Reali provides buy-before-you-sell and cash offer services to home buyers in California. These programs can help you make a strong offer on your next home, whether you're buying your first home or if you need to sell your current home as well.
The company's mortgage lending division, Reali Loans, is licensed to provide loans in California and a handful of other states.
Reali charges a 1% service fee for its buy-before-you-sell service and 0.5% for cash offers. These fees are comparable to other trade-in and cash offers services like Knock and Flyhomes.
A trade-in service like Reali's is convenient, but service fees and agent commission will chip away at your profit from selling your home. All in, you can expect to pay 11.5–13.5% to trade in your home with Reali.
How has Reali changed?
Originally founded as a discount brokerage in 2015, Reali began by offering real estate agents who would work for a flat fee instead of commission.
In 2019, the company moved away from discount agents and started focusing on buy-before-you-sell services and cash offers.
In 2019, Reali also bought Lenda, a mortgage company, and changed its name to Reali Loans.
The company recently raised $250 million in funding in 2021 for a total of $300 million overall since its founding.
Should you use Reali?
Unless you find an agent at Reali you really want to work with, we don't recommend using Reali because of customer reviews with complaints of poor service, delays in completing paperwork, and unresponsive agents.
While Reali's buy-before-you-sell and cash offer programs can help you place competitive bids on a new home — even if you haven't sold your current home yet — other companies with better reputations for customer service offer the same services in California and beyond.
If you're thinking about using a trade-in service to buy your next home, or if you want to put down an all-cash offer to make your bid stand apart in a competitive market, we recommend using Knock or Flyhomes instead.
Reali Buy Before You Sell
Buy-before-you-sell services, sometimes called trade-in services, are for people who have found a home they want to buy but still need to sell the home they currently own. Reali can help you do this by buying the new home first, then selling it back to you.
How Reali Buy Before You Sell Works
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. First, you need to know what you can afford. A pre-approval letter from a mortgage company will help you find homes in your price range. You can choose Reali Loans as your lender or use a different lender.
- Get ready to sell the old home. A Reali agent will help you prepare the home for listing and develop a strategy for pricing.
- Find a new home. When you find your next dream home, your Reali agent will help you make an appropriate offer.
- Move into your new home. Once the offer is accepted, Reali will buy the home using its cash. You'll pay rent to live in the new home until your old home sells and your new mortgage is approved.
- Sell your old home. Your Reali listing agent will help you market your home and negotiate offers.
- Buy your new home from Reali. Once you sell your old home, and the new mortgage for the new home is ready, you'll buy the new home and take over mortgage payments.
Things to watch out for
One of the most common complaints in Reali customer reviews is difficulty getting in touch with people at the company. Customers complain about needing to call for updates and having to remind Reali about completing important paperwork.
Delays could jeopardize the sale of your old home, the purchase of your new home, or both.
What does Reali's Buy Before You Sell cost?
Reali charges a 1% service fee for its Buy Before You Sell service but you can expect to pay 11.5–13.5% in total.
Cost on a $600,000 home
Selling closing costs
Buyer closing costs
Home rental costs (30 days)
*CA average per transaction.
**Reali says that rent is close to the eventual mortgage payment.
(For sake of simplicity, we assumed that both the old and new homes had a value of $600,000.)
You'll pay these costs if you use a competing trade-in service like Knock or Flyhomes. But Reali's undisclosed fees, like closing costs, can add up to more than competitor costs.
Additional closing costs
Above we use the average buyer closing costs in California for buying and selling, but using Reali may actually require you to pay closing costs on three separate transactions:
- Reali's purchase of your new home
- Selling your old home
- Buying the new home from Reali
This could add up to an additional 1–2% once the entire trade-in process is complete, bringing the total closer to 12.5–15.5% or $75,000–93,000 to trade two $600,000 homes.
Alternatives to Reali Buy Before You Sell
The steps for using Knock or Flyhomes for a trade-in are similar, but the companies finance the transactions differently, making them less expensive than Reali.
Knock, for example, won't require a third set of closing costs like Reali because you start making your mortgage payments on the new home as soon as you move in.
Knock and Flyhomes also have some special perks that Reali doesn't offer, such as backup offers in case your old home doesn't sell. Flyhomes will even put your home back on the market for free if you decide you want to sell within one year.
Knock Home Swap
Knock's trade-in service, Knock Home Swap, gives you an interest-free bridge loan to make a down payment on your new home.
You can also use the bridge loan for:
- Up to $25,000 of repairs on the old home to get it ready to sell
- Up to six months of mortgage payments on your old home
Knock also has a backup offer that will pay 80–85% of your home's fair market value in case your home doesn't sell for six months.
Flyhomes buy before you sell
Flyhomes specializes in winning homes for buyers in hot markets like many of the places in California where Reali operates.
Flyhomes will pre-underwrite you for a mortgage within 24 hours, so you'll quickly know what homes you can afford. Once Flyhomes buys the new home for you, you have 90 days to sell the old home and buy the new one from Flyhomes.
Flyhomes also offers a unique guarantee: if you decide you are unsatisfied with the new home within one year of buying it, the company will stage and list the new home for free (you'll still need to pay a buyer's agent commission of 2.5–3% when it sells).
Knock and Flyhomes trade-in costs
8.75–11.75% plus $1,700
Cost to trade two $600,000 homes
Knock charges a 1.25% service fee along with a flat fee of $1,700 for its Home Swap service. Because you can use your own agent with Knock, we adjusted the commission in our calculation above to 1–3% to reflect the possible savings with a 1% agent.
Flyhomes charges 1% for its trade-in service. At $100–200 per day, its rent charges might be more expensive than competitors depending upon the value of the home. There's also a 6% bridge loan interest you'll pay on the loan from the time Flyhomes buys the home until you buy it outright.
Reali Cash Offer
Cash offers are handy if you want to buy in a competitive market because they allow you to make an offer using all cash, which signals to the seller that you won't ask them to wait for your mortgage financing to come through.
Reali's cash offer program costs 0.5% of the purchase price of the home. This fee is waived if you choose Reali Loans as your lender.
But there are other costs to consider, too:
- Buyer closing costs (1–2%)
- Home rental costs until the mortgage comes through (1% for 30 days)
How Reali Cash Offer Works
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. A Reali loan officer will help you determine how much you can afford and get a pre-approval letter ready for you to go home shopping.
- Shop for your new home. Find a new home in your price range with help from your Reali agent.
- Make a cash offer and move in. Reali will make a cash offer on the home. If the seller accepts the offer, you can move in right after closing. You'll pay rent until you get your own mortgage for the home.
- Buy the home from Reali. Once you have secured your mortgage, you'll buy the home from Reali and start making mortgage payments on your new home.
Things to watch out for
You can move in once Reali closes on the home, but you don't own it until you buy the home from Reali using your mortgage loan.
In the meantime, you'll owe rent to Reali to the tune of 1% of the home's value per month. This means that if Reali takes two weeks to get the mortgage ready on your $600,000 home, it'll cost you $3,000.
Delays in your mortgage processing can be costly, an important point to remember because Reali's customer reviews mention holdups in paperwork and difficulty getting timely responses from company reps.
What does Reali's Cash Offer cost?
Along with the 0.5% service fee (waived if you use Reali Loans) you should expect to pay closing costs of 1–2% using Reali Cash Offer.
You'll also need to pay rent (about 1% of the home's value per month) until your mortgage is processed and you can buy the home from Reali.
Cost on a $600,000 home
Buyer closing costs
Home rental costs (30 days)
**Reali says that rent is close to the eventual mortgage payment.
After closing costs and rent is factored in, you can expect to pay 2.5–3.5% of the cost of the home for using Reali's cash offer service, which works out to $15,000–21,000 on a $600,000 home.
Alternatives to Reali Cash Offer
We recommend using Knock's cash offer service, Knock GO. Overall, it's less expensive because you won't have to pay rent like you do with Reali and Flyhomes.
Buying with Knock GO
Knock's Guaranteed Offer — or Knock GO for short — only costs $1,450. There are no additional service fees and the Knock agent's commission will be paid for by the seller.
There's also no rent charge for Knock — you'll start paying your mortgage and building equity in your new home the first day you move in.
Knock GO provides what Knock calls a "cash-backed" offer. This means that while the initial offer is financed instead of all cash, Knock promises that the financing will be ready to go within 30 days. If there are delays that prevent this from happening, Knock steps in and changes the offer to all cash.
To use Knock GO, you'll need to use Knock as your mortgage lender. This may limit your options for choosing a good rate, but on the other hand, other mortgage companies have loan origination fees that will end up being much more than Knock's flat $1,450 fee.
Buying with Flyhomes' cash offer
Flyhomes' service fee for its cash offer service is 1%. This fee is offset to 0% if you use Flyhomes Mortgage.
The real cost of Flyhomes' cash offer service is the rent payments. You can move into your new home once Flyhomes closes, but you'll need to start paying rent of $100–200 per day until the mortgage comes through, just like Reali.
One benefit of Flyhomes is that you can take up to three months to shop around for a lender of your choice. But you'll be paying rent until the mortgage is secured, which will eat into any savings you might get with a lower rate.
Knock and Flyhomes vs. Reali cash offer costs
Buyer closing costs (1–2%)*
Rent (for 30 days)
$100–200 per day ($3,000–6,000)
Cost for a $600,000 home
Cost with 0% service fee**
**Reali and Flyhomes waive their service fees if you use them as your lender.
Because you don't have to pay any rent with Knock, it's the least expensive option compared to using an outside lender with Reali or Flyhomes.
However, if you did choose to go with Reali or Flyhomes and use their in-house lender for your mortgage, your service fee would be waived, possibly making either option cheaper than Knock.
You would need to compare interest rates at the time to see which option would be the least expensive over the life of the loan.
Reali Home Loans
Reali Loans operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington. Reali Loans has been around since 2019, when Reali acquired mortgage company Lenda.
At the time of writing, a 15-year fixed loan from Reali for someone in California with excellent credit had an interest rate a couple of percentage points higher than Flyhomes and Knock. In our analysis, Knock's rates were the best overall.
Reali Loans requires a minimum credit score of 620, which is considered to be a "fair" score.
Be aware that reviews for Reali Loans have many of the same complaints as the company's other services. Reviews mention miscommunication and trouble completing paperwork to move the loan along. These problems could lead to extra fees adding up, especially if you're currently paying rent and waiting for the mortgage to come through on a home you purchased through Reali's trade-in or cash offer services.
Reali Loans offers:
- Fixed-rate conventional loans
- Conforming loans
- High-balance loans
- Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate jumbo loans
Reali Loans does NOT offer:
- FHA loans
- VA loans
- USDA loans
Mortgage rates change all of the time. It's important to shop around for the best rates when you're ready to apply for a loan. Clever can help you get started.
Get Pre-approved Today!
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Customer Reviews of Reali
Reali has a 3.3 rating on Google across 55 reviews.
The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but the two reviews included on the BBB page are 1 out of 5 stars.
While there are plenty of 5-star reviews for Reali, the 1- and 2-star reviews share a few common themes. Many of the recent reviews on Google have the same complaints as reviews from a year or more ago, suggesting Reali has yet to fix some of its biggest problems.
Lack of communication
Reviews state that Reali agents and customer service reps are not responsive. Calls went unreturned for up to three days. One reviewer commented that it felt like reps aren't interested in answering questions as much as they are in closing your deal.
Delays on Reali's part lead to bigger problems
Several reviews mentioned delays with paperwork and other communications between Reali and other parties, which led to serious problems like insurance companies not getting paid and premiums being canceled.
Other reviewers said that people they talked to couldn't look up specifics about their account or didn't know the answers to basic real estate questions.
Where does Reali do business?
Reali Buy Before You Sell and Cash Offers are only available for buyers and sellers in select markets in California:
- San Francisco
- San Gabriel Valley
- Inland Empire
- Long Beach
- Orange County
Reali Loans operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington.
Frequently asked questions about Reali
Reali’s Buy Before You Sell and Cash Offers programs are only available in select markets in California. Reali Loans is licensed in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington. Learn more about where Reali operates.
Yes. Reali is a legit company that was originally founded as a discount brokerage in 2015. In 2019, Reali dropped the discount broker model and moved on to buy-before-you-sell and cash offer services. The company also provides mortgages through Reali Loans. Learn more about Reali.
Yes. Reali Loans is a licensed lender in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington. Learn more about Reali Loans.
In order to provide this informative review, our team spent weeks researching each company mentioned in the article. We examined the services across multiple points of comparison. Our research includes:
- Mystery shopping each company
- Speaking with real estate experts
- Analyzing each company's services and fees
VentureBeat. "Reali raises $29 million to replace realtor commissions with flat fees." Accessed 02/17/2022. Updated 04/17/2019.
Inman. "Reali unveils Trade-In program." Accessed 02/17/2022. Updated 08/30/2019.
HousingWire. "Real estate startup Reali acquires online lender Lenda, expands into mortgages." Accessed 02/17/2022. Updated 05/08/2019.
Inman. "Reali raises $250M in equity and debt financing." Accessed 02/17/2022. Updated 08/18/2021.
Inman. "Reali unveils Trade-In program." Accessed 07/01/2022. Updated 08/30/2019.