Flat-fee real estate brokers sell your home for a set rate, instead of a percentage of the sale like a traditional agent. Some offer full service, while others offer a la carte options. Here are some pro and cons of these types of brokers and five to consider if you’re selling your California home.
Flat-fee real estate brokers in California have recently become much more common. Flat-fee agents charge the same flat rate to home sellers no matter the value of the home, while traditional agents are paid commissions as a percentage of the home’s selling price.
Taking a look at the exact offerings of each agent can help you decide which option best suits your needs.
“Reach to get the best of both worlds — a full-service agent local to California at a flat rate with no hidden fees.
Here’s more about flat-fee agents and some other options available in the state.
What are flat-fee real estate brokers?
While traditional real estate agents are paid a percentage of the final sale price as their commission, flat-fee real estate brokers charge a single rate for services — or flat rate — no matter the home’s selling price. Some flat-fee agents or brokers offer full service, others offer a la carte options which may include individual pricing for staging, listing and marketing, showings, and the actual sale.
Pros of Flat-Fee Brokers
Depending on the value of your home and the services provided, you’re likely to save a lot of money by opting for a flat-fee broker. Traditional agents charge an average of 3% on the sale of your home. You may be able to find a full service flat-fee broker who will sell your home for much less, especially if your home is of high value.
For example, on a $300,000 home, you could expect to pay $9,000 in commissions to a traditional listing agent (3% of the sale). However, with a flat-fee agent, you could expect a flat rate for the same service, sometimes as low as $3,000. Regardless, you’ll still be responsible for buyer’s agent commission, which is around 3%.
With a la carte services, there may be more potential for savings as you may be able to save in areas where you have expertise — whether that’s marketing, showings, or otherwise.
Cons of Flat-Fee Brokers
While flat-fee brokers are definitely cheaper, it's important to try to compare apples to apples. When researching, ask specifics about the services provided by a flat-free broker and those provided by a traditional agent.
Flat-fee brokers don’t always provide everything a traditional agent does, or the recognition of a big-name broker. Flat-fee brokers may have less experience and that may be why they’re offering a discounted rate. If you’re looking for true full-service, a traditional agent may be the way to go.
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5 California Flat-Fee Real Estate Brokers to Consider
Redefy is a full-service flat-fee broker in California. They help people buy or sell a home for a discounted rate of $3,500 and do so through their own Redefy agents.
Pricing: Sellers pay $3,500 to Redefy for the full-service sale of the home (a $500 deposit is required to start the process). If you pay the full amount upfront prior to listing, you’ll receive the discounted rate of $2,500. Sellers are still responsible for title fees and the buyer’s commission if applicable.
- In-home consultation
- Professional photography
- Yard signs
- Lock boxes
- Scheduling showings
- MLS listing
- Help with inspections, contracts, offer negotiations, and closing
Redefy agents work solely for Redefy and are not associated with any other brokers. Agents are local to the area they serve and are paid $300 upon receiving a commission and an additional $200 after the deal has closed, according to past employee reviews online. These are relatively low commission rates for the industry, but Redefy says their agents receive a high volume of solid leads so this may make up for it.
Xome uses big data, a proprietary real estate exchange, and national real estate services to offer a one stop shop for buyers and sellers. The company’s home selling service is called Super Seller. For a flat fee, sellers list their home on the Xome’s auction site to get in front of buyers who can submit offers for your property online.
Pricing: Sellers pay a $599 one-time fee for services and no commission when their home sells. Xome. However, buyers who bid on a home via Xome’s auction are on the hook for a 5% commission, with 2% each going to the seller’s and buyer’s brokers, and the remaining 1% going to Xome.
- Professional photos
- Pricing guidance
- Listing descriptions
- Professional signage
- Lock box
- Market analysis
- MLS listng
- Open house coordination and hosting
- Manage showings
- Placement on Xome Offer Marketplace
- Help negotiating offers
Agents that work for Xome are part of their Xome Agent Network but are also represented by other local brokerages. Xome says that each member of the Xome Agent Network sells more than twice the number of properties per year than average agents and employ the latest technology to their services. While it's difficult to find exactly how much agents in the Xome network get paid, it’s likely they split the 2% commission generated from a buyer after an auction closes.
Access Coastal Realty
Access Coastal Realty is owned by Shelley Hanks and is a small-scale local flat-fee broker located in Long Beach, CA. She primarily serves Los Angeles and Orange counties and has been a full service flat fee realtor for more than 10 years. Access Coastal offers a tiered flat fee commission structure with a flat fee going to the as a listing agents and a percentage based commission going to the buyer’s agent.
Pricing: Access Coastal Realty operates on a tiered flat-fee commission structure. While they don’t charge a percentage of the final sale price like traditional agents, the costs do rise as the value of the home increases. For homes sold for less than $500,000, sellers pay a flat fee of $5,000 for full service (plus the buyer’s commission). For homes worth $500,000 to $749,000, the commission is $7,500 and for homes in the $750,000 to $999,999 range, it is $10,000. For pricing on homes above a million dollars, visit the Access Coastal Realty website.
Access Coastal Realty’s Services
- Staging suggestions
- Photography (including drone)
- Vendor referral
- MLS listing
- Contract negotiation
- Close of escrow
Shelley Hanks acts as both the broker and the real estate agent for Access Coastal Realty. She has been in real estate for nearly 20 years and runs most of the business on her own.
Homecoin.com unbundles services offered by traditional agents and lets the seller chose from a list of options, each with its own price. The most basic is the MLS listing — since only agents can submit listings to an MLS, homecoin.com provides that service for a flat fee. Other services are offered a la carte, and the site offers some helpful items like flyers and open house kits as a courtesy.
Homecoin.com’s Services and Pricing:
- Comparable Sales Report — Free
- Home Value Report — Free
- MLS listing — $95
- Lockbox rental — $125
- Pro photography — $99+
- Sign post rental — $79+
- Sign — Free with post rental
- Flyers — Free
- Open House kit — Free
- FSBO listing — Free
- Forms help (standard) — $450
- Forms help (premium) — $2,999
Since homecoin.com’s business structure caters to for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) homes, they do not offer services from real estate agents. Instead, they provide resources to help you gain more exposure or navigate the home selling process.
Clever is a full-service flat-fee broker that works with sellers and buyers in California. Clever Partner Agents are top-rated real estate agents from major brands — like Keller Williams or Century 21 — who are experts in their local markets.
Pricing: Partner Agents offer the same full service as traditional agents, but have agreed to work for 1.5% or a minimum of $3,000 if a home sells. So with Clever, you get the best of both worlds.
- Free consultation within 24 hours
- 100% full service
- Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)
- Professional photos
- Comprehensive marketing plan
- MLS listing
- Open houses and showings
- Contract negotiation
- Close of escrow
Clever Partner Agents are represented by well-known brokerages in their local area. Clever funnels leads to these experienced, licensed agents who work with sellers directly.
Top FAQs About Flat-Fee Brokers
How do I get my house on the MLS without an agent?
While only licensed brokers or real estate agents can list a home on the multiple listing service (MLS), you can use a flat-fee MLS listing service as a work-around. These websites serve as a broker on your behalf, charge you a one-time flat fee and list your property on the MLS for you. Flat-fee real estate brokers may also provide other a la carte real estate services or a full-service option similar to that provided by a traditional agent — all for a flat rate instead of a percentage of the sale price.
Is Zillow an MLS?
While Zillow is a great site to list your home to increase its exposure to potential home buyers, it is not a true multiple listing service (MLS). Zillow pulls some data from local MLS services, but only licensed real estate agents have full access to MLS or can post directly to it. There are more than 900 local MLS systems in the United States and they may include confidential information not found on Zillow like a homeowner’s contact information, the access code to a gated community, showing instructions or the amount of the agent’s commission.
How do I list for sale by owner on MLS?
One of the downsides to listing your home yourself is that only licensed real estate agents can post to a local multiple listing service (or MLS) and this is a key source of information for potential home buyers and their agents. But, there is a way around it. You can pay a flat-fee MLS broker to act on your behalf and post your home on MLS. While flat-fee brokers may also offer other services, solely an MLS listing will cost you around $100 or less.
How can I lower my real estate commission?
Real estate commissions can be one of the greatest costs of selling your home. While its unlikely you’ll be able to convince a local agent to reduce their commission, there are some other options to consider. One is to use a flat-fee real estate agents that either provides full real estate service or an a la carte menu, all for a flat rate. To ensure a good experience, find your realtor through an established real estate referral network, like Clever, that has the necessary leverage to negotiate low commission fees on your behalf, while still getting great service.