✍️ Editor's take: Reali offers legit savings and a solid "Cash Offer" program. But hands-off support and limited agent selection may compromise service quality.
Reali is a real estate brokerage and technology company that operates in select markets throughout California.
Reali's primary offering is discounted real estate agent services. 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 realtor — but pay about 30% less overall.
However, there's a catch:
Reali Agents handle a higher volume of transactions than most realtors. This limits their ability to provide personalized support to each customer.
What is Reali?
Reali is a tech-driven real estate brokerage with licensed real estate agents who can help you buy or sell a home in most major California metros.
Unlike most big-name brokerages like Keller Williams and Coldwell Banker, Reali is a discount brokerage. Simply put, this means:
- Reali offers potential commission savings for home sellers and buyers
- Those savings may come at the expense of service quality and personal support
When you buy or sell with Reali, most of the process will be managed remotely via the Reali App. While Reali seems to consider this a huge value-add, its customer reviews suggest users are less than 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.
In addition, Reali offers a variety of other services, including an in-house loan operation, a cash offer program, and a "trade-in" program.
How much can you save with Reali?
If you opt for Reali’s standard listing package, you’ll likely pay about 3.5-4% in total commission fees. That's up to 30% less than selling with an agent from a traditional real estate brokerage.
» MORE: How much does Reali cost?
Home buyers can save by using a Reali Agent, too. Reali refunds buyers up to 1% of the purchase price at closing — $12,000, on average — although numerous terms and restrictions apply.
» MORE: How does the Reali rebate work?
Who should use Reali?
Reali is worth considering if...
You may want to avoid Reali if…
» COMPARE: Reali vs. top alternatives
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.
Reali has an average customer rating of 4.6 based on 415 reviews. It has an A+ rating with the BBB and has been accredited since 2018.
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.”
Watch out for misleading marketing tactics
Although 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.
Reali 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.
Reali also makes it difficult to find crucial information about its Trade-In service. The website states that minimum fees apply, but doesn't list those fees. Nor does Reali make clear that Trade-In customers will pay closing costs for three different transactions — which could easily amount to 5-10% of a home’s total value!
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 make money?
So how can Reali offer the same range of services as a traditional brokerage for less without going out of 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
Reali Agents outsource day-to-day tasks to a back-office team
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.
» MORE: How good are Reali Agents?
Reali manages much of the sales process remotely
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 pushes customers toward its in-house loan service
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 collects referral fees by sending customers to its partners
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?
Reali’s “Essential” package has a 1% listing fee. It's similar to the typical range of services you’d expect to receive from a traditional realtor — and comparable to offerings from similar discount brokerages.
That translates to an average $6,375 in listing fee savings across four price points, with higher dollar savings for higher home prices.
*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, the commission for the buyer's agent typically comes out of the sale proceeds. 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.
✍️ Editor’s note
Before listing with Reali, compare your expected savings against the average commission rate in your area. Take the time to shop around to make sure you're getting the best value.
Hire the agent you believe will get you the best price for your home — not just charge the lowest commission. Saving 2% on realtor fees is great, but if the agent sells your home for 10% less than its fair market value, you're losing a lot more than you're gaining.
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.
Reali Agent experience varies — and selection is VERY 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.
Reali’s website currently features only 15 Lead Agents, who are presumably servicing all of its markets across California. Zillow tells a similar story, showing 23 Reali Agents in total — a mixture of Leads and Associates. Only six 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.
Reali Agents may not be able to provide hands-on service
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.
Salaried agents have less direct incentive than traditional realtors
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.
However, recent data from Indeed suggests 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.
Reali Agents earn a lot less than top California realtors
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.
How does Reali compare to similar services?
REX Real Estate
Avg customer rating
4.6 (415 reviews)
4.9 (590 reviews)
3.2 (287 reviews)
4.7 (765 reviews)
Dedicated point of contact?
Southwest, West, Southeast, Mid-atlantic, Northeast
1% or $5,000
1% or $3,000
1.5% (min fees vary by market)
2.5% or $9,000
*Average fee compared to a 3% commission at four price points: $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, $750,000.
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.
Watch out for Reali's minimum fees
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:
Of course, hard savings shouldn’t be your only consideration. Sticking with the Redfin example, although 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 basic 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 virtual 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.
Tech-driven customer experience isn't for everyone
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.
Team-based approach may increase the risk of problems
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 a Reali Agent. But, as with selling, expect less hands-on attention and support than you'd get from a traditional realtor.
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
- If you decide to use a Reali Loan, you can utilize its Cash Offer or Trade-In programs
What is 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.
Average rebate for *eligible* buyers is $12,000
Reali offers up to 1% of the home’s purchase price back at closing. The company says the average buyer who qualifies for a rebate saves $12,000. That's a lot of cash, but 1% back is a pretty typical rate among discount brokerages and services that offer rebates.
📢 An important note about home buyer rebates
There are a TON of rules and restrictions surrounding commission rebates. This is why you’ll almost always see conditional language in advertisements — i.e., “Get up to X%” or “$X on average.”
Make sure to read the fine print up front so you don't encounter any unwelcome surprises later on.
» LEARN: Everything you should know about home buyer rebates
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.
How to qualify for Reali Cash Back
For your purchase to qualify for Reali Cash Back, Reali must receive at least 1.5% of the home's list price or $5,000 (whichever is greater) in buyer's agent commission.
Additionally, the property must be located within Reali's service area, which is much smaller than the reach of many other discount brokers.
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
One of the ways Reali seeks to turn a profit while offering discount rates is by upselling existing customers on other Reali services, including:
Be aware that although these "add-ons" may be convenient, they may not offer the best value or service quality.
Reali Concierge is basically the Essential package with some additional home prep services, like cleaning and staging, for double the price.
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
Reali’s Concierge service 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.
💰 Is Reali Concierge worth it?
Reali Concierge could be worth a look if you have a more expensive home — but chances are you can get the same services for less by finding local contractors and providers yourself.
» SAVE: Compare quotes from local home improvement pros
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
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
What makes Reali Loans different
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 currently operates in 11 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.
How Reali Trade-In works
Here’s how Reali Trade-In 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.
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. Just 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 1/4/2021. We will update this section as new information becomes available.
Overall, Reali’s ratings across third-party sites are fair, with an average customer rating of 4.6 across 415 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.
What customers like about Reali
So what do customers have to say about their experiences working with Reali?
The most common themes among positive Reali reviews are:
- Legit savings
- Honest, professional, and knowledgeable agents
- Good communication from the team
- Paperless, tech-driven process
My Reali Agent was 'phenomenal'
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.
Reali's tech-driven process helped deliver a 'fast closing'
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.
The savings are 'great' — but Reali's customer service was sloppy
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.
What customers DON'T like about Reali
The most common themes among negative Reali reviews are:
- Lacking when it comes to negotiations
- Slow moving, nonresponsive
- Mistakes and errors
Reali fired our agent — and didn't tell us
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.
My Reali Agents were inexperienced and made 'too many' mistakes
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.
Working with Reali was NOT a fun experience
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
The Reali App has a mediocre average rating of 3.8 out of 462 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 746,234 total reviews...
Most users 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 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 and contact information
9am-6pm PST, 7 days a week
As of 1/4/2021, Reali is available in the following metropolitan areas in California:
Better Business Bureau. "Reali Better Business Bureau Profile." Accessed 1/4/2021.
Crunchbase. "Reali Profile on Crunchbase."