Reali offers potential commission savings for home sellers and buyers in California — but you may get less hands-on customer service and support.
Reali is a real estate brokerage and technology company that operates in select markets throughout California.
Reali offers a wide range of services (including an in-house mortgage company, Reali Loans) but is best known for its savings-centric real estate agent services for home sellers and buyers.
If you’re selling a home, you can list with a Reali Agent and get the same general range of services you’d expect from a traditional agent — but pay about 30% less overall.
If you’re looking to buy, you may be eligible to get back up to 1% of the home’s purchase price at closing.
So, what’s the catch?
The short answer is customer service and support. Reali handles a higher volume of deals with fewer agents, which limits the amount of time they can dedicate to each customer.
Depending on your preferences and situation, this could increase your risk of a bad experience and/or outcome with your sale or purchase.
In this review, we’ll break down Reali’s services, pricing, and overall value compared to other options to help you make the best choice for your situation and goals.
- As of 10/28/2020, Reali is available in the San Francisco Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego. Selling somewhere else? Find discount brokers near you.
- Reali Agents offer potential savings opportunities over traditional realtors but offer less hands-on service and support.
- Reali’s savings for sellers are average compared to other discount brokers. Other services offer far better rates for homes below the $500,000 mark. Compare rates here.
- Much of Reali’s service will be managed via its app, which has mediocre reviews. That said, it does offer some other tech benefits well-suited to selling during COVID-19.
- Reali’s agent team is small and experience is mixed. Make sure you shop around and interview multiple agents from different brokerages to find the best fit and value.
JUMP TO SECTION
Reali is a tech-driven real estate brokerage operating in select markets across California: the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego.
Reali’s primary offering is savings-centric real estate agent services for home sellers and buyers.
- Selling with Reali will cost you about 30% less than listing with a traditional realtor
- If you buy with Reali, you may qualify for a rebate of up to 1% of your new home’s purchase price back at closing
In addition, Reali offers a variety of other services, including an in-house loan operation, a cash offer program, and a "trade-in" program.
As you may have guessed, there are some trade-offs of selling or buying with Reali; in particular, you may get less hands-on guidance and support throughout your sale or purchase.
Most of the process will be managed remotely via the Reali App. While Reali seems to consider this a huge value-add, it seems its customers are less convinced.
Reviews of the Reali App are mixed at best. If you’re tech-averse — or, judging by the reviews, even if you’re not — managing a high-stakes, complicated process through a mobile app could prove stressful or problematic.
Is Reali legitimate?
Yes, Reali is a fully licensed real estate brokerage in the state of California. Reali Loans, formerly known as Lenda, is licensed in 12 U.S. States. That said, Reali’s marketing tends to gloss over or bury important terms of service, which could potentially mislead consumers.
Since launching in 2015, Reali has raised upwards of $42.2 million in investor funding. It acquired Lenda, a San Francisco-based mortgage startup, in April, 2019 to further its goal of becoming an “end-to-end real estate experience.”
Though Reali’s services and savings are legitimate, important details — such as minimum fees, terms, and restrictions for specific products and services — are often buried or misrepresented on its website.
For example, it advertises 1% and 2% fees for its Essential and Concierge listing services, respectively, but a closer read of the footer reveals $5,000 and $10,000 minimums.
Its Trade-In service stipulates that minimum fees also apply, but they’re not disclosed on Reali’s website. Moreover, Trade-In customers will pay closing costs for three different transactions — which could easily amount to 5-10% of a home’s total value — which is not made clear in the service description OR fine print.
If you’re considering Reali, don’t take its marketing at face value. Speak to a customer service rep or specialist and make sure you fully understand all of the fine print before moving forward.
How does Reali Real Estate make money?
Reali’s primary offering is savings-centric services for home sellers and buyers. So how can it offer discounted rates and refunds and still be a profitable business?
Reali finds ways to lower its operating costs and boost its margins. It does this primarily by:
- Handling a higher volume of customers with a smaller team
- Upselling existing customers on premium or additional Reali services
Like many discount brokers, Reali relies on a team-based approach to handle the higher volume of customers per agent. Lead Agents oversee the sale and handle some of the customer interfacing, but much of the day-to-day and non-customer-facing tasks are managed by Associate Agents and a back-office team.
Reali also relies on technology — namely its mobile app — to manage much of the process remotely and free up its Lead Agents to handle more customers at once.
Reali’s ultimate goal, however, is to provide an “end-to-end” real estate service. That means it wants to be a one-stop-shop, offering in-house options for every aspect of the home selling or buying process.
Many of Reali’s products and services are specifically designed to push customers toward its in-house loan operation. For example, you have to use a Reali Loan if you want to use its Trade-In or Cash Offer services.
Reali also makes money off of affiliate relationships with tangential services like title and insurance companies. For example, Reali may collect a referral fee when one of its customers buys a policy through Hippo, its insurance partner.
How much does Reali cost?
|Listing fee||1% ($5,000 min)||2% ($10,000 min)||2.5%|
|Services||Typical services a realtor provides, but with more dependence on an app and less hands-on support||Everything in Essential, plus professional home cleaning, limited staging services, 3D home tour, and more||Everything in Concierge, plus lets you move before selling your old home and avoid carrying two mortgages (note: requires Reali Loan)|
|Details below||Learn more||Learn more|
Reali’s “Essential” package is similar to the typical range of services you’d expect to receive from a traditional realtor — and comparable to offerings from similar discount brokerages.
You could save up to 30% by listing with Reali instead of a traditional agent; however, because of the $5,000 minimum fee, sellers with homes below the $500,000 mark will save less.
Here’s how the savings for Reali’s Essential package break down at four different price points:
*Compared to a 3% listing fee.
Importantly, when you sell with Reali — as with any real estate broker — there are a few other costs you’ll likely have to cover. We recommend budgeting for an additional 4.5-7% on top of the advertised listing fee. Here’s how that total breaks down:
Buyer’s agent commission (2.5-3% of sale price)
In real estate transactions, sellers typically cover the commission for the buyer’s agent for bringing their clients to purchase the home. Note: this isn’t unique to Reali. You’ll likely encounter this fee regardless of who you choose to sell with.
Closing costs (2-4% of sale price)
When you sell with Reali (or any real estate broker), you’ll be on the hook for some closing costs. These may include things like transfer taxes, title insurance, escrow fees, or more, depending on what you negotiate with the buyer.
How good are Reali Agents?
All Reali agents are fully licensed real estate agents and provide the same general range of services and support as traditional realtors. But there are a few differences that could affect your experience or outcome.
Agent selection and experience is limited
Reali’s Team isn’t very big. If you’re interested in taking advantage of Reali’s savings — or any of its other services — your choices will be limited. That means potentially settling for whoever is available, rather than picking the best fit from a range of options.
As of this writing, Reali’s website features only 15 Lead Agents, who are presumably servicing all of its markets across California. Zillow tells a similar story, showing 22 Reali Agents in total — a mixture of Leads and Associates. Only five of those Reali Agents on Zillow have more than 10 customer reviews. And 11 have no reviews at all.
Reali’s Lead Agents are typically required to have a minimum of three years’ experience, but that’s not necessarily the case for Associates and back-office team members who may handle certain aspects of your sale.
The size of the Reali Team also raises questions about bandwidth. When there’s only one Lead Agent responsible for the entire San Francisco market, it’s going to limit the amount of attention each individual customer receives — even with help from a back-office team.
Less incentive for agents
Unlike many traditional realtors, Reali agents are full-time employees who receive salaries and benefits. Reali’s job postings also call out 401ks, stock options, and monthly bonuses.
Recent data from Indeed suggests, however, that Reali’s typical base pay for Lead Agents is slightly below the annual average income for California agents — and significantly lower than the typical income for the top performing agents in the state.
This income gap is worth calling out as it could impact Reali’s ability to attract and retain talented agents.
Annual Income: Reali vs California agents
|Reali Lead Agents*||$72,053|
|All CA Agents**||$74,140|
|Top 10% CA Agents**||$127,800+|
When interviewing agents — from Reali or any brokerage — consider their:
- Experience in your specific neighborhood and price range
- Past customer reviews and testimonials
- Communication style and responsiveness
- Estimate of your home’s value
- And finally, the fees they charge, too!
Remember, you’re looking for the agent who is going to sell your house for the most money possible — not just charge you the lowest commission.
Saving $5,000 on commission sounds great, but if the discount agent or service you hire ends up selling your home for $20,000 below its fair-market value, you’re going to lose a lot more than you gain.
Try Clever’s free agent-matching service!
Interview top agents, find the perfect fit, save thousands.
How does Reali compare to similar services?
|Reali||Clever||Redfin||REX Real Estate|
|Avg customer rating||4.6 (390 reviews)||4.9 (550 reviews)||3.2 (283 reviews)||4.7 (697 reviews)|
|Dedicated point of contact?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Regions covered||California||National||National||Southwest, West, Southeast, Mid-atlantic, Northeast|
|Listing fee||1% or $5,000||1% or $3,000||1.5% (min fees vary by market)||2% or $9,000|
|Learn more||Learn more||Learn more||Learn more|
Overall, Reali offers decent savings and value compared to similar services — but only at specific price points.
Due to its relatively hefty $5,000 minimum fee for its Essential service (its base, “full-service” package), if you’re selling a home home at or below the $500,000 mark, you can definitely find better rates and service elsewhere.
Clever, for example, is not a discount broker. It’s a free agent-matching service that pre-negotiates 1% or $3,000 flat rates with top local agents from major brands like Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and Century 21. With Clever, you get more realtors to choose from, plus all the benefits of listing with a top-rated, traditional agent for a fraction of the price.
When comparing options, do your due diligence and factor in minimum fees and your home’s value to see which service is right for your specific situation.
For example, while the advertised fee for Reali’s Essential service (1%) is lower than Redfin’s most similar offering (1.5%), the minimums are actually pretty similar:
|Market||Redfin minimum||Reali minimum|
Of course, hard savings shouldn’t be your only consideration. Sticking with the Redfin example, though Reali may offer a lower rate at certain price points, Redfin has more agents, is available in more markets, and is a bigger company with a more proven track record of success.
Your home is likely one of the most valuable things you’ll ever have to sell. Deciding who to hire to represent your interests should never be as simple as asking, “who has the lowest price tag?”
Selling with Reali
|Biggest benefits of selling with Reali…|
|Biggest risks of selling with Reali…|
When you sell with Reali, you’ll get the same general range of services you’d expect from a traditional realtor, including pricing recommendations; professional photos; your listing on the MLS and other popular real estate sites; help with offers, contracts, negotiations; and more.
There are a few specific benefits and drawbacks worth calling out:
- Benefits: Essential package includes a 3D Home Tour and two open houses
- Drawbacks: Your Reali Agent will typically NOT be present for inspections, the final walkthrough, escrow, or signing the documents
The actual experience of selling with Reali will be quite different, however, than selling with a traditional realtor.
Reali relies on its mobile app and a team-based approach to manage the higher volume of deals. That means much of your communication will be handled via the app and you’ll deal with many different people during your sale, rather than a single dedicated agent throughout.
Why does this matter?
Real estate transactions are stressful and complicated. Communicating and managing the process through an app — particularly one with a lot of room for improvement, according to customer reviews — won’t work for everyone.
Moreover, when more people are involved in your sale, there’s an increased risk of miscommunications, mistakes, and delays that could jeopardize the outcome.
This approach isn’t a deal breaker — and it’s certainly not unique to Reali — but it’s something you should consider as you weigh your options against your own needs and preferences.
Buying with Reali
You can also buy a home with Reali. You’ll get the same general range of services as you would from a traditional realtor; however, as with selling, expect less hands-on attention and support.
Buying with Reali won’t cost you anything out of pocket — in real estate, the fee for the buyer’s agent is typically taken from the seller’s proceeds from the sale.
There are a few benefits and additional service options worth mentioning, though:
- Reali offers a rebate for qualifying buyers (see next section)
- If you decide to use a Reali Loan, you can utilize its Cash Offer or Trade-Inprograms
Reali Cash Back
Some Reali buyers may be eligible for Reali’s Cash Back offering — what’s more commonly known as a home buyer rebate, or commission rebate. This is when your agent or brokerage refunds you a portion of the commission it collects on your home purchase.
In many states, rebates are highly regulated and can only be spent in certain ways (some states don’t allow them at all). The good news is that in California, you can receive your rebate as cash.
Reali offers up to 1% of the home’s purchase price back at closing. This is a pretty typical rate among discount brokerages and services that offer rebates.
There are some terms and restrictions surrounding Reali’s rebate offering, though. The buyer’s agent commission Reali receives must exceed 1.5% of the home’s list price or $5,000 (whichever is greater) for the buyer to be eligible.
Just remember, many agents and brands offer commission rebates and, as a buyer, you don’t have to pay your agent’s fee. Aim for the stars! Shop around to see how Reali stacks up against the very best of the best in your area to find the right fit.
Additional Reali services
Reali Concierge is basically the Essential package with some additional home prep services, like cleaning and staging, for double the price.
Concierge could be worth a look if you have a more expensive home; however, it’s likely much cheaper to find and pay for these services out of pocket.
When you sign up for Concierge, you’ll get everything included in the Essential package plus:
- A professional home cleaning
- Home staging (up to 2,000 sq ft)
- Four open houses (two more than with the Essential package)
- An “Advanced Marketing Package,” which includes a video tour, drone footage, and a featured listing on Zillow
Concierge doesn’t come cheap. The $10,000 minimum fee means you’ll be paying more than the advertised 2% rate if your home is worth less than $500,000.
Actual rates will vary by home and market, of course, but even on the higher end, chances are your total cost isn’t going to make up for that extra $5,000 or 1% premium over the Essential package.
|Min Credit Score||Min Down Payment||Loan Types|
|Purchase, refinance, jumbo, fixed, FHA, VA|
Reali Loans has been around since 2019, when Reali acquired Lenda, an online mortgage startup founded a little over six years earlier.
Reali Loans offers fixed- or variable-rate new purchase and refinance loans for home buyers and current homeowners, respectively. It underwrites FHA- and VA-backed mortgages, and qualified buyers can get jumbo loans up to $3 million.
Note: Reali Loans does not offer loans for investment, commercial, manufactured, or mobile properties — also, no adjustable-rate or home equity loan offerings.
A few things set Reali Loans apart from other mortgage services:
- It doesn’t charge any lender fees — that means when it comes to common mortgage-related costs like origination, application, and credit fees, you pay $0.
- Its loan product feeds into other value-add service offerings, including its Cash Offer and Trade-In programs, which are detailed in the next two sections.
- Note: you will have to pay typical third-party fees, such as title and home appraisal, as well as interest, insurance, and taxes.
While Reali’s real estate broker services are only available in California, Reali Loans operates in 12 U.S. States. See the table below.
Reali Loans locations
» MORE: Learn about Reali Loans.
If you qualify for and use a Reali Loan, you can use Reali’s Trade-In service, touted as a low-stress alternative to the traditional home selling process.
It offers some legit benefits — no double mortgage, flexible closing, a cash-backed offer on your new home — but the associated (and semi-hidden) costs may make it not worth it.
Here’s how it works in a nutshell: Reali buys your new home for you with cash, lists and sells your old home, then you buy your new home back from Reali with the proceeds from your old home’s sale (minus the associated fees, of course).
In exchange for this service, you can expect to pay:
- A 2.5% fee to Reali
- Buyer’s agent commission (typically 2.5-3%)
- Three sets of closing costs (that’s one more than usual, so assume an extra 3-5% on top of typical closing costs)
- Deferred “rent” to Reali on your new home until you buy it back (roughly equivalent to a typical monthly mortgage payment with 20% down, 4% interest)
- Note: this rent does not go towards paying down your Reali Loan
Most of these costs will not be due up front (aside from a 3% deposit if your offer gets accepted). They’ll be taken out of the proceeds from the sale of your old home. But if those proceeds come up short, you will have to cover the difference out of pocket.
» MORE: Learn about Reali Trade-In.
Reali Cash Offer
Reali Loan customers can take advantage of Reali’s Cash Offer program, which seems like a legitimately good value-add service with few (dare we say no?) hidden strings attached.
In a nutshell, if you qualify for and secure a Reali Loan, Reali will front the cash so you can make a cash-backed offer on your new home, which:
- Helps you move faster
- Increases your offer’s appeal
- Could potentially save you money (cash offers may help you negotiate a lower price)
Unlike Reali’s Trade-In service, you won’t have to pay an additional fee to use the Cash Offer program.
This could give you an edge over other buyers in a highly competitive market and/or even save you money; however, make sure you’re shopping around for different mortgage options and rates to make sure you’re getting a legitimately good deal.
» MORE: Learn about Reali Cash Offer.
Reali customer reviews
Note: The following review information is up-to-date as of 10/28/2020. We will update this section as new information becomes available.
|Rating||# of reviews|
Overall, Reali’s ratings across third-party sites are fair, with an average customer rating of 4.6 across 390 total reviews.
It’s worth noting that the above reviews — particularly on Trustpilot and Google — represent a mixture of Reali Real Estate and Reali Loans customers.
So what do customers have to say about their experiences working with Reali?
The most common themes among positive Reali reviews are:
- Honest, professional, and knowledgeable agents
- Good communication from the team
- Paperless, tech-driven process
This seller had a great experience with Reali. She specifically called out how her Reali Agent and team made the experience positive and easy, despite the challenges of selling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Reali buyer had a smooth and easy experience purchasing their home with Reali back in August 2020. He said the tech-driven process made for an exceptionally fast closing.
This Reali buyer had a mixed experience with Reali back in July. On the one hand, they love the refund and Reali’s tech-driven process — especially in light of COVID-19. On the other, they said the Reali Team was not only slow to communicate and act, but also made some sloppy mistakes.
The most common themes among negative Reali reviews are:
- Lacking when it comes to negotiations
- Slow moving, nonresponsive
- Mistakes and errors
This Reali seller had the unpleasant experience of their agent being fired by Reali in the middle of their transaction, then learning about it from their Title company — not Reali. When they tried to contact Reali, they couldn’t get in touch, which led to a bumpy closing.
This seller was frustrated by Reali Agents’ lack of experience when it came to impactful aspects of the sale like negotiations. He also felt that because other agents knew the Reali Team is inexperienced and makes mistakes, they were less likely to push their clients toward Reali listings.
This buyer signed up with Reali because of the promise of cash back at closing. But they felt the team’s inexperience, disorganization, and lack of communication lead to a very stressful experience that almost resulted in them losing their dream house.
Reali App reviews
|Rating||# of reviews|
|Apple App Store||3.4||124|
The Reali App has a mediocre average rating of 3.7 out of 447 total reviews on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Just to put that in perspective, the Redfin App has an average rating of 4.8 out of 661,124+ total reviews…
Most feel the app has potential, but there are still a huge number of kinks that need working out. Moreover, some complained that in order to even try out the app, you have to supply your contact info, which will result in a deluge of calls from salespeople within a matter of hours.
Conclusion: Is Reali a good option for you?
|Reali is worth considering if…|
|You may want to avoid Reali if…|
Reali is a legit service that has a proven track record of helping people successfully sell or buy homes and save thousands.
Whether it’s a good choice for you really comes down to:
- Your personal preferences
- How much risk you’re willing to take on for the potential savings on offer
- The circumstances surrounding your sale or purchase
- The quality of the Reali Agents and Team in your area
Remember, there is never an obligation to move forward when you interview discount brokerages, agents, or any other real estate service. If you feel pressured or uncomfortable at any point during the interview process, that’s a major red flag.
You have absolutely nothing to lose — and everything to gain — by shopping around and comparing rates, experience, and personalities to find the perfect fit.
Reali may well end up being your best bet, but you’ll never know for sure unless you get out there and explore all of your options.
Reali business hours, contact information
|Business hours||9am-6pm PST, 7 days a week|