✍️ Editor's take: UpNest is fast and easy, and its agents are solid — but it falls short of competitors in two key areas: customer service and savings.
UpNest is a free online service that connects home buyers and home sellers with local full-service agents, who then compete for their business.
After providing UpNest with some basic info about your needs, you’ll receive proposals from multiple agents, usually within 24 hours.
UpNest is fast and the agents in its network are generally solid. But because it doesn’t pre-negotiate commission fees or buyer rebates on your behalf, savings aren’t guaranteed and are limited compared to some competitors.
For example, Clever Real Estate offers the same no-cost agent matching service, but also has built-in savings for sellers and eligible buyers.
With Clever, sellers get full service from a top-rated local agent for just $3,000 or 1%, guaranteed. Clever buyers in qualifying markets can get 0.5% of their home’s purchase price cash back after closing.
Our team spent more than 1,400 hours researching UpNest and other agent matching services. Read on to learn more about what we uncovered and whether UpNest is worth your time — or skip ahead to read UpNest reviews by real customers.
Should you work with UpNest?
👍 What we like about UpNest:
👎 Where UpNest misses the mark:
When we mystery shopped UpNest, all of our agent matches were highly qualified and located nearby. Plus, the service was fast: Our first matches arrived within minutes of signing up. We also liked UpNest's dashboard, which made it easy to compare options.
But we weren't impressed by the savings or customer service.
The best commission rate we got was 2% vs. the typical 2.5-3%. In most proposals, the rate was comparable to what you could negotiate with an agent on your own.
UpNest’s customer service was also disappointing. We found it difficult to reach the company; many of our calls and messages went unanswered.
Bottom line: Is UpNest right for you?
UpNest has good agents, but if you’re looking for maximum savings, there are better options. The realtor fees, while slightly discounted, will be higher than the rates you can get through other agent matching services, like Clever.
However, like all agent matching services, UpNest is free and involves no obligations. We recommend trying UpNest and Clever side by side to see which one gets you the best agents and rates.
What is UpNest?
UpNest is an agent matching service that describes itself as an online “real estate agent marketplace.”
In other words, UpNest allows real estate agents to compete against one another for the business of local home buyers and sellers.
The idea is that competition encourages UpNest partner agents to offer lower rates to make their proposals look more attractive to buyers and sellers. It also encourages agents to respond to UpNest clients quickly in order to secure their business.
UpNest also offers home purchase and refinance loans, via its subsidiary UpNest Home Loans, in eight U.S. states (CA, CO, FL, IL, MD, NJ, VA, WA).
Is UpNest legitimate?
Yes, UpNest is a legitimate company. It holds an active brokerage license in California; an active brokerage licence is a requirement for all agent matching services. UpNest Home Loans LLC is a licensed mortgage lender in eight states. While UpNest allows you to negotiate a lower commission with realtors, it has no built-in savings.
UpNest reviews are generally positive, with a rating of 4.6 out of 2,934 reviews. The company is also accredited by the Better Business Bureau, where it has an A+ rating
UpNest, at a glance
4.6 (2,934 reviews)
Agent network size
💰 Potential savings are misleading
UpNest is misleading when it comes to how much you can save with its agents. Its site prominently features a number of savings calculators that claim you’ll get impressive savings compared to agents outside of UpNest.
However, our team found these savings exaggerated and based on misleading assumptions. Chances are, your savings with UpNest will be a lot lower than what the company claims. Skip ahead to learn more about how UpNest uses funny math to jack up its “savings.”
How does UpNest work?
- You sign up by entering basic information about your sale or purchase on the UpNest site, including location, timeline, property type, and estimated value.
- You’ll be taken to your customer dashboard where you can compare different agent proposals. You may get 1-2 proposals instantly, while others may take minutes, hours, or even days.
- You’ll get a phone call and an email from an UpNest Advisor who will explain how the process works and ask about your preferences in an agent.
- You select which agents you want to interview and sign with your favorite one.
- If you don’t like any of the agent matches, you can request more or simply walk away.
✍️ Editor's note
UpNest's agent matching process is mostly automated. While an UpNest Advisor usually checks in after the initial matches have been made and may send you new ones, those first matches are typically made by a computer without any human oversight.
A Clever Concierge, in contrast, checks in beforehand to learn more about your situation. Clever then uses that info to create better, more personalized matches based on both data and human oversight.
How much does UpNest cost?
Like all agent matching services, UpNest doesn't charge buyers or sellers for its service. Moreover, there’s no obligation to sign with any of the agents that send you proposals through the platform.
So you can get an agent match and even interview that agent without committing to anything. You’re always free to walk away if you don’t feel like the agent is a good fit.
If you’re selling, you will have to pay your UpNest agent — and the buyer’s agent — a commission fee, just as you would if you found an agent on your own. UpNest’s agents determine their own fee structure, which typically ranges from 4.5-5% in total.
💰 How much can sellers save with UpNest?
Most UpNest agents offer listing fees between 2-2.5%. The lowest we got was 2%.
Assuming you pay a 2.5-3% buyer’s agent fee, that leaves you with a total commission fee of 4.5-5%. UpNest itself states that its average total commission is 5.2%. In comparison, the nationwide average is 5.45%.
Here’s how the savings on a $400,000 house look with UpNest’s 5.2% compared to Clever’s 4%.
Buyer’s agent fee**
Total commission fee
*Assumes 2.2% listing fee
**Assumes a 3% buyer’s agent fee
***Compared to 5.45% commission fee
If you sold a $400,000 home with an UpNest agent, you’d be on the hook for approximately $20,800 in realtor fees at closing, based on UpNest’s average commission fee of 5.2%. That’ll save you about $1,000 compared with finding an agent on your own.
In contrast, Clever offers the exact same advantages — free, data-driven referrals for top-rated, full-service local agents — but with the added benefit of a pre-negotiated 1% listing fee or $3,000 if the home sells for less than $350,000.
Using the same $400,000 home sale example, working with Clever instead of UpNest would save you approximately $5,800 — or nearly six times as much as what you’d likely save with UpNest.
Why UpNest’s seller savings are limited
Unlike other agent matching services, agents on UpNest bid for your business. In theory, this should drum up competition so agents lower their commission fees to get your business.
However, agents on UpNest can't see one another’s proposals, so they will go only as low as they think is necessary to make a compelling pitch.
This can be a problem for sellers and buyers in competitive markets — agents in these areas know their services are in high demand, which limits the amount of savings they're willing to offer.
Because UpNest doesn’t pre-negotiate rates on your behalf, the commission fees you pay will vary on a case-by-case basis. In our experience, the savings we got through UpNest were minimal compared to a standard, full-priced agent.
🚨 Be wary of “savings
Some UpNest partner agents offer “discounted” buyer’s agent fees of 2-2.5% compared to the average 2.5-3%. This discount is misleading because the buyer’s agent fee you offer is always negotiable and up to you — not the agent. You can offer a lower buyer’s agent commission regardless of whether you choose an agent through UpNest or on your own.
But beware: When you lower the buyer’s agent fee too much, you risk taking away an agent's incentive to show your house to potential buyers, which could make it difficult to sell your home.
Any good agent will recommend the lowest rate you can offer and still be competitive. Don’t be fooled by marketing math — focus on the listing fee when comparing savings.
This is why you should be suspicious of any savings that UpNest promises, such as with its savings calculators. Often these savings are based in part on paying a lower buyer’s agent commission. Since you set the buyer’s agent commission, the most important figure you should focus on is the listing fee.
Does UpNest offer savings for buyers?
Many agents on UpNest include a “home buyer rebate,” usually of around 0.3-0.75% of the sale price. With a rebate, the agent shares a portion of their commission with the buyer.
This rebate comes with restrictions, however: It is usually issued as a credit that can only be spent in specific ways, such as on closing costs, and it often requires lender approval.
A better alternative to a buyer rebate is a cash back reward, such as Clever Cash Back. With Clever Cash Back, eligible buyers get 0.5% of the purchase price back after closing.
Clever Cash Back, like a home buyer rebate, is only available in 41 states. But unlike a rebate, it typically doesn’t require lender approval and you can spend the money however you want.
UpNest buyer rebate
Clever Cash Back
0.3-0.75% of the sale price
0.5% of the sale price
Available in 41 states*
Available in 41 states*
Issued as credits that can only be used in certain ways, such as on closing costs
Issued as a check that can be spent however you like
Requires lender approval
Doesn’t require lender approval
Not guaranteed in full
Guaranteed in full on eligible purchases
*Not available in AK, IA, KS, LA, MS, OK, OR, and TN
How does UpNest make money?
When you buy or sell a home through an UpNest partner agent, UpNest takes a share of that agent’s commission. This is called a referral fee and it's how all agent matching services make money. Referral fees allow agent matching services to remain free for customers.
UpNest also generates income through a home loan service. However, don’t assume UpNest’s home loan program is best for you even if you do choose an UpNest partner agent. Just as you would with an agent, compare different financing options to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Why do agents work with companies like UpNest?
Agents spend a lot of time and money on marketing to attract new clients. This investment comes with some risk since, even when a client signs, there’s no guarantee they'll actually buy or sell a house with the agent's assistance. Agents only get paid when they close deals.
UpNest takes on a lot of the agent's burden of finding new clients. With UpNest, agents get a steady stream of clients, which helps them focus less on marketing and more on doing what they do best: helping people buy and sell homes.
As a result, agents make less on each individual client referred to them through UpNest, but because UpNest can help them increase their overall number of clients they can be profitable.
UpNest pros and cons
👍 Agent quality is usually high
Our team was usually impressed with the agents they were matched with. Most agents had plenty of past transactions in our area, even in small towns and rural areas where local experience can be harder to find at some other agent matching services.
The quality of the agents likely has to do with UpNest’s vetting standards. UpNest agents must meet certain performance criteria, such as:
- Having a current real estate license
- Being in the top 5% in terms of sales in their local area
- Having three years’ industry experience
- Closing at least six transactions in the past 12 months
While these standards are in line with many other agent matching services, that's not the whole story. UpNest seems to enforce them consistently. Some agent matching services do not.
However, no matter how good your agent matches look on paper, we recommend interviewing at least a few before making a decision. You should feel comfortable with your agent during what will likely be one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, and you can only adequately assess your comfort by talking to them directly.
👍 You’ll get multiple agent matches quickly
If you need to buy or sell quickly, UpNest is definitely faster than searching for an agent on your own. Usually we got 1-2 agent proposals instantly after signing up. We then got more sent to us after we spoke to an UpNest Advisor. In total, our team typically got 2-6 agent proposals.
For some customers, getting so many agents to choose from is a bit overwhelming. However, UpNest makes it easy to compare agents, so getting a lot of options is manageable. Many UpNest reviews indicate customers generally prefer having more agent matches.
Plus, getting multiple agents made us feel like we were able to better compare all of our options and choose the best agent for us.
👍 Customer dashboard makes it easy to compare agents
UpNest’s online customer dashboard is user friendly and makes it easy to compare your agent matches. Since you’ll get so many matches, it's important to have a dashboard that makes comparison shopping easy.
Through the dashboard, you’ll see important information about your recommended agents, including:
- Commission rate for sellers
- Refund rate for buyers
- Total sales in your area
- Years of experience
- Customer reviews
- Additional services, like home staging, open houses, professional photography, and printed fliers
You can also request a call from an agent or send them a message via the dashboard.
While most other agent matching services have a customer dashboard where you can see vital data about your agents, they don’t usually include as much information as UpNest does.
That said, while dashboards are convenient, they're not the most important factor — savings and agent quality are more important. It’s also a good idea to verify the accuracy of all of the info UpNest sends you.
👎 Customer service is lacking and inconsistent
In our experience, UpNest’s customer service was a mixed bag. Some reps we spoke to were extremely helpful and knowledgeable about UpNest’s process and agents. Others struggled with simple questions, such as explaining how realtor commission works.
Spotty customer service is never a good thing — but in this case, it could lead to major trouble if you run into any issues with your agent, like subpar service or a contract dispute, that you’d need UpNest to help resolve.
Unlike Clever and Ideal Agent, UpNest doesn’t require its advisors to have a real estate license or previous real estate experience. Legally, an advisor can only give real estate advice if they have an active real estate license.
So, because UpNest Advisors aren’t licensed,they can offer only limited help.
Plus, UpNest’s team is much harder to reach than reps at other agent matching services. UpNest is on the West Coast and their representatives don’t usually answer the phone until after 11 a.m. Eastern time. But even during Pacific time business hours, our team often had trouble getting through.
While its website does have a chat feature, when we used it UpNest rarely responded to our questions.
👎 Savings are minimal and overstated
While UpNest claims that its platform helps you save money, our experience shows that those savings are lackluster. Their average commission fee is 5.2%, which is only marginally lower than the nationwide average of 5.45%.
In theory, agents compete for your business, which should encourage them to offer lower rates. However, agents never actually see what other agents are offering, so there’s little possibility for a bidding war. Agents don’t want to lower their rates too much, since that means less money for them.
We’ve found the rates agents do offer on UpNest are usually the same or only slightly lower than the average rate. Most agents gave us a listing fee of between 2-2.5% compared to the nationwide average of 2.5-3%.
In a competitive market where agents know they’re in high demand, they’re unlikely to offer discounts that are much better than what you’ll get on your own.
While any savings are good, other agent matching services offer far more substantial discounts than UpNest.
UpNest reviews from real customers
In general, UpNest reviews online are positive, with an average rating of 4.6 across 2,934 total reviews. However, UpNest complaints reveal some common issues.
What customers like about UpNest
Most customer reviews seemed happy about UpNest’s service. Customers most commonly praised the quality of the agents and how fast and easy UpNest is to use.
"Top notch agents"
Agent quality was often a big focus of positive UpNest reviews, with many customers appreciative of their agents' experience.
This customer, for example, was happy to be matched with agents who all had a solid track record.
UpNest — unlike some agent matching services — vets agents to make sure they meet certain performance criteria. This helps ensure that agents you get matched with are top performers in terms of sales.
That said, while experience is crucial, don’t overlook the importance of interviewing at least 2-3 agents. Only by talking to an agent will you get a good idea of whether they’re the right fit for you.
"Quick to connect us to multiple realtors"
A lot of UpNest reviews praise the service for its speed and how customers get to choose from multiple agents.
This customer, for example, liked that he got to interview different agents and that he was able to lower his closing costs.
Other customers also highlighted the savings they netted through UpNest.
This customer, for example, was able to get a total realtor commission of 5%.
However, UpNest’s savings aren’t actually that impressive compared to what other agent matching services offer.
For example, the above customer’s 5% commission is only slightly below the national average of 5.45% — although the average can indeed be closer to 6% in some markets.
In contrast, the overall commission when you go with Clever is usually around 3.5-4%, which can save you a lot more money than you might with UpNest.
UpNest complaints from customers
UpNest complaints are rare, but they do happen. Most of the complaints we encountered had to do with the poor customer service, and a few customers were disappointed in the quality of their agents.
"No one communicates"
UpNest struggles with customer service. We sometimes had trouble getting in touch with a customer representative, even during business hours.
When we sent messages via their chat service, they sometimes didn't respond and when we tried calling we often couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone.
If you have an issue with your agent, getting UpNest to resolve it can be a problem, as this customer discovered.
This customer also had trouble making contact with UpNest.
The best agent matching services are easy to get in touch with and always follow up after you’ve been matched with an agent. UpNest's inconsistency about doing this is a red flag.
Good customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought at an agent matching company, as it can help you better understand the process and resolve problems with agents that may arise.
UpNest’s disappointing customer service could end up leaving you on your own if you find your agent isn’t a great fit. When dealing with something as significant as a house purchase or sale, that’s a big risk to take on.
"A lot of seller’s remorse"
While most customers whose reviews we found were happy with the agents UpNest matched them with, others were not.
This customer, for example, felt that her agent did a poor job of communicating with her and advocating for her best interests.
Every agent matching service has at least a few agents who fall short of the company’s standards, even services like UpNest that otherwise do a good job of screening agents.
That’s why you shouldn’t take UpNest’s word for granted when it recommends an agent. Always interview the agent first to ensure they're a good match for what you’re looking for, no matter how experienced they may be.
Top UpNest 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 is another agent matching service with nationwide coverage. Like UpNest, there's no upfront cost or fee to use Clever, and there's zero obligation to sign a contract or agreement. You can interview as many agents as you'd like or as is necessary to find the best match for your specific needs and circumstances.
However, Clever’s savings are far better than what you’re likely to get through UpNest. All Clever partner agents have agreed to offer significant commission rate discounts. In fact, of all the agent matching companies like UpNest, Clever offers the lowest commission fees.
If you’re selling, you’ll get full service and support for a flat fee of $3,000, or just 1% if the home sells for more than $350,000. That’s half the 2-2.5% you’re likely to get through UpNest.
If you’re buying, you can get on-demand showings and Clever Cash Back in qualifying states. If you buy a home over $150,000, you might be eligible for 0.5% of the purchase price back after closing.
💲 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 April 2, 2021, HomeLight has an average customer rating of 4.7 across 1,119 reviews on Google, Sitejabber, and the Better Business Bureau.
Like UpNest, HomeLight matches you with an agent quickly, has a good customer dashboard, and lets you choose from multiple agents.
But HomeLight has a much larger network, with over 70,000 agents compared with UpNest’s 14,000. That means you can reliably find a good agent almost anywhere you are.
That being said, HomeLight doesn’t offer any discounts, so you’ll pay more for an agent through them than you would through another service with built-in savings, like Clever or Ideal Agent.
» MORE: Read the full HomeLight review
3. Ideal Agent
💲 Listing Fee
2% ($3k minimum fee)
💰 Buyer Savings
⚡ Avg. Customer Rating
Ideal Agent can match you with a local realtor who sells a lot of homes. But although it pre-negotiates discounted listing fees, you can save twice as much with competitors like Clever.
- Agents in network must meet strict quality standards
- Pre-negotiated listing fees of 2% (or $3k for homes under $150,000)
- 2% listing fee is less than the national average, but it's not the best rate out there
- No built-in savings for buyers
- Only matches you with a single agent
As of April 2, 2021, Ideal Agent has an average customer rating of 4.9, based on 2,010 reviews across Google and Trustpilot.
Ideal Agent is another agent matching network that, like UpNest, generally does a good job of matching you with top agents.
While Ideal Agent’s online dashboard isn’t as user friendly as UpNest’s, their customer service is highly professional and responsive. UpNest’s customer service, on the other hand, is often inconsistent and inadequate.
Plus, Ideal Agent pre-negotiates a discounted listing fee of 2% with sellers’ agents, which is a bit lower than what you might get through UpNest. However, that rate is still short of what other services offer, like Clever.
» MORE: Read the full Ideal Agent review
How does UpNest work for real estate agents?
UpNest can be a source of new customer leads to help grow your business. Since it's one of the most popular agent matching services, it generates a large amount of traffic from potential buyers and sellers.
Like most agent matching services, UpNest charges no upfront fees. You’ll only pay a referral fee after you close a deal with any client UpNest refers to you.
However, unlike some agent matching services, UpNest does have minimum requirements for agents who want to join its network.
Plus, while it sometimes does a good job of screening customer leads, at other times it doesn’t, so it may not be suitable for all agents.
Do agents pay to be on UpNest?
UpNest doesn’t charge any upfront costs or subscription fees. Instead, you will have to pay UpNest a referral fee every time you close a transaction with an UpNest client.
UpNest’s referral fees are 30% for the listing agent and 15% for the buyer’s agent.
Also, while you are not required to lower your commission rate on UpNest, it's highly encouraged since the service is marketed as a place where customers can compare different agent rates.
Most agents we’ve encountered on the platform offer a listing fee of between 2-2.5% and a buyer’s agent commission of 2.5%. This means you’ll often pay a referral fee on what could already be a smaller commission than you’re used to.
How do you become an UpNest agent?
UpNest has the following requirements to join their agent network and start getting leads:
- A current real estate license in good standing
- Closed at least six transactions in the past 12 months
- A minimum of three years of industry experience
- Proven expertise in the local housing market
- Positive customer reviews
- Great communication skills
- An understanding of online marketing techniques and strategies
- Strong online presence (i.e., a Zillow or Realtor.com profile)
After signing up, UpNest also requires agents to respond to referrals within eight hours or to let UpNest know if they cannot. It warns that agents who fail to respond to referrals within that time frame may have their referrals assigned to another agent.
How good are UpNest leads?
UpNest claims it pre-screens customers, although the level of vetting varies from one customer to another.
Often when we mystery shopped UpNest as a home seller, we were instantly matched with an agent before even talking to an UpNest representative. In those cases, we experienced very little pre-screening.
However, we usually soon received a phone call from an UpNest Advisor who asked more detailed questions about what we were looking for in an agent. After this phone call, we were sent additional agents who were more aligned with our criteria.
The point is that some UpNest leads may be properly vetted, others less so. UpNest can be a decent source for new leads, but be aware that other agent matching services, such as Ideal Agent and Clever, do a much better job of vetting leads before sending them onto agents.
A better vetting process means you’re less likely to waste your time with leads that aren’t serious and more time with those who are more likely to close.