Discount vs. Full Service Realtor: What's The Difference?

Trent Seigfried

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Trent Seigfried

January 18th, 2022
Updated January 18th, 2022

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What is a full-service realtor? | Types of discount realtors | Are discount realtors worth it? | Top discount real estate brands

When you're selling a house, hiring a full-service realtor is typically a good idea. These agents provide dedicated, hands-on service throughout your entire sale, helping you price your home accurately, find a buyer quickly, and negotiate an offer that gets you top dollar.

Historically, finding a full-service realtor meant working with a traditional brokerage like RE/MAX or Keller Williams. These companies usually charge a standard 2.5–3% listing fee, which translates into a hefty price tag on most home sales.

Discount realtors and brokerages have gained popularity in recent years. These brands typically charge thousands less than traditional agents, so the savings potential is huge.

But while some discount realtors offer genuine full service that's on par with conventional brokerages, others come with service trade-offs that make them a riskier option for some sellers.

There's no right or wrong answer, but it's important to understand your options. In this guide, we'll help you understand how full-service and discount realtors work so you can choose the agent that offers the most overall value for your money.

» COMPARE: The Best Low Commission Real Estate Brokers in 2022

What is a full-service realtor?

A full-service realtor is a real estate agent that handles your home sale from start to finish. Most traditional brokerages are considered full service, including nationwide brands like Century 21, Berkshire Hathaway, Keller Williams, and RE/Max.

What full-service realtors do for home sellers

When you sell your property with a full-service realtor, they'll guide you through your entire sale, from before you list your house on the market to the day you sign your closing papers.

Along the way, they'll provide all of the services you need to sell your home, including:

  • A professional home valuation to help you price your home accurately

  • Advice on how to stage your home to attract buyers

  • High-quality photographs for your listing

  • Advertising your home on the local multiple listing service (MLS) and home-buying websites like Zillow

  • Organizing and managing open houses for your property

  • Negotiating with buyers on your behalf

  • Assisting with paperwork to help you avoid costly legal liabilities

These services (and more) add up to more positive attention from buyers, which increases the likelihood your home will sell quickly and for top dollar.

How much does a full-service realtor cost?

Fee
Rate
Listing agent commission
2.5–3%
Buyer's agent commission
2.5–3%
Total commission fees
5–6%

Selling with a full-service realtor from a traditional brokerage typically costs 5–6% of the sale price, which comprises commission fees for both the seller's agent and buyer's agent.

However, average commission rates vary by location and have begun declining in recent years. Factors like rising home prices and competition from full-service discount brokerages are making rates more affordable than ever.

What is a discount realtor?

A discount realtor is any real estate agent who charges less than the typical 2.5% to 3% commission that traditional brokerages usually charge. Discount real estate companies come at a variety of different price points and offer varying levels of service:

Full-service discount realtors

Full-service discount realtors offer a similar range of services and support as agents at traditional brokerages but charge less than you'd typically pay a full-service agent.

How much do full-service discount realtors cost?

Full-service discount real estate companies come at a range of different price points.Most nationwide and regional discount realtors charge a 1–2% commission. That’s substantially lower than the standard 2.5–3% listing fee that traditional brokerages usually charge.

Getting a discounted listing fee could net you huge savings. For example, on a $400,000 home, selling with a 1% commission realtor could help you keep an extra $8,000 in your pocket!

Home value
1% commission savings*
$300,000
$6,000
$500,000
$10,000
$750,000
$15,000
$1,000,000
$20,000
*Compared with a standard 3% listing fee

What full-service discount realtors do for home sellers

Full-service discount realtors provide the same basic services you would expect from a full-service traditional realtor, including:

  • A professional home valuation

  • High-quality photography

  • Advertising on the MLS, Zillow, and other real estate websites

  • Open houses and showings as needed

  • Negotiation support

  • Paperwork assistance

Depending on the discount brand, they may also provide premium services like virtual home tours and paid digital marketing.

How full-service discount realtors create savings

Discount real estate brands provide full service for low commission rates by finding ways to make the home selling process more efficient.

For example, Clever Real Estate helps top-rated agents at traditional brokerages save on marketing expenses. Even the most experienced agents spend a TON of money finding new customers.

Clever connects traditional agents with home sellers at no upfront cost. Your agent can pass part of the savings to you by charging a fraction of their standard listing fee.

» SAVE: Sell with a top local agent for a $3,000 or 1% listing fee

Other low-fee real estate companies are trying to reinvent the entire home selling model. Discount brands like Redfin and Houwzer hire their own in-house agents and attempt to compete directly with traditional brokerages.

These discount companies provide the same basic services as traditional brokerages like Century 21 and RE/MAX, but the experience may feel a bit different than working with a conventional realtor. For instance, you may have different team members manage different stages of your sale, rather than working with a single, dedicated agent from start to finish.

Limited-service discount realtors

Limited-service discount realtors offer some, but not all, of the standard services provided by traditional brokerages.

How much do limited-service agents cost?

Limited-service realtors come at a variety of different price points, but they're rarely a good value for the average home seller.

Many limited-service brands charge à la carte fees for individual services, such as listing your house on the MLS and providing paperwork assistance. The individual costs may look cheap, but they add up quickly — and you have to pay them up front. Depending on how much support you actually need, you may not end up saving much working with them compared with a full-service agent.

Other limited-service brokerages charge flat commission rates — often 1–2% of the sale price — for listing packages that may include additional services such as remote support from a licensed agent. However, plenty of discount brands offer genuine full service for similar rates (or less), so most sellers will find better dollar-for-dollar value elsewhere.

What limited-service agents do (and don't do) for home sellers

Limited-service brokerages vary widely in what services and support they provide. At a minimum, most of these discount companies offer an MLS listing, along with any other services that are required by law.

Depending on the company, it may add additional services like a professional home valuation, contract assistance, and marketing materials such as flyers or a "for sale" sign. In general, the more services the company provides, the more it will cost you.

Limited-service brokerages almost never provide you with a dedicated agent to oversee your sale from start to finish. If you have access to an agent at all, it will likely be via a customer support line — you'll typically never meet them face-to-face.

» MORE: What to know about limited-service realtors

Are discount realtors worth it?

Discount realtors can be a great option for budget-conscious home sellers, but the value depends on the company, their services, and the potential cost savings.

Working with a full-service discount realtor is the right fit for most people. The top full-service brands offer commission savings without sacrificing the services and support you need to sell your house for the best price possible.

Listing with a limited-service brokerage is too risky for most sellers. These companies advertise cheap rates — but almost always at the expense of services that can directly affect your ability to find a buyer quickly and negotiate an attractive offer. Unless you're an experienced home seller in a hot real estate market, the potential savings likely aren't worth the trade-offs.

The best discount real estate companies

The best discount real estate companies offer huge savings with few (if any) trade-offs compared with traditional, full-service brokerages.

Best for most sellers: Clever Real Estate

Clever Real Estate

Clever Real Estate

Learn More

💲 Listing Fee

$3,000 or 1%

💰 Avg. Savings

$7,375

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

4.9/5 (1,512 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Clever is a quick, easy, and free way to find a top-rated local agent. And, unlike many similar companies, Clever pre-negotiates big discounts on your behalf, so you can save thousands without sacrificing on service.


Try Clever for free — save thousands on commission

  • Free, nationwide agent-matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX
  • Provides multiple agent matches so you can interview, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit
  • Pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf — you get full service for a flat $3,000 listing fee, or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000
  • If you buy with Clever, you could get a check worth up to 0.5% of the home price
  • You may not get matched with an agent from your preferred real estate brokerage
  • Agents may not provide premium services like drone photography and professional home staging

As of March 11, 2022, Clever has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on 1,512 reviews.


Read reviews from real Clever customers here.

Clever has pre-negotiated low commission rates with top agents in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

SHOW MORE

The best discount real estate company for most home sellers is Clever Real Estate. With listing fees of just $3,000 or 1%, it offers the most affordable rates of any full-service brand that's available nationwide.

Clever's free, no obligations service connects you with top agents from trusted full-service brokerages like Berkshire Hathaway and Coldwell Banker. And since Clever pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf, you'll get the traditional agent experience, for a third of the price!

» MORE: Learn more about how Clever works — and how much you can save!

Best for $1 million homes: Houwzer

💲 Listing Fee

$5,000

💰 Avg. Savings

$7,000

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating

4.8/5 (1,300 reviews)

✍️ Editor's Take
Pros
Cons
Reviews
Locations

Houwzer offers true flat-fee savings — but homes near or below $500,000 can likely find better rates and less risk elsewhere.


Read the full Houwzer review.

  • Huge commission savings on luxury homes
  • Listing fee includes virtual home tours and other premium marketing services
  • Houwzer has a small team, which limits your options if you don't hit it off with the first agent they send you
  • If you're selling a lower-priced home, Houwzer may not be cheaper than selling with a traditional realtor

Houwzer has a 4.8 out of 5 rating (1,300 reviews) across popular review sites like Google and Zillow.


Read reviews from real Houwzer customers here.

Houwzer is available in the following locations: FL, MD, NJ, PA, VA, DC.

SHOW MORE

Houwzer is a great option if you're selling an expensive home and savings are a top priority. Houwzer charges a flat $5,000 listing fee, no matter what your home is worth. That pricing structure translates into huge savings on homes worth $1 million or more, though it offers less value on lower-priced homes.

Unlike Clever, Houwzer hires its own in-house agents, instead of matching you with realtors from traditional brokerages. All of Houwzer's agents provide the same basic services as conventional realtors, but you may encounter minor trade-offs — and you'll have extremely limited options when it comes to picking your agent.

Redfin

Redfin is a popular home search tool and full-service discount real estate brokerage. It's a well-established brand with a solid track record overall, but its 1.5% listing fee is less competitive than other low commission companies.

Ideal Agent

Ideal Agent pre-negotiates 2% listing fees with realtors at conventional brokerages. It's a great way to find a qualified agent and save on commission, but Clever offers a similar service for roughly half the price.

Most home sellers should work with a full-service brokerage. But if you're an experienced home seller in a hot market, the following limited-service brands may be worth considering.

Homie Real Estate

Homie Real Estate is an option for experienced home sellers who aren't afraid of rolling up their sleeves and doing more of the work themselves. Its flat $3,500 listing fee could mean big savings if you're selling an expensive home, but you'll miss out on some key services and support — and your agent will be 100% remote.

Trelora

Trelora is a discount real estate brokerage that charges flat $3,000-4,000 listing fees in some markets and 1% commission rates in others. It offers more support than the average limited-service brokerage, but its agents handle about 20x as many home sales as the average realtor, so you should expect less personalized customer service.

What type of realtor is right for me?

Working with a full-service realtor is the right fit for most home sellers. It's the best way to guarantee that you have all the service and support you need to have a successful sale.

In the past, getting full service typically meant working with a traditional brokerage and paying a standard 2.5–3% listing fee. But today, top discount brands offer full service for as little as 1%.

Choosing an agent is an incredibly personal decision, so it pays to shop around! Interview agents from multiple brokerages so you can find the best realtor for your priorities and budget.

👋 Next Steps: Talk to an expert!

If you're weighing your options for buying or selling a house, Clever can help!

Our fully-licensed concierge team is standing by to answer questions and provide free, objective advice on getting the best outcome with your sale or purchase.

Ready to get started?

Give us a call at 1-833-2-CLEVER or enter your info below. Our concierge team will be in touch shortly to help.

Remember, this service is 100% free and there’s never any obligation.

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FAQs

The top discount real estate brands include Clever Real Estate, Redfin, and SimpleShowing. These companies offer incredible discounts on realtor commissions with few (or no!) service quality compromises.

A full-service discount realtor is an excellent option for most home sellers because they offer lower fees while still matching or exceeding the service and support you'd expect from traditional realtors. That said, not all discount brands are created equal — some limited-service brokerages offset their low rates by gutting crucial services like face-to-face support from your agent. Find the top discount real estate brokerages here.

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