Houwzer Review 2021

By 

Katherine Peach

Updated 

January 4th, 2021

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✍️ Editor’s take: Houwzer offers true flat-fee savings — but homes near or below $500k can likely find better rates and less risk elsewhere.

Houwzer is a real estate brokerage that offers discounted rates to home sellers in select markets in five states and Washington, DC.

Houwzer charges a flat $5,000 listing fee, regardless of your home's final sale price. 

Sellers with more expensive homes could save big. Those with homes below the $500,000 mark may be able to find better savings elsewhere.

Additionally, Houwzer's business model creates risks — particularly related to customer service and agent selection — that could affect your experience.

» MORE: Save on commission without sacrificing service

 Houwzer, at a glance
$5,000
$7,000*
4.8 (1,142 reviews)
Baltimore, Orlando, Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Washington, DC.
*Compared to a 3% listing fee at four different price points.

What is Houwzer?

Houwzer is a real estate brokerage with licensed agents who can help you buy or sell a home. 

Houwzer is currently available in five metro areas on the East Coast:

  • Baltimore
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • South Jersey
  • Washington, DC (includes Northern Virginia)

💡 What makes Houwzer different?

Unlike many big-name real estate brokerages (think Century 21 and Keller Williams), Houwzer is a discount broker. Simply put, this means:
  • Houwzer offers potential commission savings compared to using a traditional real estate agent
  • Those savings may come at the expense of service quality and personalized support
» MORE: What is a discount real estate broker?

Savings for home sellers — and some buyers

If you sell with Houwzer, you'll pay a $5,000 listing fee — as well as a mandatory 2.5% buyer's agent fee — no matter what price your home sells for.

Houwzer's flat-fee pricing model means that the higher your home's sale price, the more you'll save compared to using a traditional realtor or a discount broker that charges percentage-based fees.

But the opposite is also true:

If you're selling a lower-priced home, your savings will be limited. And if your house sells for less than $170,000, you might end up paying more than if you'd hired a conventional realtor.

If you sell and buy with Houwzer, you could save an additional $2,500. The company offers a rebate to qualifying customers who complete both a sale and a purchase with Houwzer Agents.

» MORE: How much does Houwzer cost?

Who should use Houwzer?

Houwzer is worth considering if…
  • You're selling a house worth $500,000 or more
  • You're planning to sell a house and buy a new one
  • Your selling situation is straightforward
You may want to avoid Houwzer if…
  • You're selling a less expensive home
  • You only want to buy — not buy and sell
  • You're selling situation is complicated and/or you're selling a distressed property

» MORE: Somewhere else? Find discount brokers near you

Is Houwzer legitimate?

Yes, Houwzer is a licensed real estate brokerage in each of the locations where it operates.

Houwzer has an average customer rating of 4.8 based on 1,142 reviews. To date, the company has raised upwards of $17 million in investor funding.[1]

In addition, if you’re a conscious consumer who cares about the impact your dollars make, Houwzer may be worth a further look.

Houwzer is one of the few real estate companies to hold B Corp certification. This indicates that it has met certain requirements for corporate responsibility and environmental sustainability.[2]

Plus, Houwzer donates 2.5% of its profits to local charities and requires agents to spend at least 50 hours volunteering each year.

How does Houwzer work?

Houwzer's main offering is savings for home sellers. But can it really offer discounted rates and still turn a profit?

Yes — but there is a catch.

How Houwzer creates savings

Houwzer "creates" savings by finding ways to lower its operating costs and boost Its margins. It does this primarily by:

  • Using technology and a team-based approach to handle a higher volume of customers per agent
  • Lowering its customer acquisition costs by incentivizing sellers to buy a home with Houwzer too
  • Upselling existing customers on additional Houwzer services

Houwzer Agents juggle 3x as many clients as traditional realtors

Houwzer says that its agents close about 3x as many deals as traditional realtors. Since they're serving so many customers at once, they outsource many administrative tasks to a back-office team. The company also relies on a web-based platform to manage some aspects of the sales process.

This high-volume approach allows Houwzer to offer discounted rates, but it also limits the amount of attention and personalized support their agents will be able to provide throughout a sale or purchase.

For many sellers, that's a fair tradeoff. But the degree to which the potential decrease in hands-on service matters really depends on your specific situation and personal preferences.

Houwzer upsells customers on additional services

Houwzer also offsets its discounted rates by upselling existing customers on additional services.

In other words, it uses its $5,000 listing fee and potential home buyer rebate to get you in the door, then tries to get you to take advantage of other Houwzer services — and pad the company's profit margin.

Houwzer currently offers mortgage broker and title agency services, and it plans to begin offering homeowners insurance in the near future.[3]

» MORE: Learn more about Houwzer's add-on services

How much does Houwzer cost?

Service
Fee
Listing fee
$5,000
Buyer's agent commission
2.5%

When you sell a home with Houwzer, you'll likely be on the hook for two main fees:

  • Houwzer's flat listing fee: $5,000
  • Buyer's agent commission: 2.5% of the home's final selling price

As with a traditional agent, you pay these fees at closing after your sale is complete.

💡 Why do sellers typically cover the buyer’s agent commission?

When you sell a house with a traditional realtor, the total commission is typically between 5-6%. This fee is actually made up of two fees:
  • 50% goes to your agent, who helps you market and sell your home
  • 50% goes to the buyer’s agent, who brings their client to purchase it
In reality, both fees are wrapped into your home’s price and are taken from the sale proceeds. Of course, as with many aspects of a real estate transaction, commission is negotiable.

»LEARN: How do realtor commissions work?

Note that although most brokerages allow sellers to set their own buyer's agent commission rate, Houwzer mandates that sellers offer 2.5%. This could put you at a competitive disadvantage in some areas. You want your buyer’s agent fee to be competitive with rates offered on homes in your neighborhood and price range, otherwise your home might get less foot traffic.

Houwzer's rate should be competitive in most locations — the typical rate nationwide 2.5-3%. But be sure to research what's common in your area to make sure you aren’t underpaying or overpaying on buyer’s agent commission!

» MORE: What’s the average commission rate in my area?

How much could you save with Houwzer?

Houwzer’s flat $5,000 listing fee could save you a lot of money — and the higher your home’s value, the more you save compared to a traditional “percentage of sale” realtor fee.

However, with a lower-priced home, Houwzer’s flat fee can actually work against you. If your home costs $170,000 or less, you may actually pay more with Houwzer than with a traditional agent.

Here's how the savings from Houwzer's flat listing fee break down across four different price points:

Price Point
Effective Rate
Savings*
$100,000
5%
-$2,000
$250,000
2%
$2,500
$500,000
1%
$10,000
$750,000
0.67%
$17,500
Average
2.2%
$7,000
*Compared to a 3% listing fee

Of course, there’s a caveat to “higher savings at a higher price”: the pricier your home, the more you stand to lose if something goes wrong in the sale. Make sure to choose an agent who can net you the highest price, and not just charge the lowest fee.

Compare agents and save thousands

Try our free agent-matching service! Clever will get proposals from the top agents in your area — and negotiate discounted rates of just $3K or 1%.

How good are Houwzer Agents?

All Houwzer Agents are fully licensed realtors who provide the same general range of services as a traditional real estate brokerage. However, there are a few crucial factors that could affect your experience or outcome.

Agent experience — and service quality — will vary

Some Houwzer Agents have extensive real estate experience, while others are brand-new to the industry. 

Houwzer job listings indicate that the requirements are:

  • A high school diploma
  • 2 years of experience working in an office

Theoretically, your agent could be a 20-year-old who spent two years answering phones in their dad's office!

Surveying consumer reviews of Houwzer, most sellers and buyers report excellent service with hardworking agents, but a few call out agents with lacking responsiveness and communication skills.

Salaried agents have less direct incentive

The biggest difference between Houwzer Agents and realtors from a traditional brokerage: Houwzer Agents earn a salary instead of commission.

💰 Realtor incentives may impact service quality!

Typical realtors collect no salary and are paid commission instead. This means they only make money when they succeed in helping their clients complete transactions.

By offering a salary and benefits, Houwzer hopes to attract agents who want more stability. But they may also be less-aggressive — or less talented — than agents who choose to work on a strictly “pay for performance” model.

Houwzer Agents earn FAR less than top-selling realtors

We've done some research comparing salaries advertised in Houwzer job listings with the average income for agents in Pennsylvania and the income of the top 10% agents in that state.

Houwzer Agents*
$42,000 + bonuses
All PA Agents (Mean)**
$62,430
Top 10% PA Agents**
$100,460
*Data on income for Houwzer Agents taken from Houwzer job listings.
**Data on income for PA Agents from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2019.[4]

Houwzer’s salaries are the lowest by far. This could impact the company's ability to attract and retain talented agents.

Always compare MULTIPLE agents to find the best fit

When interviewing agents, consider their:

  • Experience in the specific neighborhood and price range where you plan to buy or sell
  • Past customer reviews and testimonials
  • Communication style and responsiveness
  • Estimate of your home’s value
  • And finally, the fees they charge, too!

You’re hiring an agent to handle what may be one of the biggest financial transactions in your life — it pays to take your time and find the right expert.

Houwzer makes it difficult to find the right agent

Unfortunately, that's difficult to do with Houwzer, which doesn't encourage agent-swapping.

When you sign up for Houwzer, the company will connect you with an agent representing your area. You must first meet with that agent and then decide whether you want Houwzer to make another introduction for you.

You can't just look at a website to find out the agent's qualifications or have a brief phone chat with a few different employees before deciding whether or not to use Houwzer.

» SAVE: Compare top local agents, save thousands on commission

How does Houwzer compare to top alternatives?


Houwzer
Clever
Redfin
Prevu
Avg Customer Rating
4.8 (1,142 reviews)
4.9 (590 reviews)
3.2 (287 reviews)
4.9 (115 reviews)
Dedicated point of contact?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
In-person support?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Regions Covered
DC, MD, FL, PA, NJ, VA
National
National
CT, PA, NY
Listing Fee
$5,000
$3,000 or 1%
1.5% (Min. fees vary by market)
1.5% (Min. $7,500 in Philly)
Avg Savings*
$7,000
$7,375
$6,000
$3,563

*Average fee compared to a 3% commission at four price points: $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, $750,000.

Service level is in line with most discount brokers

Like many discount brokers, Houwzer offers full service representation. You'll receive one-on-one guidance and help from a dedicated agent (while an in-house team takes care of paperwork and marketing on the back end).

Houwzer offers legit savings — but not if you're selling an inexpensive home

Unlike many of its competitors, Houwzer charges a flat fee, rather than a percentage, for the listing agent's commission. That's great if you're selling an expensive home. But for lower priced properties, Houwzer might cost MORE than using other discount brokers — or even a traditional real estate agent!

Here's how much you'd pay for listing a home in Philadelphia at various price points with Houwzer compared to several alternatives.

Price Point
Houwzer
Clever
Redfin
Traditional Realtor*
$100,000
$5,000
$3,000
$3,000 (min.)
$3,000
$175,000
$5,000
$3,000
$3,000 (min.)
$5,250
$250,000
$5,000
$3,000
$3,750 (1.5%)
$7,500
$500,000
$5,000
$5,000 (1%)
$7,500 (1.5%)
$15,000
$750,000
$5,000
$7,500 (1%)
$11,250 (1.5%)
$22,500
*Assumes a 3% listing fee

By our calculations, you would need to sell your home for at least $500,000 for Houwzer to be less expensive than Redfin, Prevu, or other discount brokers that charge 1-2%.

Once you get below $170,000, Houwzer becomes an even worse bargain than hiring a conventional realtor.

Always hire the agent — NOT the brand

Houwzer's savings really begin to shine the closer you get to the $1 million price point. But remember: experience and service quality will vary a LOT between Houwzer Agents.

When considering a listing agent, make sure that the agent's experience matches your price point. You're hiring the agent — not the brand. And you don't want to be anyone's first million-dollar home!

Connect with top local agents, save thousands!

Try Clever’s free agent-matching service today.

Selling with Houwzer

The experience of selling with Houwzer is similar to that of selling with a traditional agent. However, there are two key differences:

  • Houwzer offers built-in discounts on listing fees.
  • Houwzer's agents don't work on commission; they're full-time, salaried employees.

Your agent may have less incentive to sell your home for top dollar

Houwzer Agents receive a salary, as well as bonuses. They don't earn commissions.

That could have important implications for both home sellers and buyers.

Traditionally, real estate agents earn commissions, which means the more money they can sell a home for, the more they'll earn.

Houwzer Agents earn the same paycheck no matter how much money their sales have earned.

By hiring salaried employees, Houwzer can ensure its agents are following standardized company procedures — making its operations efficient and cost-effective.

And in theory, salaried agents are less pushy than ones whose livelihoods depend on commission.

But if you're a seller, sometimes you want a pushy agent who'll fight to sell your home for top dollar.

Be prepared to sign a six-month contract

Once you've decided to use a Houwzer listing agent, you'll sign a six-month contract (longer than with some other discount brokers we've reviewed).

A Houwzer Agent informed me that sellers could terminate the contract at any time if they are unhappy with their service and not have to pay any penalty.

However, before signing a contract, make sure that you read the terms carefully to ensure that this is indeed the case.

» MORE: Read this BEFORE you sign a listing agreement

What to expect when signing up

In testing Houwzer's onboarding experience, I submitted a form after 5 p.m. Houwzer texted and emailed me a generic "thanks" message. I also received a more personalized email from a representative, inviting me to schedule a call with a local agent.

I asked a few questions about Houwzer's service via email and received fast and polite responses. And I was pleased that Houwzer made contact on my terms. I didn't receive a pesky follow-up call from an agent out of the blue.

Watch out for unsolicited communications

However, there was a troubling incident worth mentioning. The day after I left my contact information with Houwzer, I received a text message from a local number indicating my street address and asking if I would be interested in selling my house for cash. I asked the sender how they got my number, and they responded that they received it from a "premium white pages."

My Houwzer form entry had been the first time I had ever given out my phone number in connection to potentially selling my house. I have never received a message like that before.

Tread carefully if you value your privacy

Houwzer's website states that it will "limit access to your contact information to Houwzer only," but I'm suspicious. Privacy-minded individuals might want to think twice before submitting contact information to the site.

What services do you get when you sell with Houwzer?

Your Houwzer Agent will personally take care of most aspects of the sale for you. There is an administrative team that handles paperwork, marketing, and accounting. Again, Houwzer says this is to help agents better focus on the sellers.

If you schedule an open house, a Houwzer buyer's agent will run it. We suspect this is so the buyer's agent can find prospective customers. Regardless of which agent your buyer uses, Houwzer prompts its sellers to offer a buyer's agent commission of 2.5%.

Buying with Houwzer

Buying a house with Houwzer is much like using a traditional brokerage. Your buyer's agent (who works only on the buy-side and doesn't list homes) will help you with house hunting, showings, preparing offers, paperwork, negotiations, and closing. There's no fee to use the agent (typically, the agent will be paid commission by the seller at closing).

The big difference is that Houwzer buyer's agents are salaried, full-time employees.

As a buyer, this could benefit you in two ways:

  • Your agent isn't incentivized to pressure you to pull the trigger and buy a home when you're not comfortable; they get paid either way.
  • Your agent's paycheck doesn't directly correlate to the home's final purchase price, which could motivate them to drive a harder bargain on your behalf.

Although the salaried-agent model might not be ideal for sellers, it may work out to be in buyers' best interests.

Does Houwzer offer a home buyer rebate?

People who both buy and sell with Houwzer receive either a cashback rebate or a discount on their listing fee. And there's no expiration for this offer, either.

📢 An important note about home buyer rebates

There are a TON of rules and restrictions surrounding commission rebates. This is why you’ll almost always see conditional language in advertisements — i.e., “Get up to X%” or “$X on average.”

Make sure to read the fine print up front so you don't encounter any unwelcome surprises later on.

» LEARN: Everything you should know about home buyer rebates

Here's how it works:

If you sell your house with Houwzer and then buy another house with a Houwzer Agent at any time after that, you'll receive a $2,500 rebate. However, if you buy a home with a Houwzer agent and later decide to sell it (or another property) at any time after that, Houwzer will knock $2,500 (50%) off your listing fee. There's no expiration date on this offer.

Although an effective listing agent commission of $2,500 for those who both buy and sell with the company sounds like a great deal, keep in mind that other discount brokers offer rebates WITHOUT the requirement to sell.

Compare top buyer’s agents near you

Clever matches you with top agents in your area and helps you find the perfect fit. Qualifying buyers can even get up to 1% back at closing.

Houwzer's add-on services

Folks looking to buy a new home — or refinance their current one — might be interested in Houwzer's mortgage advisor service. This service can also help you find discounted rates from a variety of lenders and handle the application process for you.

And in 2018, Houwzer launched an in-house title company. The company is also preparing to roll out an insurance business next.

✍️ Editor's note

While the idea of a “one-stop-shop” sounds easy and appealing, it will rarely get you the best service quality or value available.

Your best bet will often be a local company that specializes in the service you’re looking for. If you’re considering using one of Houwzer's “add-on" services, always compare it to several other options in your area.

Houwzer customer reviews

Note: The following review information is up-to-date as of 1/4/2021. We will update this section as new information becomes available.


Rating
# of reviews
Weighted Avg
4.8
1,142
4.9
651
3.5
20
4.8
192
4.8
279

For the most part, customers report positive experiences using Houwzer for both buying and selling. As of this writing, the company has an average customer rating of 4.8 out of 1,142 total reviews. But as with a traditional real estate agency, your experience will depend mainly on which agent you use.

My Houwzer Agent went 'above and beyond'

Yelp user Anthony M. said he had an "amazing experience" using Houwzer to sell, buy, and get a mortgage. He specifically called out his Houwzer Agent's attention to detail and responsiveness throughout the process.

Houwzer's business model didn't incentivize my agent to work hard

On the other hand, this Yelp user in Malvern, PA had a negative experience with Houwzer. They felt that Houwzer’s business model didn’t incentivize agents to work hard for their clients.

Compare multiple agents before making a decision

One theme that continuously pops up in Houwzer reviews is that the customer's experience is shaped — for better or worse — by the quality of their individual agent.

Unfortunately, Houwzer doesn't let you easily pick an agent from its stable. The company requires you to meet with an assigned agent and then request another introduction if you're not happy.

We recommend reaching out to Houwzer directly — along with a few other services or agents — to discuss your situation and determine which approach or specific option is the best fit for you.

Conclusion: is Houwzer right for you?

Houwzer is a totally legitimate service that has helped many people sell their home successfully. Whether it's a good choice for you really comes down to:

  • Your price range
  • Your personal preferences (and tolerance for risk)
  • Your specific situation
  • The quality of the Houwzer Agents in your area.

The important thing to remember is that there’s no obligation to move forward or commit when you’re interviewing different real estate agents or services.

You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by shopping around and comparing rates, experience, and personalities to find the perfect fit.

Next Steps: Talk to an expert!

If you're looking to buy or sell a house and weighing your options, Clever can help!

Our fully licensed Concierge Team is standing by to answer questions and provide free, objective advice on how to get the best outcome with your sale or purchase.

Ready to get started?

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

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

Houwzer locations and contact information

Houwzer's business hours

Monday-Friday
9-5 ET
Saturday
10-2 ET

Houwzer's general contact information

Phone
(215) 876-2876
Email
support@houwzer.com

Greater Baltimore Office

Contact info
Office Address
101 W. Dickman St
Suite 1000
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone
(410) 559-0155
Email
baltimore@houwzer.com

Service area
Anne Arundel County
Baltimore City
Baltimore County
Carroll County
Howard County

Greater Washington, DC Office

Contact info
Office Address
740 15th Street NW #800
Washington, DC 20005
Phone
(202) 866-8787
Email
dc@houwzer.com

Service area
Arlington County (VA)
Manassas Park (VA)
Alexandria (VA)
Montgomery County (MD)
Fairfax County (VA)
Prince George’s County (MD)
Falls Church (VA)
Prince William County (VA)
Loudoun County (VA)
DC Metro Area
Manassas (VA)

Greater Orlando Office

Contact info
Office Address
100 East Pine Street
Suite #110
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone
(321) 441-1440
Email
orlando@houwzer.com

Service area
Orlando
Most of Orange County
Most of Osceola County
Most of Seminole County
Most of Volusia County

Greater Philadelphia Office

Contact info
Office Address
1435 Walnut St.
3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone
(215) 607-8942
Email
philadelphia@houwzer.com

Service area
Bucks County
Chester County
Delaware County
Montgomery County
City of Philadelphia

South Jersey Office

Contact info
Office Address
2 Kings Highway W.
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Phone
(215) 607-8926
Email
southjersey@houwzer.com

Service area
Most of Burlington County
Most of Camden County
Some of Gloucester County