents at the top national banks, and discuss with you valuation trends for the neighborhoods or cities you’re focused on.

When you’ve visited a property that you’re interested in, contact us ASAP. Most new listings in the Bay Area have an offer deadline, often within a week or two of listing. Once you’ve contacted us, we can inform you of the offer deadline, as well as obtain the disclosures from the listing agent and put together our valuation analysis and disclosure review.

Contact Us

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Email

You can email us anytime support @ unlockedhome.com

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Phone

Call us Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm PT (650) 797-0633

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