Wooden monkey and elephant mystery solved

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DENVER – The FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers have cracked the case of the wooden monkeys and elephants in Denver.

Last week, it was reported that mystery was sweeping through the metro area. Almost 2,000 wooden cutouts of monkeys and elephants were discovered at schools, banks, marijuana dispensaries and Starbucks locations.

On Wednesday, the animals were found with “#TWYA” spray painted on them. They seemed to be associated with a website. It provided links to articles about banks, movies and the Colorado Legislature.

A Facebook page dedicated to the mystery asked people to try to figure out what it was all for. Most guesses were political or tried to link schools and marijuana.

The Problem Solvers followed the clues and tracked down the people who started the monkey elephant movement.

TWYA stands for “Talk With Your Agent,” said Joshua Hunt, the CEO of real estate company Trelora and the brains behind the wooden animal invasion. “The monkeys mean stop monkeying around. The elephants are let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Commissions."

Commissions are the fees paid to real estate agents when buying and selling a home. Hunt said his company is trying to change the way commissions work to save homeowners money.

“Homeowners paid $27 million more in commissions this year than they did last year for agents to do the exact same job and the same number of transactions,” he said.

Trelora charges a flat rate commission of $2,500 instead of a percent of the sale, like traditional real estate agents.

“The average [home] price is around $400,000. That’s $24,000 in the typical commission. Families under our model would save $19,000,” Hunt said.

Trelora said the monkey elephant campaign is not just a marketing stunt to attract more business. It also started a website to teach homeowners how to negotiate to save money when buying or selling a home, no matter what company they choose.

“It’s educating them on how agents might talk to them. How they can talk to agents. Great questions to ask. How some of the rules and regulations of our industry work in layman’s terms,” he said.

Some people might be disappointed to learn the meaning behind the monkey elephant mystery, but a lot of people had fun trying to solve it.

Schools that received the animals were encouraged to decorate them for a chance to win prizes. Valdez Elementary School and Falcon Creek Middle School won $1,000.

Trelora has come under fire in the past from traditional real estate companies for posting commission rates. In October, REcolorado accused Trelora of publishing commission rates that are considered proprietary information.

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