Ribbon is a consumer-focused cash-backed value-added proposition for home buyers in select areas where it operates. Ribbon claims that buyers are able to make offers to sellers that are less than the asking price due to the added security of each offer. In this review, we focus primarily on this claim when placed against the fact that the program costs an additional 1.95% in fees. Placing additional fees into real estate process almost never leads to savings, however, making secure offers does offer certain benefits. Using Ribbon Offers does not preclude the buyer from negotiating a buyer’s commission refund with their real estate agent.
Guaranteed Cash Offers
Ribbon offers buyers a Cash Offers stand-in program where Ribbon purchases a home outright from the seller on a buyer’s behalf, and sells it back at the same price to the buyer on an agreed upon closing date. Ribbon guarantees the seller that the home will close, and if it doesn’t, Ribbon will then buy the home for the same terms. Cash Offers stand-in program is not free, it is also highly selective.
Ribbon extensively qualifies clients with a complete financial background check prior to doing business. Cash Offers program also comes with added risks in the event the buyer decides to back out of the sale. Buyers should carefully review their agreement with Ribbon before participating in the Cash Offers stand-in program so to fully understand the fees and potential penalties for backing out of the Cash Offer once it is made.
In order to maximize their options, Buyers should utilize Ribbon Cash Offer alongside a traditional non-Ribbon Offer that does not include the added 1.95% Ribbon Fee. Ribbon allows this as an option and buyers should always place two offers on the table before the seller so that the seller can pick whichever option suits them the best. Unless a buyer places Ribbon Offer and non-Ribbon Offer before the seller, another buyer who makes non-Ribbon Offer may be at an advantage because it comes without the Ribbon fee.
If the seller chooses non-Ribbon Offer, they will not pay the Ribbon fee, but they still have an option to go with Ribbon Offer if they want.
If hustle and risk of placing a Ribbon Offers genuinely comes with added savings, buyers should theoretically be able to place a winning Ribbon Offer at 95% value of their traditional non-Ribbon Offer.
This becomes the ultimate test - if the seller decides to accept a lower Ribbon Offer due to added security, buyer genuinely saves 5% in this type of transaction. If the Seller accepts a traditional non-Ribbon Offer, then this program didn’t help the buyer, but it didn’t cost anything either.
If the buyer only places a single Ribbon Offer on the table before the seller, there is nothing to compare savings against and, instead, all parties may have just wasted 1.95% on fees without any reason to do so.
Before placing this review, we had asked Ribbon team for details about the program:
Ribbon states that if the Buyer backs out from the purchase after making the Ribbon Offer they would lose the Due Diligence Deposit (if applicable) and Earnest Money Deposit. How much are these penalties, and how are these calculated? When are these applicable? Does this penalty remain in place if the appraisal comes in below the Ribbon Offer? Are there any other penalties for backing out of the Ribbon Offer?
Ribbon Answer: The buyer contributes their standard DD / EMD fees that are typically 1% of the purchase price. These are funds that are preserved and credited back to the buyer when they repurchase from Ribbon. Ribbon buys and reserves the home for the consumer buyer. If the buyer chooses not to purchase the home, these funds would be credited back if Ribbon resells the home back into the open market above the original purchase price.
Less than 3% of buyers choose not to purchase the home after we step in to buy on their behalf so this is an uncommon outcome. Additionally, consumers requested that when we buy, to provide consumers with a 1-year lease so they have the peace of mind of the home they are living in. We introduced this feature and buyers carry standard responsible for a 1-yr lease that would terminate immediately upon their purchase of the home from Ribbon.
Ribbon states that Ribbon Offer typically commands a 5% discount relative to competing bids which have financing contingencies. Do Ribbon terms allow Buyers to make two concurrent bids to the Seller - one set at 100% of the home price with typical financing contingencies as a non-Ribbon Offer and another as the Ribbon Offer made at 95% of the same offer amount? If the Buyer were to propose this option to Ribbon, what would the reply be?
Ribbon Answer: Yes, a buyer can make a Ribbon and Non-Ribbon offer. We believe consumers should have a choice in how they buy and we enable this for them. We have enabled this for other buyers and this is one of several ways in which we calculate the true cash discount rate.
Ribbon states that Ribbon Offer typically commands a discount of 5% or more of the home price, when compared to the 1.95% Ribbon fee. Can Ribbon show proof of this statement? Is there a possibility that the Seller considers Ribbon fee a deterrent in light of a competing offer without the fee?
Ribbon Answer: We establish a cash discount based on the following methodology: where did the Ribbon offer clear relative to other offers received by the seller. We often receive this input from the listing agent. If not, we calculate cash discounts based on the predicted and actual appraisal value of the home.
When Ribbon purchases the home, instead of the Buyer, Ribbon pays Buyer's Agent Commission under its own agreement with the Agent. In this scenario, Buyer's Agent does not take any risk nor has any added expense in case the Buyer backs out of the deal. This gives the Buyer's Agent, effectively, two clients instead of one.
Why should the Buyer believe that this Agent is not looking out for her own interest since both Ribbon and the Buyer are represented by the same Agent and are subject to the same commission structure? How can the same Agent fairly represent two distinctly different Buyers in the same transaction?
Ribbon Answer: Ribbon stands in as the backup buyer to the original buyer represented by the realtor. If, and only if, the original buyer is unable to close on time, Ribbon stands in to purchase the home on their behalf at the exact same terms as the original offer. As such, we have zero conflict of interests as the original buyer sets the price and terms with their realtor.
Ribbon provides, upfront, the max terms that we will back the home for (this includes, max purchase price, minimum DD/EMD fee, minimum DD time period and minimum time to close). The realtor represents the original buyer up until the point where the contract is assigned to Ribbon prior to close.
Ribbon clearly offers the buyer an interesting value-added alternative, despite the added 1.95% fee. Buyers should place two side-by-side Ribbon and non-Ribbon Offers to capture savings. These offers may be equal, or 5% less of each other, depending on how far the buyer wants to test the savings claimed by the program.
Buyers should also fully understand all risks for backing out of a Ribbon offer before using the program. If the buyer makes only the Ribbon Offer without the non-Ribbon alternative, the added fee may simply backfire because the seller may accept another equal or lower traditional offer from another buyer.