Redfin vs Realtor

Home Selling

Redfin Agent vs Realtor — Which Offers Better Value?

February 20, 2019 | by Thomas O'Shaughnessy

At A Glance

Home sellers are faced with a tough choice: how should you use modern technology when selling your home? Is the real estate now totally online or do you still need a traditional agent? In this article, we’ll look at how Redfin stacks up.

Redfin vs Realtor

Updated August 13th, 2019

Redfin is a discount real estate brokerage that offers online tools and resources to home sellers and buyers, as well as discount real estate services via its team of in-house agents.

Traditional, full-service real estate agents typically charge a 3% listing fee when selling a home.

Redfin agents provide full service in exchange for a 1-1.5% listing fee. Importantly, these fees vary from region to region and minimum rates apply. Depending on the sale price of your home, your listing fee could end up being more than 2%.

What’s more, as of this writing, Redfin only services 78 markets across the U.S. See if you’re covered (and the minimum listing fees in your market) here.

If you’re not in one of the markets Redfin services — or you want a discount listing with a top agent from a major brand like Keller Williams, RE/MAX, or Coldwell Banker — Clever can help.

Clever partners with thousands of top-rated agents across the country who have agreed to provide full service in exchange for a flat fee of $3,000, or just 1% if your home sells for more than $350,000.

In addition to offering nationwide coverage, our fees don’t vary between markets — what you see is what you get. Our referral service is free and there’s no obligation to sign. Interview as many agents as you’d like until you find a great match.

> Get in touch to learn more and connect with top agents near you.

If you’d like to learn more about Redfin’s services and how they stack up to those of a traditional, full-service agent, read on — we’ve outlined everything you need to know.

Are Redfin Agents Realtors?

The answer to this question depends on whether there’s a capital “R” at the beginning of the word “realtor.” When someone says they’re a Realtor, it means they’re a member of the NAR, the National Association of Realtors. However, in common lingo, people refer to all real estate agents as realtors.

So, the answer is yes and no. Redfin employs some Realtors, and if you are using the word “realtor” in a general sense, then yes, Redfin Agents are realtors. However, know that not all Redfin’s agents are Realtors — try saying that five times fast!

Key Differences Between Redfin and Traditional Agents

Traditionally, real estate agents earn their living through commission fees: when they make a sale, they take some the proceeds (usually about 3%). This incentivizes the agent to sell your home as fast as they can and get you the best price for it — the faster you sell your house, the sooner they get their paycheck, and the higher your home’s closing price, the more money they make.

Redfin Agents, on the other hand, do not work for commission. Instead, their seller's agents are paid a base salary and receive bonuses if their clients are satisfied with their service. While theoretically this should improve client satisfaction and incentivize agents to be less pushy, it can also make them less motivated to sell — why give a sale your all if it doesn’t really affect your bottom line?

When it goes well, working with a traditional real estate agent is like forming a business partnership: you and your agent are in it together, you have each other's best interests in mind, and both of you want to profit off the home sale. That sense of camaraderie may be harder to find in Redfin agents.

What is Redfin’s Commission Fee?

Home sellers that work with Redfin agents need to pay 1-1.5% in commission, but that money doesn’t go to the agent — in fact, listing agents don’t make any commission at all. There are also minimums in each market, which can sometimes drive your commission up past that 1.5% figure. Redfin Agents are awarded bonuses based on both the closing price of the home and the customer satisfaction as expressed through a post-close survey.

Does Redfin Save Sellers Money?

The answer to this question depends on who you’re comparing it to. When compared to most real estate agents, the answer is yes: working with a Redfin agent will save you approximately 1.5% in commission.

However, if you’re comparing Redfin to a flat fee agent from Clever, the answer is less clear. Clever Agents will list your house for just $3,000 if it closes for under $350,000, and 1% if it’s over that threshold. For a $100,000 home, Redfin would cost you the minimum for that market, ranging from $3,000-$5,500. and Clever would cost $3,000. However, for a $500,000 home, Redfin would cost $7,500 and Clever would cost only $5,000. So, in San Francisco, where the median home value was over one million dollars in 2019 according to Zillow, you'd be saving quite a pretty penny.

It’s also important to think about how much profit you may gain or lose when deciding what agent to work with. Because Redfin agents don’t earn a commission, you could end up working with one who isn’t as motivated to sell your home, meaning you could lose out on some potential profits.

Is selling with Redfin a good idea?

There is no easy answer to this question. For some, selling with Redfin may be a fine idea. For others, particularly those who want to form a personal connection with a highly incentivized agent, other options may be better.

The decision will come down to personal taste: some home sellers may wish to carry out a real estate transaction with Redfin, and others may prefer to go the more traditional route. It is important to note, however, that even a quick google search for “redfin review” will turn up several stories detailing bad experiences, so it’s a good idea to be careful when considering working with a Redfin agent, lest you find yourself submitting another one-star review.

Alternatives to Redfin and Traditional Realtors

Luckily, home sellers today have more than two choices. If you want to get the best of both worlds, you may want to consider hiring a low commission Partner Agent from Clever. They’ll guide you through the complex home buying and home selling process, negotiate the purchase price, closing costs, and repairs with the buyer's agent, and ensure that you get top dollar for your home when you close on it — all for only $3,000 if your home closes for under $350,000.

Our business model is simple: most listing agents spend a lot of time and money marketing themselves and finding new clients. Clever helps them find new clients, so they don’t have to spend as much on advertising. Our Partner Agents then pass the savings on to you in the form of lower commission fees.

Clever Partner Agents are full-service agents with one goal in mind: to get you the best possible deal on your home. If you’d like to learn more about how our Partner Agents can help you sell your home for top-dollar, fill out our form schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We hope to hear from you soon!

Top FAQs for People Considering Redfin vs a Traditional Realtor

1. Are Redfin agents licensed?

Yes. All Redfin agents are licensed real estate agents, brokers, or realtors. They provide the same services as a traditional real estate agent, but instead of earning a commission, they’re paid a salary and bonuses. Redfin hopes that by doing away with the commission fee, their agents will focus more on customer service and less on sheer sales volume.

2. Can you list FSBO on Redfin?

No. You cannot sell your home FSBO on Redfin. All homes sold on Redfin are listed with one of their agents. Redfin is not a flat fee MLS listing service. However, home buyers working with a Redfin agent may be able to purchase FSBO homes.

3. Does Redfin have all MLS listings?

Yes. Redfin is a brokerage, so it has access to the MLS (multiple listing service). Redfin functions much like a traditional brokerage but without conventional commission fees. Instead, their agents are paid a salary and bonuses based on their customer reviews. This is meant to ensure high-quality customer service.

4. How do I find a Redfin agent?

You can find a Redfin agent by going to redfin.com and inputting your zip code or city in the search bar. Once your search is completed, click “Real Estate Agents” in the top right corner. You will be presented with a list of buyer’s and seller’s agents and their customer rating. After selecting an agent, you can view their recent deals and contact them.

5. Why are Zillow and Redfin estimates different?

Zillow and Redfin use different algorithms to evaluate the available data in distinct ways, leading to differing results. Exactly what goes into each of their proprietary algorithms is a well-kept industry secret, so no one knows how they’re different. What is known, however, is that both services compare your home to similar listings to come up with a price, much like an agent performing a comparative market analysis. The way that each of these services weight the different variables is likely the reason for the variance.

6. Are Redfin estimates accurate?

Redfin claims that its median national error rate is 1.77% for homes currently on the market. For off-market homes, this jumps up to 6.66%. This means that you can get a reasonable estimate for homes on the market. However, Redfin estimates are not as accurate as a professional appraisal or comparative market analysis.

7. Which real estate site is the most accurate?

According to the Washington Post, Redfin has the most accurate market values for listed homes, but Zillow's Zestimate is more accurate for off-market homes. This may change soon: Zillow recently wrapped up a competition that awarded $1 million to any person or team that could improve their estimation algorithm. Following the competition, Zillow announced that their margin of error will drop below 4%, putting them ahead of Redfin as far as home valuation accuracy is concerned.

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