Sundae Referral Network Agent Success Story: Rick Ruiz
Just as Sundae was created for homeowners facing tough circumstances, there are licensed real-estate agents across the country with clients in the same boat: The ones who need to sell their homes in need of repairs as quickly and inexpensively as possible. But when agents meet with a homeowner like that, there isn’t always a satisfying solution.
We launched the Sundae Referral Network (SRN) to help agents give their clients a convenient, trustworthy alternative to the familiar off-market options, by referring them to our marketplace and extensive community of investors. It’s a win-win – agents can build their network and earn commissions, while their clients can get the best-available prices for their homes.
We’ve reached out to some of our early-adopter SRN members to learn a bit about their experiences. One of them, Rick Ruiz of GK Properties in Las Vegas, gave us a peek into how partnering with Sundae has become an asset to his business.
GK Properties - Las Vegas, NV
“When you refer somebody, you're lending your credibility. I keep referring Sundae because it's been a positive experience for the consumer and for us as well.”
A go-to agent for Las Vegas homeowners
A longtime Las Vegas resident, Ruiz has been a licensed real-estate agent in the area for nearly 21 years, and in property management for 17. These days, with his team of three agents, he handles roughly 200 residential real-estate transactions each year—with a special focus on the average three-to-four-bedroom suburban houses that typically fall around the median price point for the county. “They call me Mr. Median around here,” noted Ruiz. “We’re right in the wheelhouse of average America.”
Average, to be clear, never means boring: The challenges that drew Ruiz into real estate at the start are also what keeps him always invested in his career. “I really love it. The unlimited income opportunities, and the leadership part of it,” he said. “And the evolving market keeps me on my toes—so it’s always changing and always fun.”
A timely solution
That ever-changing market is part of what led Ruiz to get involved with Sundae. It’s been a tumultuous few years. In 2021, he estimated that about 10% of his properties were being sold off-market, to iBuyers and real-estate investment trusts (REITs). “We had a lot of avenues and not only were they paying market, sometimes they are paying above market,” he noted. That’s since gone down: “Now, for obvious reasons, they’re calculating risks and paying a lot less.” He’s starting to see that business trend back up, in part because Sundae has entered the picture, offering another avenue for consumers.
“One of your reps attended an event where I was on a speaking panel,” Ruiz recalled. The two spoke, and he later brought the sales team into the conversation. “We gave you guys a couple shots — and you’ve been hitting them out the park for us. We've done about a handful of transactions so far they've been all seamless and positive.”
The Sundae alternative
It’s important to Ruiz to ensure the consumer has options, and so he enters every initial client appointment with a range of offers. “I've always been very iBuyer friendly and so when we come to a listing appointment, we always bring an iBuyer offer; we bring your traditional on-the-market seller scenario; and then we usually bring an offer from a REIT.”
In a case where an off-market sale is needed, however, this selection doesn’t always hit the mark, whether because the offer is too low or the property isn’t in the investor’s buy box. “REITs have very tight buy boxes [especially now, as they’ve gotten more risk averse]. They've got to be at least three bedrooms, have at least a two-car garage… pools, solar, you name it. And so [in his first referral to Sundae], you guys came in as an option, and it was one that the seller was interested in.”
Ruiz and his team have been able to refer clients to us in these scenarios, knowing that our community of investors would compete to provide the best price available without strict buy boxes or other deal breakers.
Making a “hard sell” easier—in one step
Certain properties, right off the bat, present challenges. “We had one that has a pool that's been empty for five years,” Ruiz recalled. That issue makes it less attractive on the traditional MLS market, and might give many off-market investors pause, as well. With situations like this one, he now turns to Sundae. “Even if we were going to list it as a cash-only listing, a lot of the people likely offering on it [would be] the same people that you guys are representing.” And so it only makes sense, rather than chasing down multiple offers — and not being sure if you’re getting the best one out there — to use a marketplace that delivers them all at once. “The fact that we can just do it in one in one step is really nice. You’re able to turn around offers in a fair amount of time. It's very helpful.”
It’s “mailbox money”
After we receive an agent referral, Sundae takes over, handling the transaction and closing. For a busy agent like Ruiz, there’s appeal in being able to hand his client to a trusted advisor and step away — knowing he will still earn a commission. “It's seamless for me. From a compliance standpoint, I don't have to go and gather all of these signatures and disclosures,” he noted. “Just like any other referral—it's mailbox money.”
Because his focus is always customer first, Ruiz usually does keep tabs on his clients, even after making a referral. “I choose to check in with the client, just to make sure they're having a good experience,” he said. “And I choose to check in with the Sundae rep, too. But that's not something that's not necessary; it's truly painless.”
Convenience is key
While there is no “typical” Sundae client, what many have in common is the need to sell their houses quickly, with little front-end investment. And often, Ruiz noted, “they need to be out of the house in a certain amount of time because they're using those funds to purchase the next house. They don't want to deal with the days on market or the uncertainty of a buyer falling out of escrow.” Those sellers are often willing to take somewhat less in selling price in exchange for the certainty they need.
Others, of course, simply don’t want—or can’t accommodate—the staging and showings that are inherent to MLS sales. “They don't want people coming to the house. They don't want to have to constantly walk the dog or get out of there. They absolutely want convenience, and they're willing to pay for it.” Sundae brings that to the table.
The human element
Ruiz shared that another way Sundae differs from other off-market buyers is that when we first deal with a client, we show up in person. Home buying and selling are among the most major—and emotional—financial decisions most consumers ever make. And many only do so two or three times in their lives. “What a lot of the Internet companies fail to do is to have a human element,” Ruiz said. “The fact that [a Sundae rep] shows up in a Sundae shirt, with a clipboard or an iPad, means there is a human who can talk the consumer through this process. It’s very important.”
The value of referrals
A key to the Sundae Referral Network is that it helps agents build their own networks and communities, by bringing others into the fold, and earn residual commissions while doing so. But for Ruiz and agents like him, professional referrals aren’t taken lightly.
“I partner with companies like Sundae because it's an option for the consumer. I tell every agent, be open to every piece of technology or every avenue that's out there, because if you don't have this option for the consumer, the next guy will,” he said. “But at the end of day, when you refer somebody, you're lending your credibility. I keep referring Sundae because it's been a positive experience for the consumer and for us as well.”