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The biggest obstacle to virtual growth of real estate brokers seems to be other people’s money. We constantly handle earnest money from buyers and commission checks that are to be shared with agents. State laws require us to keep some funds separate from other funds. The best way to manage all of these variables is to require our agents to deliver earnest money checks to our office immediately. The same goes for commission checks if they can’t be wired from an attorney’s office. Granted buyer’s could technically wire us earnest money, but this seems like an ugly obstacle for the majority of our clients when a check works just fine for them.

Why doesn’t a bank or credit union create a solution to help us manage the money logistics?

One idea I have is to create a ‘deposit only’ bank card that brokers can distribute to agents. Then when an agent gets a check from someone else, they just drive thru the nearest bank ATM and make a deposit directly into the proper broker-owned account. There could even be incentives for the agent’s themselves to bank at the broker’s bank. Perhaps even benefits to the broker based upon agent participation/sign up rates, like more interest on the escrow account, fees waived, etc… I’m just thinking out loud here, but it seems some bank/credit union ought to be listening. Heck, real estate brokerages handle large amounts of money and there is significant business to be had here for very little work.

Technically speaking, because I like the geekier thoughts, a broker should be able to hand a new agent a ‘Broker Banking Card’ upon acceptance with the firm. The ‘BBC’ could be activated/deactivated and access levels controlled via a web-based control panel of the bank. It sure would make real estate money management a lot easier and maybe even make the industry more virtual by requiring less office space for such functions. I know our brokerage, which covers a wide regional area, would be more efficient and our agents’ could focus more on driving to meet clients instead of driving to deliver checks.

Or maybe this already exists and I’m just dumb to the options available – can anyone point me in the right direction?