Updated July 3rd, 2019

When buying or selling a home, a good real estate agent can make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, finding the right agent is often easier said than done.

To try to solve this problem, several digital services that help connect you with top agents have emerged. While they are useful, their presence creates a new dilemma: which of these services is worth using?

HomeLight is a company that’s part of this new wave of real estate services. It uses data to “connect [buyers and sellers] with the perfect agent.” But can HomeLight get you the results you’re looking for?

Before moving forward with any service, it’s important to investigate all your potential options. If you’d like to learn more about buying a new home or selling your current one, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced real estate agent by filling out this form. We’ll reach out to you shortly and answer any questions you may have.

What is HomeLight?

HomeLight is essentially a search engine for real estate agents — a little like Google for real estate. It compiles and ranks over two million realtors based on their track record. When you begin a search, the website runs through several metrics to find the best agents in your area — that is, the ones with the highest sales volume, the shortest sales cycles, and the best individual sales prices.

After inputting your zip code, name, and phone number on their website, HomeLight presents you with a list of agents who operate in your area. After receiving the initial search results, you can narrow them down based on more specific criteria, just like filtering a search on Amazon or another e-commerce site.

Do you want a master negotiator? No problem. What about a top seller? Sure thing. How about someone who specializes in homes under $300,000? Just enter the criteria, and the search will return an agent who fits your needs.

HomeLight believes that you’ll be able to find the perfect agent quickly due to the sheer number of data points that their algorithm takes into account.

Is HomeLight legitimate?

HomeLight is a legitimate service. It has been in business for eight years and has good ratings on several sites like Glassdoor and Highya. It has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There are many positive HomeLight reviews scattered across the internet, so you can be sure the company is trustworthy.

How does HomeLight work?

HomeLight functions like a search engine for real estate agents. It provides you with a list of real estate agents by asking you to input increasingly specific criteria. In theory, the more refined your search becomes, the better match you will find.

HomeLight starts by asking where you’re looking to buy or sell, then continues on to what kind of property you’re looking for, your target price range, your timeline, and so on. The list of matches gets smaller with each additional piece of information you submit.

Other criteria that you can use to filter your HomeLight searches include:

  • Local agents who understand your locale
  • Realtors with expertise in your price range
  • Expert negotiators
  • Agents who will spend a lot of time with you (an excellent option for first-time home buyers)
  • Agents who can sell homes quickly

By giving HomeLight as much information as possible about your situation, preferences, and goals, the algorithm creates a shortlist of prospective agents that should be a great match. From there, you can speak with any of these agents over the phone or in person for a more in-depth interview before deciding to sign with them.

What is HomeLight Simple Sale?

HomeLight’s Simple Sale is the company’s foray into the iBuyer and instant buyer space. Simple Sale offers homeowners the option of putting their home up for sale and receiving cash offers within 48 hours. The user can then decide between the offers they received and wrap up their home sale within a few days.

This is a similar service to the ones offered by their competitors Opendoor and Zillow. The main difference is that while most companies only provide a single offer, HomeLight gives you several to choose from. In fact, they’ll even provide you with offers from Opendoor and Zillow!

If you’re considering going this route, it’s important to note that although these types of sales go quickly, they often come with high service charges — sometimes as much as 13%! You must evaluate each offer individually and weigh the pros and cons.

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Benefits of HomeLight

If the prospect of having to choose between hundreds of qualified local agents in your area is overwhelming for you, HomeLight’s simplicity could be a significant draw. You can use the platform to search for and quickly assess candidates in your local market that have experience working with your unique needs and restrictions.

However, HomeLight’s services end at the point of referral. Once connected with the agent, it’s up to you to evaluate the agent and negotiate their commission rate. You get the connection, but no additional cost savings after that.

Drawbacks of HomeLight

While HomeLight claims to have nationwide coverage, if you live in a small town or a more rural area, you may find it difficult to use the service. Although the company is investing time and energy into expanding its agent network, options remain limited (or nonexistent) in certain areas.

It’s also worth noting that while HomeLight’s data-driven approach is impressive, it doesn’t guarantee an optimal outcome or tell you the full story about the agents it recommends for you.

For example, the website’s analytics engine is primarily focused on sales volume — while you can quickly get a clear picture of their sales-to-listing ratio, it doesn’t provide insights into other key qualities like trustworthiness, personality, dedication, etc. On paper, it might seem like someone is the best real estate agent for you, but in practice, they may not provide the level or quality of service you’re looking for.

As with any automated service, it’s best to approach the generated list of results with caution, rather than accept them as unquestioned truth.

Alternatives to Consider

Although HomeLight seems to do a great job of helping buyers and sellers narrow down some options, the service leaves out one essential factor from their search: cost. Unlike other companies like Clever, HomeLight only provides agent matching and referral services — it offers no additional cost benefits to you. In fact, it won’t even let you search by commission rate!

In the U.S., the average real estate agent commission fee paid by sellers is about 6% (typically split between the listing and buyer’s agents) of the home’s final sale price — some agents charge even more. That means that even if you find a great agent on HomeLight who can sell your home quickly and for top dollar, they’ll still be walking away with a massive chunk of your profits after closing.

Clever connects you with top-rated flat fee real estate agents who will sell your house for just $3,000 if it closes for under $350,000, or 1% if it sells for more than that threshold. When you add in the buyer’s agent’s ~3% commission, that means that you can sell your house for as low as 3.9% in commission fees with Clever.

Although a 2% difference may not sound like much, it can add up when you’re talking about something as expensive as a house. For example, if you hire a traditional real estate agent through HomeLight and sell your home for $600,000, you likely must hand over ~$36,000 in commission fees to your agent after the deal goes through.

However, the same deal with a Clever agent would only cost you $24,000 — that’s over $10,000 saved!

Just like HomeLight, Clever provides free referral services that connect you to top-performing, full-service agents from major brands and regional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, RE/MAX, and Coldwell Banker. However, the big difference is that Clever saves you money too — and that means you can save tens of thousands of dollars on your home sale.

If you want to save thousands of dollars on your home sale, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced Partner Agents. Just fill out our form and we’ll reach out to you shortly.

Top FAQs for People Considering HomeLight

1. How do I find the best realtor in my area?

Start by asking friends, family, and neighbors if they know any talented real estate agents. After getting a few names, reach out to some agents and ask for references. Look through their current listings so you can get a better idea of their style. Once you’ve found one you feel confident about, schedule a face-to-face meeting and see how well the two of you gel.

If your family and friends don’t provide any leads, you can begin your search by looking through current listings, picking out a few you like, and contacting the agents representing them. You can also find a great local real estate agent with Clever.

2. How do I choose a realtor to sell my house?

Asking friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations is an excellent way to start your search for a realtor. Once you’ve got a few names, schedule some interviews, look through their past and current listings, and ask for some references. Make sure you meet face-to-face with any agent you’re considering, as it’s essential that you and your agent are compatible on a personal level.

Clever can also help you find an expert real estate agent in your area. All Clever Partner Agents are top-rated agents, so you can rest assured that you’ll be connected with a high-caliber agent.

3. How do I find a buyer’s real estate agent?

Begin your search by asking family, friends, and neighbors if they have any personal recommendations. If you know anyone who recently bought a house, ask them for the name of their realtor.

After you’ve got a list of a few names, start contacting them. Talk with them over the phone and then schedule an in-person meeting so you can see how you feel about them. You can also use services like Clever that connect you with a local buyer’s agent.

4. How much do I pay a realtor to sell my house?

Sellers typically pay 6% of the sales price in commission fees after closing on their home. This includes both the buyer’s and seller’s agent’s commission fees, each of which are typically 3%. Although it may come as a surprise, sellers pay the buyer’s agent’s fee so as not to discourage them from making a purchase for financial reasons. By keeping costs low for the buyer, the seller is more likely to make a sale.

There are alternatives, however, such as limited service real estate agents and Clever Partner Agents. When working with Clever, you can sell your house for as little 3.9% in commission fees.

5. Can I sell my house without a realtor?

Yes. Selling your home without a realtor is called selling your home For Sale By Owner (FSBO). While FSBO sales will save you money in commission fees, selling without an agent usually leads to a lower closing price — what you save on commission will end up coming out of your pocket.

Real estate agents help you competitively price your home, promote it, time the market, and negotiate counteroffers. These skills take years to master and can drastically affect the closing price of a home, so unless you’re already a skilled real estate professional, you will probably do better working with someone who is.