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What's the ideal experience?
Case Study

What's the ideal experience?

How Earnnest helped Path and Post blow past buyer expectations.

Russell Smith
September 13, 2021

When Brad Nix and Becky Babcock co-founded boutique brokerage Path & Post Real Estate in the north metro Atlanta area, they knew that first and foremost, they wanted to provide top-tier service to the buyers and sellers working with their agents.

That’s influenced every decision at Path & Post, from the business structure (a team brokerage, where every team member is an expert specializing in a specific area of the transaction) to the company’s core values: Respect, Unity, and “The Golden Rule+.”

The “plus” stands for an above-and-beyond philosophy, explains Nix. “We treat others the way they’d like to be treated because it’s the right thing to do, and we always want to do a plus-one type of experience—we meet the expectation, but what ‘plus’ can we add to it?”

When Brad Nix and Becky Babcock co-founded boutique brokerage Path & Post Real Estate in the north metro Atlanta area, they knew that first and foremost, they wanted to provide top-tier service to the buyers and sellers working with their agents.

That philosophy has drawn agents to Path & Post organically and helped grow their market share: The brokerage captured $100 million in volume in 2020 from 325 transactions, and so far in 2021, their transactions are already up 18 percent year-over-year. That’s not a mean feat in a competitive market where inventory is scarce, but Path & Post’s heavy focus on customer delight has helped generate both loyalty and leads.

In a traditional brokerage, Nix notes, “you’re competing with the agent across the aisle on the same listing,” which ultimately leads to a less-than-ideal consumer experience. “People end up cutting corners and under-delivering on expectations.” Instead, at Path & Post, “We started with the client and worked backward, to deliver a better experience.”

One decision that Nix and Babcock had to make from the beginning surrounded earnest money and whether or not to open a trust account and provide the service of holding that money for either their buyer clients or their seller clients’ buyers.

“There are brokerages in metro Atlanta that don’t do it,” Nix explains. “They either have an attorney hold the earnest money in trust, or the other party. But we decided early on that we wanted to touch the money because that’s important; we can’t advocate and protect our clients if we’re not willing to take that risk.”

Immediately, Nix realized that the earnest money process was not a fun experience for buyers. Paper checks are notoriously difficult to track down; plus, Path & Post doesn’t run a traditional office, they are completely paperless, so the seemingly simple hurdle of getting the check cashed and the money into the account was not easily cleared.

“I built as many webforms and digital workflows as I could,” Nix says, “but ultimately, someone had to touch that paper check and scan it with their phone into a banking app.”

There were other challenges to using paper checks: not all buyers have checks, for example. And although wiring funds is always an alternative, Nix says that Path & Post didn’t want to go down that path because not everybody is comfortable with wiring money, and the fees are expensive, so “we always preferred checks to wires.”

This was as close as Path & Post could get to seamless, and they were constantly seeking a better way to work with buyers’ earnest money, so when Nix found Earnnest, “I thought: I have to give this a try.”

Earnnest uses a proprietary transfer process between the buyer’s bank account and Path & Post’s trust account to secure the earnest money deposit instantly. Agents walk buyers through the simple but secure process to link their bank account and approve the transfer—and that’s it. “Agents love Earnnest; it’s been great,” Nix enthuses.

To train agents around how to use Earnnest, and how to explain it to their own buyer clients and walk them through the transfer process, Path & Post built a topic into their training and onboarding platform; they use Earnnest’s how-to videos and offer some additional background in the module. “The state of Georgia contracts have multiple checkboxes and options,” notes Nix, “so we tell our new agents that we prefer to use Earnnest, and here’s why, and we built landing pages for buyers so that they could learn about why we prefer it as well.”

“Earnnest is a sweet spot between that check and a wire,” notes Nix, and adds that the $15 fee was so affordable compared to a wire that Path & Post decided to cover it for all of their buyers (and their agents). “We pay it all as a brokerage so the agent and the client don’t come out of pocket, which comes back to the experience,” Nix explains. “We want to make the agent’s life better, too, so they can deliver a better customer experience to the buyer.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Russell Smith

Russell Smith is the Chief Revenue Officer at Earnnest. Russell has spent his entire career innovating within the real estate technology ecosystem, previously building high-growth teams, culture, and key business channels at HouseCanary, Trulia, RealScout, and National Tenant Network. Russell was named a HousingWire Rising Star in 2020.