Sundae Referral Network Agent Success Story: Shelley Cooley
Being a licensed real-estate agent in today’s market means being nimble, ready to embrace change, and always looking for the next, best solution for your clients. While traditional, MLS sales are the first and obvious choice, not every home or homeowner is a good fit for that approach—and the off-market investors you know well don’t always provide the answer.
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.
Shelley Cooley, of The Franklin Team and eXp Realty in Houston, Texas, is one of our early SRN members. She was happy to share a bit about what working with Sundae has meant to her and her clients so far.
The Franklin Team - eXp Realty - Houston
“The fact that you guys are taking a property and bringing it to all of your investors, I just loved the model from the get-go.”
From teacher to licensed real-estate agent
Cooley was an educator in her early career, before making the move to real estate in 2009. Her first stop was as a home stager. “I was still a teacher and I was just doing a little side-hustle as a stager,” she recalled. “But that was what brought me the awareness that, ‘oh my gosh, I love this industry!’”
From staging she shifted into business development and then, in 2016, earned her real estate license. This path has helped her to develop knowledge and confidence in many areas of the industry, and these days she finds changes and even market shifts challenging and fun. “I'm kind of a mover and a shaker,” she says.
Relationships come first
The best — and hardest — year so far for Cooley’s business was 2020, when she handled some 132 real estate transactions. Since then, like everyone, she’s seen the market shift, and in 2022 she was down to 65 or 70. It’s all about perspective, though, and she is the first to point out the bright side of a more subdued selling environment:
“I am more of a relationship-based agent,” she explained. “Since the market has slowed down — I want to say normalize because I really do think this is more of a normal market that we're in — it's allowed me to work my database, [touch base with] my previous clients and make sure they're doing okay, and really nurture those relationships.”
Always have options
Cooley’s upbeat attitude extends to her outlook for home sellers right now. “Whether you are selling because you have to or you just want to, it's still a great time to sell your home,” she said. But she notes that pricing a home correctly is maybe more important than ever, as is setting realistic expectations, and having options beyond the traditional, open-market MLS sale.
“Every now and then, you run into somebody whose home has deferred maintenance and it’s just going to cost too much to make those repairs,” she noted. “Or sometimes, it's just that convenience thing — they don't want people in their homes, they don't want to [do showings]. It's great that we can offer solutions beyond the open market.”
The Sundae Solution
The need for those solutions is part of why the Sundae Marketplace instantly appealed to Cooley. She first learned about the SRN from a good friend and former colleague who is now part of the Sundae team in the Houston area.
“She shared a little bit about the company and immediately I was like, ‘Okay, that's a great idea!’ The fact that you guys are taking a property and bringing it to all of your investors, I just loved the model from the get-go,” she said.
Where to turn when time is tight
The need for speed was a major motivator in one of Cooley’s first Sundae referrals. She was working with homeowners who had just signed a contract on a new home with a quick move-in timeline: They only had a few weeks to sell their current home. And that house, she quickly learned, hadn’t been updated in more than three decades.
“They had taken really good care of it, but for us to try to get it on the open market [they were going to have to invest some time],” she explained. “They had lived in it for 33 years. Most people need time to get their home staged and ready for photos before they go on the market.”
And so she suggested a Sundae referral, explaining how that process would work while also running numbers on a conservative open-market sale for the sake of comparison. “I had no problems handing over my clients’ contact information (of course, with their permission) because I knew Rachel would take care of them,” she said. “And Sundae ended up being their best solution.”
What a difference a week makes
The timeline, once a client decides to go with Sundae, is short. “It only takes about four days to get on the Sundae Marketplace,” Cooley recalled. “On the fourth day, we had all the offers.”
Because Cooley trusted Sundae and Rachel, she felt confident that her clients were in good hands. She did stay in touch, though, and was able to walk them through some questions and concerns that popped up after their offers came in. “They felt very comfortable because they knew that they had me as their advisor,” she explained. “From there, everything worked so smoothly. Sundae set up the closing time, and they sign the contract.”
A good off-market alternative
While Cooley, like most agents, has worked with iBuyers and other off-market, cash investors, this has become less of a go-to for her in today’s less-certain market.
“I don't think it's the best solution now because I think a lot of the iBuyers buy-boxes have shrunk,” she said. “When the market gets a little volatile, they start getting nervous.” As evidence of those nerves, she has even had investors back out after making an offer.
The simplicity of working with Sundae was a welcome contrast. Not only is the price you’re offered the price you get, but fees and even some move-out expenses are taken off the table. “I love the fact that the buyer pays the closing costs,” Cooley said. “That's a big one.” But maybe more surprising, her clients didn’t even have to clean out the house if they weren’t up for it. “They could have walked away leaving stuff that they didn't want behind.”
Once an educator, always an educator
A service ethic that Cooley credits to her years of teaching informs her approach to her work even today. “As an educator, I served children, and now I'm serving buyers and sellers,” she said. Having the ability to offer sellers solutions beyond the standard open market to get their homes sold is part of how she does that.
All of which only makes her more valuable as an agent. “I think people look at me as more of a professional, like, ‘Wow, we just thought she was going to talk to us about putting a sign in our yard and getting it sold on the open market, and she had these other options that could potentially be a solution for us,’” said Cooley. “I think having you guys in my back pocket just makes me look more like a forward-thinking real estate agent.”