Your Guide to Redfin Agents vs. Realtors

By 

Jamie Ayers

Updated 

March 10th, 2021

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Redfin agents vs. realtors | Pricing | Services | Agent quality | Agent incentives | Redfin alternatives

Redfin isn't just a popular home search website and app. It’s also the largest discount brokerage in the U.S, with agents operating in approximately 80+ markets across the country.

⚡ Redfin agents vs. realtors 

Redfin Agents offer many of the same services as traditional realtors for about 20-30% less overall — BUT there are some tradeoffs and risks to consider.

In particular, Redfin Agents handle roughly 3x more clients than the average realtor, which can limit their ability to provide hands-on support throughout the sale.

Redfin is a well-established brand with many happy customers. But some have reported uneven service quality and other issues related to overextended Redfin Agents and being juggled by a team.

Selling a home is a complex, high-stakes process. Be sure you understand the risks and tradeoffs of discount brokers like Redfin before you sign. Read on to learn more about the differences between Redfin Agents vs. realtors.

» LEARN: Save on realtor commission fees without sacrificing service

Key differences between Redfin Agents and realtors

🔎 There are a few key differences between Redfin Agents vs. traditional agents:

  • Redfin agents earn a salary, as opposed to a percentage-based commission for each sale
  • Redfin agents don’t handle every aspect of your sale — they collaborate with a larger team of specialists like marketers and transaction coordinators

In other words, while the services may look the same on paper, the experience of selling with a Redfin Agent vs. a traditional realtor will be quite different. Here’s why.

Redfin Agents are cheaper than traditional realtors

When you sell with a Redfin Agent, you can expect to save between 20-30% in realtor commission fees.

The average commission rate nationwide is approximately 5.45%. This total fee is typically split down the middle between the two agents handling the sale:

  • Listing fee: paid to the listing agent for helping the seller list and sell the home
  • Buyer’s agent fee: paid to the buyer’s agent for bringing their client to purchase the home

Discount brokers like Redfin offer savings on the listing fee side of that equation — i.e., Redfin charges sellers 1.5% compared to the typical 2.5-4% listing fee.

Note: You’ll still likely have to cover the buyer’s agent commission

Importantly, Redfin still encourages sellers to offer a competitive buyer’s agent fee to incentivize buyer’s agents to show the home and attract more offers faster.

Buyer’s agent commission rates are negotiable and vary by market and home, but 2.5-3% is typical nationwide.

Here’s how the total commission fee could break down when you sell with Redfin.

Service
Fee*
Sell with Redfin
1.5%
Buyer’s agent commission
2.5-3%
Total
4-4.5%
*Minimum fees apply and vary by market. Source: Redfin

So what does that look like in terms of real dollar savings?

If you were selling a $350,000 home, selling with Redfin could save you upwards of $4,200 compared to listing with a traditional realtor, based on the current national average commission rate.


Redfin
Realtors
Listing fee
$5,250 (1.5%)
$7,101 (2.7%)
Buyer’s agent fee
$9,450 (2.7%)
$7,101 (2.7%)
Total
$14,700
$18,900

» MORE: How much does Redfin cost?

🚨 Watch out for Redfin’s minimum fees!

While Redfin advertises a 1.5% listing commission, they also have minimum commissions in many markets.

For example, if you consult this chart, you’ll see that Redfin has a minimum commission of $6,500 in San Francisco and $5,000 in Boston.

You won’t necessarily get the 1.5% commission if you work with Redfin agents in these markets — you’ll pay the flat minimums. And, for homes below a certain price point, those minimums can be much more than 1.5%. Put simply, always read the fine print and do the math before you sign.

Same general services — less dedicated support

Redfin Agents offers many of the same general services as traditional realtors, including help with pricing, marketing, showings, offers, paperwork, closing coordination, and so on.

Redfin Agents manage and render these services differently, though. This can have a major (and potentially negative!) impact on your overall experience, especially for inexperienced home buyers and sellers.

Consider these differences.

Redfin Agents handle 3X more transactions than the average realtor

Redfin agents are busier, so they may not have time for all of your questions, pass them off to another team member, or take longer to return your call or text.

This may not be an issue for confident sellers, but sellers who need reassurance and communication — and there’s nothing wrong with that — may not enjoy working with a high-volume agent.

Redfin uses a team-based model instead of a one-on-one model

In a conventional sale, you can go to your agent for everything. This builds trust and rapport, and there’s direct accountability.

At Redfin, you’ll work with a team of specialists. Have issues with the way your home is marketed? You’ll have to take it up with your marketing specialist. If you have issues with your open house schedule, you’ll have to talk to yet another person, and so on.

This model can be more efficient, but it can also be confusing and frustrating if it’s not handled well.

Redfin handles much of the process remotely, via its website and app

A lot of the selling or buying process will happen through Redfin’s mobile app and online dashboard.

Redfin’s tech-centric approach may be great for some who prefer to communicate and coordinate this way, but for others — particularly the less tech-savvy among us — it could be frustrating or confusing.

Selling or buying a home can be complicated and stressful. Sometimes it’s preferable to get answers in real-time, either in person or over the phone.

Hire the individual agent, not the brand!

Every real estate brokerage, from Keller Williams to Coldwell Banker, is going to have a mix of great agents and not-so-great ones. Redfin is no exception.

Redfin is transparent about this fact. Their “agent finder” tool gives you information about each individual Redfin agent, including customer reviews and a map of their past deals.

With this tool, you can tell at a glance if you’re looking at a five-star elite performer or a lightly motivated novice.

Of course, some of Redfin’s more novice Agents are future top producers. Like any search tool that relies on past performance, the Redfin agent finder tool probably overvalues certain quantifiable data (like past sales and customer ratings) and undervalues intangibles like a personal connection.

This is a big deal because personal connection and shared priorities are the bedrock of a smooth, satisfying real estate experience.

✍️ What’s a Redfin Partner Agent?

Redfin's agent finder tool will also display “Redfin Partner Agents.” These are agents from other brokerages who pay Redfin a referral fee to show up in their searches.

Importantly, these agents AREN'T bound by Redfin’s terms and pricing. Double-check your agent choices, and make sure you interview a range of agents to make sure you find a good fit.

When comparing Redfin agents vs. realtors, your first goal should be to find an agent that's the right fit for you.

Interview multiple agents to understand their approach to helping you meet your needs — whether that's the fastest possible sale, top price, service quality, or some other term or priority.

Try Clever's free agent-matching service!

List with the best agents in your area for just $3,000 or 1%.

  • Sell with a top local agent from a major brokerage

  • Get full service and support for a pre-negotiated low rate

  • No upfront fees — only pay when your home sells

  • Zero obligation to sign with any of our recommendations

Redfin Agents may have less direct incentive than traditional realtors

Just how motivated are Redfin agents vs. realtors? The answer may come down to their different incentive structures.

Conventional real estate agents are paid a percentage-based commission after the sale goes through. The higher the final sale price is, the more money they stand to make. Your motivations as a seller — a higher price— are perfectly aligned with your agent’s.

💰 How Redfin Agents get paid

Redfin agents work for a salary, with occasional performance bonuses. No matter how much your home sells for (or even if it doesn’t sell at all!), your Redfin agent is going to make the same paycheck.

This isn’t to say that Redfin agents don’t do their best to sell your home. Redfin offers their agents competitive salaries. Based on reviews, most Redfin agents take their responsibilities very seriously.

But, the incentive disconnect is worth thinking about. There are simply fewer direct incentives for Redfin agents, which could contribute to a lower sale price or slower closing date for you.

Is selling with Redfin a good idea?

The bottom line is this:

Redfin does offer some real savings, usually around 20-30% compared to a conventional real estate transaction.

Those savings can come with some risks compared to the experience you'll have with a conventional real estate agent.

Whether Redfin is a good idea for you will come down to your unique needs.

👍 Redfin is best for sellers

  • Who don’t need a lot of personalized attention
  • Are comfortable with technology
  • Who prioritize lower commission above all else
    With high-value homes

👎 Redfin may be a poor fit for sellers: 

  • Who value one-on-one service and support from their agent
  • Who are selling less expensive homes 
  • Who aren’t comfortable with technology

Alternatives to Redfin and traditional realtors

After comparing Redfin agents vs. realtors, you're likely wondering if there's a middle ground.

Stellar service at a lower commission rate? A la carte options for advanced home sellers? We've got you covered with these Redfin agent alternatives.

Work with an agent-matching service

If you’re looking to save on commission but want to avoid customer-service tradeoffs, consider working with an agent-matching service that negotiates low rates with traditional realtors on your behalf, like Clever Real Estate.

The best agent-matching services:

  • Are 100% free to use and come with no obligation
  • Only work with top local agents from major brands and regional brokerages
  • Negotiate significant discounts without any reduction in service and support
  • Offer ongoing support throughout your sale to ensure you get top service

Note: not all agent-matching services offer built-in savings (HomeLight and UpNest, to name a few). Make sure to do your homework and work with the service that offers the most built-in benefits to get the best value and experience.

Try Clever’s free agent-matching service!

Interview top agents, find the perfect fit, save thousands.

Compare Redfin with other discount brokers

Redfin is just one of an ever-increasing number of discount brokers out there.

There are a number of national, regional, and local brands to choose from, each offering a wide variety of price points, service models, and pros and cons.

Generally speaking, most will come with some sort of variation on the same basic catch:

You can save big on commission fees, but you’ll likely trade off something (or assume some sort of risk) in return — usually customer service.

We recommend shopping around and comparing Redfin against 1-2 discount brands — along with 1-2 traditional agents — to get the best possible value and fit for your needs.

» MORE: The ultimate guide to discount brokers

Sell for sale by owner (FSBO)

🏆 Benefits of selling FSBO:

  • FSBO sellers pay no listing commission
  • The entire sale process is under the seller’s control
  • Using a flat-fee MLS service makes your listing just as visible as agented listings (but the service/support ends there)
⚠️ Risks of selling FSBO:

  • FSBO sellers still have to offer a 3% buyer’s agent commission to bring in potential buyers
  • Overseeing a sale from start to finish can be challenging for a non-professional
  • Data shows that FSBO sales have lower average sale prices than agented listings*

“For sale by owner” is exactly what it sounds like:

A sale conducted entirely by the owner of the property, with no help from a listing agent.

Since the main challenge is visibility with buyers, many FSBO sellers use a flat-fee MLS listing service. These services charge a flat fee to get your listing onto the local MLS, but don’t typically offer any additional services.

👍 FSBO could make sense if you:

  • Have a red-hot property in a red-hot market
  • Aren’t on any sort of timeline (FSBO properties tend to sell slow)
  • Have professional experience that can help you sell a home
  • Place a very high value on independence and autonomy
  • You’re fine with not getting the highest possible price

» MORE: How to sell your house for sale by owner

Sell to a “We Buy Houses for Cash” company

🏆 Benefits of selling to a cash buyer:

  • Will buy homes even if they’re in very poor condition — sometimes they even buy vacant lots
  • Sellers can get a cash offer within days — sometimes hours
  • Sellers often have more flexibility to choose move-out and closing dates
⚠️ Risks of selling to a cash buyer:

  • Offers are usually far below market value — often by as much as 50% or more
  • Subsequent in-person inspections could result in offer deductions from repair costs
  • Very aggressive follow-ups, sometimes for years, even after sellers declined

We Buy Houses for Cash companies are known for buying almost any house, regardless of location or condition, for (obviously) cash.

👍 Good for sellers who: 

  • Aren’t concerned about getting the highest price
  • Need to sell ASAP
  • Inherited a property they don’t have any interest in keeping
  • Don’t have the capital or motivation to perform pre-sale repairs

👎 Bad for sellers who: 

  • Want a fair price
  • Have homes that could sell conventionally as-is
  • Aren’t under any pressure to offload the property

» READ: The truth about companies that buy houses for cash

Sell to an iBuyer

🏆 Benefits of selling to an iBuyer:

  • Can extend cash offers within days or even hours of contact
  • Tend to be much closer to fair market value than other types of cash buyers
  • Many offer novel arrangements like home trade-ins
⚠️ Risks of selling to an iBuyer:

  • Because they pay fair prices, they rely on service fees to make money
  • Sellers can almost always make more money with a conventional sale
  • iBuyers are quite selective and prefer newer homes in good condition

iBuyers are large technology companies that make fast-cash offers for homes, often sight unseen. Note that many of these companies have limited geographic ranges, so they may not be available in your area.

👍 An iBuyer could be a good option if you:

  • Have a home that fits an iBuyer’s typically strict purchasing criteria
  • Value convenience and/or speed over getting the highest possible price
  • Want to avoid the stress and uncertainty of listing on the open market
  • Need maximum flexibility and control over your closing timeline

» LEARN: Everything you need to know about iBuyers

Top FAQs about Redfin agents vs. realtors

Are Redfin Agents licensed?

Absolutely! Redfin Agents are fully licensed agents, realtors, and brokers.

Can you list FSBO on Redfin?

Redfin’s home search portal pulls listings directly from the local MLSs across the country. If you’re listing FSBO but pay a flat-fee MLS company to post your listing on your local MLS, it should appear on Redfin.com.

Does Redfin have all MLS listings?

Yes. Redfin is a fully licensed real estate brokerage with access to the MLSs in the markets it operates in. All MLS listings should appear on the Redfin website and app.

How do I find a Redfin agent?

Visit redfin.com, add your city or zip code into the search bar, and then search. Clicking on “Real Estate Agents” in the top right corner will bring up a list of agents in your area. You can then view individual agents’ customer ratings and deal history.

Does Redfin have hidden fees?

Redfin is pretty upfront and transparent about its fees, though it does have minimum commissions in some markets. These can sometimes exceed its quoted 1.5% commission rate for homes under a certain price point.

Can I ask my realtor to take a lower commission?

Yes! Everything in a real estate transaction is negotiable — including real estate commission.

It can be challenging to convince a professional negotiator to do their job for less money, though. Your success will depend on how much leverage you have, your negotiation skills, and local market dynamics.

» MORE: How to negotiate realtor commission