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How Do Real Estate Agent Referral Companies Work?

How do you pick out a real estate agent? What are the similarities and differences among Clever Real Estate, HomeLight, and UpNest? Learn how working with a Clever Partner Agent may help you save money if you are selling your home.
How do you pick out a real estate agent? What are the similarities and differences among Clever Real Estate, HomeLight, and UpNest? Learn how working with a Clever Partner Agent may help you save money if you are selling your home.

If you are buying or selling a home, you want to work with a top-rated agent from your local area. How do you find one?

If you do a quick Google search, you will be inundated with pages of realtors all claiming that they are performing at the top of their game.

If you ask for recommendations from friends and family, your neighbor may suggest that you use the services of his aunt, who sells three houses a year. Your mom may want you to hire your cousin’s wife’s brother, who has just earned his real estate license.

Who should you hire to represent you in the sale or purchase of one of your most significant investments?

Read about Clever Real Estate, HomeLight, and UpNest. Make your own decision about which company’s services are right for you.

Clever Real Estate

Clever agents will sell your home for a flat fee. In fact, Clever only charges $3,000 on homes valued below $350,000 and 1% on homes valued above that amount.

To receive this offer, you give Clever your necessary information, and they will connect you with a highly rated agent working for a major real estate company in your area. Your agent will offer you full-service support for a discounted rate.

Let’s say you are selling your two-story house in South Dakota valued at $198,000. If you work with a Clever Partner Agent, you will pay a commission of $3,000.Working with your cousin’s wife’s brother, you will pay $5,940, which is the typical 3% commission rate that most realtors expect.

If you buy a home through a Clever Partner Agent, you may qualify for a home buyer rebate. Available in most states, this $1,000 rebate can pay some of your closing costs.


HomeLight is another service that helps buyers and sellers find a real estate agent. You provide information whether you are ready to buy or sell, what kind of property you are seeking help with, and your target price range and HomeLight will give you a list of agents working in your area.

You can narrow down the list of agents to find those with a lot of experience at negotiating, agents who typically sell homes quickly, or agents who enjoy working with first-time buyers or sellers.

Once you have picked an agent, it is up to you to negotiate the commission rate. As we already mentioned, real estate agents typically earn a 3% realtor commission regardless if they are helping you sell or buy. In the above scenario, a HomeLight agent will collect $2,940 more than a Clever Partner Agent.


You may want to check out UpNest. This website allows the homeowner to enter the specifications of the house for sale into their online form. The homeowner will then receive the contact information of three to five agents who work in the area.

Those agents will prepare a bid on how much they will charge for selling your house. You are not under any obligation to accept one proposal. UpNest allows any real estate agent to write a proposal, whether or not they are highly rated. The agents could work for a variety of large and small companies. The only thing you may know about the agent, is that they took the time to put in a bid for the job.

Let’s do a reality check to see how the numbers could work out if you go with a realtor through this website.

The average home in the U.S. sells for $226,800. To sell this average house in your typical town, you will pay $3,000 to a Clever Partner Agent. If you work through an UpNest realtor, they will have had to bid less than a 1.3227% commission rate to compete with Clever’s offer.

Even if the realtor makes such a low offer, is that agent top-rated in your area?

It’s also important to keep in mind that if you work with a traditional agent to sell your home, you will pay $6,804 to sell your average-priced home, and that’s just for the seller’s agent. Your buyer’s agent will receive another $6,804.

You have choices when picking out a real estate agent to help you sell or buy a home. Check out all the websites. Check out third-party reviews. We think you will be happy with the services our Clever Partner Agents will offer.


Jamie Ayers

Jamie is the Director of Content at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents and helps you save thousands on commission. In the past, Jamie has managed columns for clients in a variety of leading business publications, including Forbes, Inc., CEO World, Entrepreneur, and more. At Clever, Jamie's primary goal is to provide home sellers, buyers, and investors with the information they need to successfully navigate the ins and outs of the real estate industry.

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