Client – StepStone Realty
StepStone Realty has built a successful business around creative real estate. They provide a number of services to help their investor agents close deals more effectively, from short sale processing to mentoring to training. StepStone prides itself on the flexibility it can offer to its agents, compared to more traditional real estate firms.
However, one consequence of all this flexibility and variety of services is a rather complex fee structure. Some closings include multiple levels of referral fees, while others have fees for extra processing services or discounts based on sales volume.
Some of the fees and commissions are flat amounts, while others are a percentage commission. Sometimes the commission converts to a flat fee after a certain threshold is met. Some fees differ based on prior sales volume. Suffice it to say, the calculations are somewhat complex.
The StepStone team was calculating all this manually, but the process was time-consuming and error-prone, and most importantly, as the company grew, the manual calculations wouldn’t scale.
To begin with, we spent time recording all the written rules and their logical flow. StepStone already had a custom-built application for managing their agents and other key aspects of their business, and we knew we wanted this solution to fit in seamlessly with the existing application.
We built them a form that allows them to enter the key details about each closing (property, agent, sale price, date completed, services used, etc.), and store the details, allowing them to be linked to the agent data already stored in their database.
We converted all the rules for their fee structure to a set of functions within the app, which could take the provided data, look up previous sales, and calculate all the other related fees. Once this logic was in place, we were also able to provide a preview functionality, where the user could see how the fees would calculate out based on the selected options, and determine if changes needed to be made before saving the entry.
After a few tests runs, we found that no matter how robust the fee calculation logic was, there would always be exceptions. Maybe a custom service was being provided, or a special discount. So we added an option to override any of the calculated values in the fee structure. However, changing the value of one fee required the updating of another fee, so we structured the overrides so that each value could be overridden individually, and the overridden values could be used in the calculation of any related fees. Thus, even if some fees or commissions did not adhere to the standard formula, we could still calculate the remainder of the structure, rather than forcing the user to manually run all the calculations.
The module allowed each closing to be viewed as an individual report, but we also provide a list view that could be filtered and sorted, as well as exported to a spreadsheet.
In the end, the tedious task of calculating fees and commissions was lifted off the shoulders of the StepStone team, and they were able to focus their energy on what they do best: helping agents and investors close real estate deals.