New service offers cash back after buying home

SAN DIEGO -- A new service just launched in San Diego promises to make homeowners money after they find their dream home.

Thomas Gier knows it's hard to afford a home in San Diego County.

"I was looking at the cost, and you know the down payment is a lot," he said.

This year, Gier bought a home in Escondido for nearly $600,000, with little remorse. That's because he got a parting gift that could mean a lot more treats for his dog, Molly.

"I got a check back at closing for nearly $10,000," Gier said.

Gier is one of the first in San Diego to use a new service called Open Listings at OpenListings.com. Essentially, he was on his own. If he wanted to see a property, he had to go to an open house or arrange through the website for an agent to get him in.

"With all the modern tools online, I could filter out hundreds and hundreds of homes that I didn't want," Gier said.

Typically, buyers and sellers' agents split a 5 or 6 percent commission when a home sells. With Open Listings, the buyer gets a cut.

The service just expanded into San Diego County, and the timing appears to be perfect. As home prices continue to rise, so do the costs associated with buying a home, including one that just increased this month.

Loan officer Mark Goldman said new rules for lending will help buyers understand mortgages, but it adds time to the process, and that adds to closing costs.

Still, Goldman said discount brokerage services can be risky.

"There's such a happy feeling that they're not paying a real estate agent, they end up overpaying for the property," he said.

Gier, a financial advisor, said it worked for him, meaning less truly turned out to be more.

The median home price in the county last month rose to $460,000, CoreLogic reported.

Goldman said he expects the new rules to add about one-eighth of a point to closing costs. So for a $460,000 home, that's an extra $575.

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