Frequently Asked Questions

General Buying Questions

Is Unlocked fully licensed?+

Yes. Unlocked is a fully-licensed California brokerage (CalBRE #02060530) and all of our agents are fully-licensed California sales agents. All of our agents are members of the San Francisco Association of Realtors (TM), California Association of Realtors (TM) and the National Association of Realtors (TM).

Why do I need a buyers’ agent when buying a new construction home?+

A fair number of new construction home buyers work directly with the builder’s sales office to buy their home. While the sales office representatives are usually very friendly and knowledgeable about the development, there are a few reasons why you should consider using Unlocked as your buyers’ agent.

Firstly, it is important to realize the sales office employees represent the builder and do not represent you as the buyer. Unlocked would represent you and ensure that you have an experienced real estate agent looking out for your best interests.

Secondly, the cash back rebate! If you work without an agent, you will not receive any cash back rebate. However, if you work with Unlocked, we’ll rebate you 1.5% of the purchase price of your new home.

Thirdly, buying your new home is a big financial and emotional decision. It is prudent to have a professional real estate agent to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have along the way.

Which builders have you worked with in the past?+

We've worked with all of the major Bay Area home builders, including Lennar, D.R. Horton, Toll Brothers, K.B. Homes, Taylor Morrison, Pulte, William Lyon, Shea Homes, TRI Point, The New Home Company and Meritage.

Which parts of the Bay Area do you cover?+

We cover all of the Bay Area. We’ve worked with clients who were considering communities in the North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and San Francisco.

If you’re considering buying outside the Bay Area, please contact us and we’ll see if we are able to work with you remotely.

What services do you provide Bay Area new construction home buyers?+

We provide start-to-finish services for buyers looking to buy a new construction property. We can help identify and prioritize the developments that best meet your needs, help select the right homesite based on your preferences, and help you navigate the negotiation, purchasing and closing processes. We are with you, every step of the way.

How do I work with Unlocked?+

Simply, contact us and we can get started helping you buy your new construction home. We will answer any questions you have and explain more about the home buying process.

Note, it is important that you pre-register your Unlocked agent as your agent prior to your first visit to a community's sales office. Some builders will not pay a commission if the buyers’ real estate agent was not registered before the first visit.

Can you provide a list of new construction projects in a particular city?+

Yes. Please contact us and let us know which city you're looking to buy in. We can easily let you know of the new construction projects in that city, as well as where they are in their sales cycle.

What does it cost to work with Unlocked?+

Working with Unlocked is free! We are paid by the home builder through a commission. In addition to not costing you anything, we also offer you a cash back rebate of up to 1.5% of the purchase price of your new home.

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

One of our licensed real estate agents 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.

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 1.5% cash back rebate. So buying with Unlocked gets you a better buying experience AND you get rebated 1.5% of your purchase price!

Rebate Questions

Unlocked's 1.5% cash back rebate offer sounds too good to be true. Is there a 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 1.5% of the purchase price back to the buyer (subject to a minimum commission of $7,500 to Unlocked). 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 1.5% of the purchase price cash back to buyers? +

The builder pays the buyer’s agent a commission for representing the buyer. We rebate the vast majority of that commission back the buyer. We leverage technology (and work around-the-clock!) to provide a higher-level of service to our clients, while spending less of our time networking with potential clients. It's a win-win for both our clients and Unlocked.

How and when do I get the 1.5% 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, help with your moving expenses and throw that all important housewarming party! (or use it to pay down your mortgage)

Are there any restrictions to the 1.5% 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 1.25% 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 Unlocked would earn less than $10,000 commission, we rebate you all of the buying agent’s commission, after deducting $10,000 for Unlocked to cover our time and expenses. For example, on a $800,000 home offering a 2.5% agent commission, the buying agent commission would be $20,000, and we would rebate $10,000 to the buyer (which is 1.25%, slightly lower than the full 1.5%, but still a very high rebate).

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

Is the 1.5% 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 properties).

Will there be a written contract between myself and Unlocked detailing the rebate?+

Simply Contact Us and we can send you our standard client agreement in DocuSign for you to review and electronically sign. The contract is non-exclusive, so if you are not 100% satisfied working with Unlocked, you are free to work with another buying agent.

Other Questions

Do you work with sellers?+

No, unfortunately, at this time, Unlocked only works with buyers.

Sounds great! How do I get started with Unlocked?+

Simply Contact Us! We can answer any questions you may have, and ensure you kick-off your home buying process on the right foot. If needed, we can introduce you to the Bay Area’s best mortgage agents at the major banks, and discuss with you valuation trends for the neighborhoods or cities you’re focused on.

When you’ve visited a property you'd like to learn more about, just let us know. Most Bay Area listings 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 Custom Valuation Report and Disclosure Review Summary. If you'd like to move forward with an offer, we will be available to walk through that process.

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