✍️ Editor's take: Ideal Agent can match you with a good agent and get you a discounted rate, but some alternatives offer the same agent quality and bigger savings.
Ideal Agent is a free online service that can connect you with a local real estate agent — what’s commonly known as an “agent matching service” — if you’re looking to buy or sell a house.
Ideal Agent offers two key benefits:
- Agent quality: Ideal Agent claims to only work with the “top 1%” of agents in terms of sales volume in their local market.
- Savings: Ideal Agent pre-negotiates 2% listing fees, vs. the typical 2.5-3% rate.
However, Ideal Agent has some major drawbacks:
- Limited choice: Ideal Agent has a small network of agents and only makes one agent match per client. Most agent matching services make multiple matches, so you can compare your options.
- Limited savings: Some of Ideal Agent’s competitors offer the same free service and high-quality agents, but pre-negotiate bigger realtor fee discounts.
If you’re looking to find a great agent and get more built-in value, Clever offers the same no-cost agent matching service — but also pre-negotiates lower rates than Ideal Agent. Clever sellers pay a $3,000 listing fee (or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000). In other words, you get the exact same service and quality for literally half the price — or less.
Also, Clever offers eligible buyers 0.5% of their new home’s purchase price in cash back after closing. Ideal Agent offers no savings for buyers.
Clever and its mystery shoppers spent nearly 1,500 hours researching real estate agent matching services to deliver the best reviews in the industry. Our reviews are continuously updated to ensure you have the latest information to inform your decisions.
Read on to learn how Ideal Agent stacks up against the competition — or skip ahead to read Ideal Agent reviews.
Should you use Ideal Agent to find a realtor?
👍 What we like about Ideal Agent:
👎 Where Ideal Agent misses the mark:
Our Team found Ideal Agent to be a mixed bag: On the one hand, the company can match you with a high-quality real estate agent. On the other, it offers less choice and built-in benefits than some of its competitors.
Ideal Agent’s claim that it only works with the top 1% of agents in terms of sales volume seems legit. Knowing that any agent you’re matched with is a top producer is a good start, but keep in mind that sheer sales volume isn’t everything — and certainly doesn’t guarantee the agent will be a good fit for you.
Ideal Agent also pre-negotiates 2% listing fees with the agents in its network, compared to the 2.5-3% rate you’d likely pay if you found the agent on your own (or through a non-savings agent matching service, like HomeLight). If you like the agent Ideal Agent recommends, the pre-negotiated savings are a win.
That being said, Ideal Agent has some major drawbacks:
- The discounted rates are lackluster. By comparison, Clever offers the same service and quality for half the price.
- Its small agent network means you may have trouble getting matched with an agent who works near you if you live in a smaller town or rural area.
- You only get one agent match, which limits your ability to compare options (most agent matching services make multiple matches).
- The company’s website and digital experience lags behind its competitors.
Bottom Line: Is Ideal Agent worth it?
Ideal Agent is worth a try: It’s free and you’re under no obligation to go with any agent it recommends.
Idea Agent sources quality agents, its customer service is good, and you could save a bit of money on realtor fees.
However, if you’re looking to net the best combination of quality, choice, and savings, check out services like Clever and UpNest instead.
If you do want to give Ideal Agent a try, we recommend doing so in conjunction with at least one other agent matching service so you can compare options to get the best fit and value. Ideal Agent only matches you with one agent and, ideally, you should interview 2-3 agents before making a final decision.
What is Ideal Agent?
Ideal Agent is a free, online service that can match you with a local real estate agent. Ideal Agent claims it only works with agents who are the “top 1%” producers, in terms of sales volume, in their respective markets.
Ideal Agent primarily serves home sellers and advertises pre-negotiated 2% listing fees to attract new business.
While you can also use Ideal Agent if you’re looking to buy a home, the company doesn’t offer any built-in benefits or savings for buyers. There’s not even a way for buyers to sign up for the service directly on the website — instead, buyers have to phone the company.
Like all agent matching services, Ideal Agent is free to use and there’s no obligation to work with any agent the company matches you with.
But unlike most agent matching services, Ideal Agent only matches you with one agent, limiting your ability to compare different options.
⛔ Hire the agent, not the brand!
Don't just sign on the dotted line with any agent Ideal Agent matches you with. While the one agent you get matched with may have lots of experience, that doesn't mean they'll be a good fit for you. Your situation, needs, and preferences are unique, which is why you should interview multiple agents before making a decision.
Is Ideal Agent legit?
Yes, Ideal Agent is a legitimate business with a nationwide network of top-performing full-service real estate agents. The company holds an active brokerage license in Florida. All agent matching services must be licensed to operate legally.
Ideal Agent, at a Glance
4.9 (2,717 reviews)
N/A - Not accredited
Agent network size
Ideal Agent’s agent network is much smaller than most of its competitors, with just 450 agents. However, Ideal Agent’s vetting process for agents is strict, so its network size doesn't make Ideal Agent any less legitimate than its competitors.
But if you’re trying to buy or sell a home in a smaller market or rural area, Ideal Agent’s small network may be an issue. With fewer agents available, you may have trouble getting matched with an agent through Ideal Agent.
⚠️ Misleading claims about savings
Ideal Agent makes some misleading claims about how much you can save with its service. It suggests on its homepage, for example, that you could save up to $20,000 on the sale of a $500,000 home when the buyer doesn’t have an agent.
Ideal Agent fails to mention that roughly 90% of buyers work with agents, so it’s unlikely you’ll be selling to one who doesn’t have an agent. Your savings will likely be closer to $7,500 rather than $20,000 on a $500,000 home.
Ideal Agent’s concierge also claimed that the national average agent commission is close to 7% compared to Ideal Agent’s 4.5-5%. In reality, the national average is around 5.5%— higher than Ideal Agent’s rate, but not by as much as Ideal Agent claims.
How does Ideal Agent work?
- Sign up by filling out a form on Ideal Agent's website, where you provide some details about your sale like property type, estimated value, and timeline.
- You’ll receive a phone call from an Ideal Agent concierge, who will match you with an agent and discuss that agent’s experience in your area.
- Ideal Agent will send your contact information to your matched agent, who will call or email to discuss your real estate needs.
- You can choose to go with this agent or you’re free to walk away.
- If you sign with the agent, your Ideal Agent concierge will check in via phone to see how the process is going.
There are some unusual things to note about how Ideal Agent works:
- House buyers: If you want to buy a house with an Ideal Agent partner agent, you’ll have to call the company, as only sellers can sign up online.
- Getting an agent match: Ideal Agent won’t match you with an agent until you speak to its concierge over the phone. Most agent matching services, in contrast, will make a match via text message, email, or via an online dashboard.
- Additional matches: If you’re not satisfied with the agent Ideal Agent matches you with, you can request an additional match. However, there's no guarantee you'll get one due to Ideal Agent’s limited number of partner agents.
How much does Ideal Agent cost?
Like all agent matching services, Ideal Agent is free to try and you are under no obligation to go with any agent it recommends. However, you will have to pay your agent a commission, just as you would if you found one on your own.
For sellers, agent commission typically consists of two parts: the listing fee, which goes to the seller’s agent, and the buyer’s agent commission. Both are typically around 2.5-3% of the sale price of the house, so the seller pays a total commission of 5-6%.
💵 Why isn't the buyer's agent commission discounted?
Ideal Agent sets its buyer's agent commission at 2.5%, which is usually about what you'd pay if you went with an agent you found on your own. However, there's a good reason Ideal Agent doesn't discount its buyer's agent commission.
The buyer's agent gets paid through the buyer's agent commission. If your buyer's agent commission is lower than average, you disincentivize buyers' agents from showing your property. That could lead to fewer offers and a harder time finding a buyer.
In fact, if you live in a market where the average buyer's agent commission is higher than 2.5%, Ideal Agent's fixed 2.5% rate could put you at a competitive disadvantage. That lower rate could discourage agents from showing your house to potential buyers.
Ideal Agent pre-negotiates a discounted listing fee with your seller’s agent of 2% or $3,000 for homes under $150,000. You will still have to pay the full buyer’s agent commission, which Ideal Agent sets at 2.5%.
So, if you were to sell a house for $400,000, here's how much you would pay in commission with Ideal Agent vs. with a traditional agent:
Buyer’s agent commission
*Based on a 2.5% commission rate
In this scenario you could save $2,000 on commission with Ideal Agent compared to working with a traditional agent. Not too bad, right?
While those savings are good, other agent matching services offer the same service as Ideal Agent, but with much bigger discounts. With Clever, for example, the savings are twice as high and you still get a pre-vetted top local agent.
How does Ideal Agent make money?
When an agent closes a deal for a customer Ideal Agent referred to them, Ideal Agent takes a percentage of their commission on the sale — what’s commonly known as a referral fee.
All agent matching services make money via referral fees; it's how they're able to provide their services to consumers for free.
The company recently announced a partnership with Incenter to offer branded mortgage and title services. This will likely create an additional stream of revenue for Ideal Agent.
Why do agents work with companies like Ideal Agent?
Agents can close more deals by working with an agent matching service like Ideal Agent. Typically, agents spend lots of time and money on marketing to bring in new clients.
Ideal Agent finds clients for agents, which means agents save time and money that would otherwise go to marketing.
While agents make less on each individual client by working with Ideal Agent, they can increase their total number of clients, allowing them to close more deals in the long run. That’s why they’re willing to pay Ideal Agent a fee while also passing along some of their savings to you.
Ideal Agent pros and cons
👍 Ideal Agent matches you with a high-quality agent
Ideal Agent claims that it works only with the top-performing agents in their local markets. We generally found this to be true, with our agent matches having plenty of experience and closings.
If you don’t want to deal with comparing multiple options, Ideal Agent is worth a look. While letting someone else choose your agent for you poses major risks — we definitely don’t recommend it — if you want to go this route, Ideal Agent’s agents are solid, so there’s a good chance your match will have experience in your area and know how to get your house sold.
👍 Built-in savings help you save a little (but not much)
Ideal Agent pre-negotiates discounts with its agents, so you pay a listing fee of 2% or $3,000 of homes under $150,000. The nationwide average is 2.5-3%.
You'll still have to pay the buyer’s agent commission on top of this, which is usually around 2.5-3%. So, the overall commission with Ideal Agent will be 4.5-5% versus the industry average of 5-6%.
In a major purchase like a real estate transaction, even that seemingly small reduction could potentially save you thousands of dollars.
That said, don't make your decision about an agent solely on fees. After all, an agent who charges a lower commission but sells your house for a lot less than another agent could cost you more in the long run.
Always compare multiple agents and don’t just sign with whoever Ideal Agent recommends.
Plus, Ideal Agent’s savings are decent, but they lag some of its competitors. Clever, for example, pre-negotiates a listing fee of just 1% or $3,000 for homes under $350,000, while still working with top local realtors.
Here’s how much you could save with Clever compared with Ideal Agent and a traditional, full-price agent on the sale of a $400,000 home.
*Assuming 5% total commission
You could save twice as much with Clever versus Ideal Agent, while still getting a top full-service agent in your area. In other words, with Clever you get the best of all worlds: a high-quality agent, more choices, and much bigger savings.
👍 Ideal Agent concierges are highly knowledgeable
We found Ideal Agent’s concierge service helpful and friendly. Each concierge we spoke to was a licensed real estate agent, which means they can provide real estate advice and answer questions about the buying or selling process in detail.
Some other agent matching services don’t require their concierges to be licensed, which limits the type of advice they can provide to consumers.
When we spoke to Ideal Agent’s concierges, they explained the agent matching process to us clearly and walked us through why they thought our matched agent was a good fit. They answered all of our questions and we came away better understanding the service.
We also liked that we got assigned just one concierge for the entire process. That concierge developed a strong understanding of our needs.
With some other agent matching services, you may communicate with multiple concierges, which can lead to miscommunication or confusion.
Note, however, that Ideal Agent isn't the only agent matching service to have a licensed concierge service. If getting expert service is important to you, other companies, such as Clever, also offer licensed concierges.
👎 Small agent network means some poor matches
Ideal Agent has one of the smallest agent networks of any agent matching service, with just 450 agents. Most other services have thousands if not tens of thousands of agents nationwide.
As a result, Ideal Agent's network is stretched thin over the entire country, creating serious drawbacks for consumers.
For example, Ideal Agent sometimes didn’t have an agent available with local market experience. Instead, we were matched with an agent in a nearby city who had very few sales in our city.
If you are trying to sell in a big city, you probably won’t encounter too many problems getting matched with a top agent. But if you live in a smaller city or in a rural area, the chances of getting a good match are going to shrink.
👎 You only get matched with one agent
Ideal Agent only matches you with one agent, which is another drawback. Other agent matching services usually suggest at least a couple agents to choose from.
It’s important to interview multiple agents to make sure you’re getting the right one for you. Ideal Agent’s suggestion may have a great sales record, for example, but they could have limited experience with your neighborhood or property type.
If you just want Ideal Agent to make the match and you don’t want to spend time evaluating multiple agents, then its system may work for you. But we prefer having a bit of choice over an agent.
Every time we asked Ideal Agent’s concierge for an additional match, we were told no. This may reflect a limitation of Ideal Agent’s small network size. They simply may not have enough agents in some markets to suggest more than one match.
Remember: Ideal Agent will only match you with one agent, but you’re under no obligation to choose that agent. You can interview them and, if they’re not a good fit, you’re free to walk away.
👎 Communication is mostly over the phone
Ideal Agent’s website and digital experience is lacking. Communication takes place mostly through phone and email, and to get your agent match you'll have to talk to an Ideal Agent concierge on the phone.
If you prefer communicating online, then this phone-first approach may be off-putting. Plus, it means you’ll only be able to get your agent matches during Ideal Agent’s operating hours, which are:
8 a.m.-10 p.m.
9 a.m.-8 p.m.
10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Unlike most other agent matching services, Ideal Agent offers no online customer dashboard where you can view your agent match and keep track of your home sale or purchase.
Granted, since you’re only getting one agent match with Ideal Agent, a centralized customer dashboard has limited benefits. But it would be nice to keep all of your communications in one place, rather than trying to stay on top of different texts, emails, and phone calls.
👎 Limited support or value for home buyers
Ideal Agent’s online form to get matched has no option for buyers. The company focuses heavily on helping sellers, with buyers treated as an afterthought.
We confirmed with an Ideal Agent concierge that the company will match buyers with agents, but only if you call Ideal Agent. Most other agent matching services make it easy for buyers to connect with an agent, by filling out an online form.
Ideal Agent also doesn’t offer buyers any discounts. While very few agent matching services offer buyer discounts, you should be aware of those that do.
Clever, for example, offers eligible buyers 0.5% cash back on the purchase price of a home after closing. To put that in perspective, on a $400,000 purchase, you’d get $2,000 back in cash just for using a Clever partner agent to buy your home.
Ideal Agent reviews from real customers
Ideal Agent reviews online are generally very positive, with a 4.9 average customer rating based on 2,717 total reviews.
We looked through hundreds of Ideal Agent reviews to discover what real customers were saying. While the vast majority of reviews were positive, take them with a grain of salt.
We noticed most were written by consumers who were “invited” by Ideal Agent to leave a review. Chances are, Ideal Agent invites consumers who were happy with its service, rather than those who weren’t.
Plus, on the few occasions someone left a negative review, Ideal Agent responded in an aggressive manner, even belittling the reviewer, as they did here:
This is not how you should respond to negative feedback. It's overly defensive, unprofessional, and fails to address the consumers’ concerns. Even worse, it may discourage other people who had similar negative experiences from sharing them online.
What customers like about Ideal Agent
Despite those reservations, it’s worth noting that Ideal Agent has very good reviews overall. The quality of its agents and Ideal Agent’s helpful concierge service were two aspects consumers mentioned repeatedly in reviews.
‘Very knowledgeable and skilled’
Reviewers brought up the high quality of the agents again and again.
The following customer’s feedback is typical, with agents often receiving high marks for their industry knowledge and ability to help sell homes quickly.
This likely reflects Ideal Agent’s excellent vetting process for agents, who need to be in the top 1% of sales volume locally or nationally and meet other performance criteria.
‘Saved money on agent commission’
Customers also often liked how much they got for their homes on top of Ideal Agent’s discounted fee.
This customer was especially happy that her home sold over its asking price and that she saved extra money through her agent’s lower commission rate.
Again, this is likely a reflection of agent quality. Good agents are often better at negotiating a higher sales price.
That said, it’s possible to get a skilled negotiator for an agent while saving even more on commission. Talk with Clever today and we can show you how our agents can get you top dollar for your house for half the price.
‘Great help and advice’
Customers were also usually happy with Ideal Agent’s concierge service. All of Ideal Agent’s concierges are licensed real estate agents, so they’re usually very good at providing expert advice to consumers.
This customer, for example, liked how the concierge took the time to find out what he needed in a real estate agent before making a match.
‘Answered questions clearly’
This customer had a similar experience. They found the concierge to be especially helpful in explaining the process and communicating after an agent match was made.
While a handful of other agent matching services, including Clever, also have licensed concierges, most don’t. So kudos to Ideal Agent for adding this extra level of customer service.
Ideal Agent complaints from customers
Negative Ideal Agent reviews are hard to come by, but we did find a few. This is to be expected since no agent network is perfect and quality always varies.
Most reviewers complained that agents failed to meet expectations or Ideal Agent didn't have a local agent available.
This customer, for example, felt like her agent failed to provide the level of service one would expect from a full-service agent.
To avoid situations like this, interview multiple agents beforehand. You’re under no obligation to go with the agent Ideal Agent recommends and you’re always free to walk away.
‘No local participants’
This customer, on the other hand, thought their agent was good, but that they were located too far away.
We suspect Ideal Agent’s small network size causes this problem. With just 450 agents, Ideal Agent simply doesn’t have much availability in some areas, especially outside of major cities.
Top Ideal Agent alternatives
1. Clever Real Estate
💲 Listing Fee
$3k or 1%
💰 Buyer Savings
Up to 0.5% cash back
⚡ Avg. Customer Rating
Clever is a quick, easy, and free way to find a top-rated local agent. And, unlike many similar companies, Clever pre-negotiates big discounts on your behalf, so you can save thousands without sacrificing on service.
- Free, nationwide agent-matching service that partners with full-service local agents from conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, Century 21, and RE/MAX
- Provides multiple agent matches so you can interview, compare marketing plans, and choose the best fit
- Pre-negotiates low rates on your behalf — you get full service for a flat $3,000 listing fee, or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000
- If you buy with Clever, you could get a check worth up to 0.5% of the home price
- You may not get matched with an agent from your preferred real estate brokerage.
- Like other agent matching services, Clever may have fewer agents in rural areas.
- Agents may not provide premium services like drone photography and professional home staging.
Clever offers built-in savings just like Ideal Agent and connects you with a top local agent who has been pre-vetted. But while Ideal Agent only has a network of 450 agents, Clever has 7,000 agents.
A bigger network means you have a much better chance of getting matched with a local agent. Ideal Agent often struggles to find local agents outside of major cities.
Plus, Clever’s built-in savings are far better than Ideal Agent’s. Clever pre-negotiates a listing fee of just 1% (for homes over $350,000) with its agents compared to Ideal Agent’s 2%.
In other words, you could save twice as much with Clever as you could with Ideal Agent, without sacrificing agent quality.
And for eligible buyers, Clever offers a cash rebate of 0.5% — something Ideal Agent doesn’t offer at all.
💲 Listing Fee
💰 Buyer Savings
⚡ Avg. Customer Rating
UpNest has agents compete for your business, which often results in you getting a discounted rate. But savings aren't guaranteed and you will usually find a better rate with competitors like Clever.
- Agents compete for customers, which often results in slightly discounted rates
- Customer dashboard is easy to use and provides lots of each information about each agent
- Savings are not guaranteed and are often only a little better than the national average
- Agent quality and coverage varies, with smaller markets having fewer options than big cities
As of November 11, 2021, UpNest has an average customer rating of 4.6, based on 3,794 reviews across Better Business Bureau, Google, Facebook, and Shopper Approved.
UpNest is another agent matching service, but with a more automated process than Ideal Agent’s.
UpNest's customer dashboard is among the best in the industry and provides lots of information about your agent matches. Ideal Agent, on the other hand, has no online dashboard and most communication takes place via phone and email.
While UpNest doesn’t guarantee discounts like Ideal Agent does, it does have agents bid for your business. So, agents on UpNest often work for a discounted rate, and it’s common to find agents there who will match or come close to Ideal Agent’s 2% listing fee.
💲 Listing Fee
Standard rate (2.5-3%)
💰 Buyer Savings
⚡ Avg. Customer Rating
HomeLight is an excellent tool for finding a great local agent quickly. However, it offers zero built-in commission savings for sellers or buyers.
- Get a list of local real estate agents in as little as two minutes
- One of the largest agent networks in the industry makes it less challenging to find an agent who specializes in short sales and other non-traditional sales
- Optional Trade-In program makes it easier to buy a new house if you need to sell your current one first
- No built-in savings for home sellers or buyers
- No minimum qualifications for partner agents, so quality may vary between locations
As of November 11, 2021, HomeLight has an average customer rating of 4.7 across 1,012 reviews on Google, Sitejabber, and the Better Business Bureau.
HomeLight offers the largest network of any agent matching service in the U.S. With 28,000 agents, it is exponentially bigger than Ideal Agent’s meager 450-agent network.
That means HomeLight, unlike Ideal Agent, can usually offer multiple agent matches no matter where you live.
Its highly automated system matches customers with agents instantly and it has an easy-to-use online dashboard.
However, HomeLight doesn’t offer any savings. You’ll pay the same full commission rates for your real estate agent as you would if you found one on your own.
So, you'll potentially spend thousands of dollars more for the same agent through HomeLight as you would have through other services, like Clever and Ideal Agent.
How does Ideal Agent work for real estate agents?
If you’re an agent, Ideal Agent can increase your customer lead volume without necessarily increasing upfront costs.
Like most agent matching services, Ideal Agent vets prospective clients, which means the leads are high quality. Because Ideal Agent’s partner network is much smaller than those of its competitors, competition for those leads is likely limited — or potentially non-existent in certain markets.
That said, getting into Ideal Agents’ network may be easier said than done. It has strict criteria for its partners — and limited slots — which means it's not a viable option for many agents.
Do agents pay to partner with Ideal Agent?
Like all agent matching services, agents pay Ideal Agent a referral fee when they close on the sale or purchase of a home with an Ideal Agent customer. As with most agent matching services, there's no monthly subscription fee and you cannot pay to get more leads.
Ideal Agent’s referral fee is 25% of the sale price, similar to what other agent matching services charge. That referral fee is based on a discounted 2% listing fee, while homes under $150,000 pay a flat listing fee of $3,000.
For example, on a $400,000 home sale, here’s how much you can expect to make after closing.
Ideal Agent changes its terms for any dual agency transactions. If you represent both the buyer and the seller, Ideal Agent requires you to waive the buyer’s agent commission. You will have to charge an overall commission of just 2%, rather than getting both a listing fee and the buyer’s agent commission.
So, in the above example, you would net $6,000 on the sale of a $400,000 home regardless of whether you represented just the seller or the buyer and the seller.
How good are Ideal Agent leads?
Ideal Agent will only pass on a lead to one of its agents after a concierge has spoken to that lead over the phone. The concierge asks the customer questions about their home and timeline for selling in order to determine how serious they are.
Unlike other agent matching services — such as HomeLight — an actual human checks in and ensures the prospective seller or buyer is, in fact, qualified and ready to list or buy. While this vetting process is far from perfect, it helps reduce the risk of you getting dead-end leads.
Plus, Ideal Agent limits the number of agents it works with in a given market. You’re likely to get a higher share of the leads Ideal Agent gets in your area than if you worked with an agent matching service with tens of thousands of agents.
How to become an Ideal Agent
Ideal Agent claims to have the highest minimum sales requirements for agents in the industry. Its requirements are indeed higher than most of its competitors’, which it claims helps keep lead conversions high for agents.
The specific requirements depend on the size of the market you work in:
50 in the last 12 months
100 in the last 12 months
Ideal Agent’s other minimum agent requirements are:
- A current sales/broker license in good standing
- Being a full-service realtor/broker
- Being a top 1% agent or team by sales volume, either locally or nationally
- At least 5 years of real estate experience
- At least 25 reviews and a 4.9 star rating on Zillow or Realtor.com
- Local market knowledge
- Having a “great attitude”
These are just the minimum requirements, however, and not a guarantee of acceptance. An Ideal Agent representative told us that Ideal Agent avoids working with too many agents in one market to avoid oversaturating that market.
So, if you do meet the minimum requirements, but Ideal Agent already has agents in your market, you may be placed on a waitlist.