Is this Discount Real Estate Service Right for You?
When it comes time to sell your house you probably have a lot of questions. How much is my home worth? How quickly can I sell? And, where do I find a good Realtor®? An Internet search will give you a bewildering array of options, including a company called Redfin.
Redfin is one of the largest discount real estate brokerages in the country. Their agents accept a discounted listing fee, or charge a lower fee if you’re buying with them. They also offer other services — such as helping you find a mortgage lender, or arranging upgrades and repairs before you sell.
Many homeowners and buyers find themselves on their website when searching real estate listings, or trying to figure out what their home is worth. Their free automated valuation model (AVM) almost instantly estimates your home’s worth based on recent comparable sales in your area. But if you decide to work with one of their agents — what do you get for paying a lower commission?
Find out more about Redfin’s quality and services in this in-depth review.
What is Redfin?
Redfin is a website where home buyers and sellers can search local real estate listings and get connected with local agents. Redfin works with agents who are willing to charge sellers a discounted listing fee of 1.5%, instead of the traditional 2.5%-3%. If you buy with Redfin, the company says you only pay a 1% fee.
In November 2022, amid a softening real estate market, Redfin announced the winding down of its iBuyer business, RedfinNow.
How does Redfin work for home sellers?
For most Americans, their home is their largest asset. When it comes time to sell, they want to maximize their profit, and one way to do this is to pay an agent a lower commission. Redfin capitalizes on this desire by matching sellers to low commission agents.
The Redfin Full Service option puts sellers in touch with local agents who charge a 1% listing fee, instead of the national average of 3%. When you list with one of their agents, your listing gets premium placement on their site.
The listing fees are also subject to minimums, which vary by market. Before you assume that they’ll save you money, look at how their minimums compare to home prices and commissions in your area.
Their Concierge service — only available in select cities — fixes up your home, managing local vendors, based on high-value improvements for your local market. Redfin covers staging and cleaning, and states that “you only pay for the improvements you select once your home sells” plus a 2% listing fee.
Having someone else manage upgrades and repairs so that you can list for top dollar can take a lot of work off your shoulders. The Concierge service could be a helpful option for some home sellers, especially if you are dealing with an inherited property at a distant location.
Redfin’s Open Book service connects home sellers with local contractors, cleaning services, handymen, and stagers in their affiliate network. You can narrow down your search by reading reviews left by users and agents. Numerous other companies offer similar matching services, such as HomeAdviser, Fixr, Thumbtack, and Angi.
How does Redfin work for homebuyers?
In a hot market, jumping on a new property can help you find your dream home. Redfin updates its MLS listings every five minutes, unlike other services that can take several hours to days to pull in new listings. If they’re working with a Redfin agent, homebuyers can tour homes on demand, either in-person or via video chat.
While their agents will accept a 1% buyer’s agent fee, buyers don’t usually have to worry about commissions. When you buy a home, the seller typically pays the commission. However, an offer on a house with a lower buyer’s agent commission — which means the seller keeps more money in their pocket — could be more competitive. Redfin says it will also put money toward your closing costs, but a set amount or percentage does not appear to be listed on their website. It may vary depending on the transaction.
Redfin also offers the “Redfin Refund” to buyers, which is a commission rebate. If you qualify, Redfin rebates a portion of the buyer’s agent commission — which, according to their website, is an average of $1,500 nationwide. The refund is subject to a long list of conditions, and is prohibited in 19 different states and cities. It also requires lender approval.
If you plan on using a Redfin buyer’s agent to receive the refund, check with your lender and the agent to make sure you qualify.
Does Redfin serve your area?
Redfin matches home sellers with agents nationwide and in parts of Canada. A zip code search will tell you if they have agents near you.
Is there a cost to use Redfin?
The only cost to sellers is the commission they pay, similar to any other real estate transaction. If you use their Concierge service, you’ll pay for home repairs and a higher listing fee. Signing up to track real estate listings through their website, or requesting agent matches, is free.
How does Redfin make money?
Redfin has several revenue streams, all related to the real estate industry. Because they’re a public company there is a lot of data available on how they make their money.
Redfin agents are salaried, which is unusual for the industry, and work in teams. They are paid a base salary and transaction bonuses. The 1% commission actually goes to Redfin, covering their costs, profit, and agent salaries.
Agents can partner with Redfin to receive referrals rather than becoming an employee. If they close a transaction through a Redfin referral, they pay Redfin a 30% commission. Partner revenue consisted of $54.0 million in 2021.
The concierge service provides more revenues, but it’s unclear if they charge contractors for referrals. They also receive commissions for mortgage referrals.
Reviews of Redfin
To truly know what it’s like to use Redfin’s services, look to people’s real-life experiences. Online reviews can provide insight into actual clients’ experiences with the service, but keep in mind that since Redfin has different agents in each area, your experience could vary*.
Reviewers leaving negative comments on the BBB site are primarily unhappy with Redfin’s agents. Complaints range from poor communication to false promises about leaseback periods, lost money due to improperly priced homes, and missed appointments. A few reviewers use adjectives like “horrible” and “inept.” Redfin responds politely to all complaints and volunteers to speak to individuals, but further comments indicate that some reviewers didn’t receive responses to their emails. There are also numerous positive reviews praising individual Redfin agents. As noted above, with so many agents in different areas, your experience may be different.
Consumer Affairs: Redfin has 3.7 out of 5 stars, with 243 ratings
Redfin has the best reviews on Consumer Affairs, however, many of the reviews are related to the website’s data and listing information. Reviewers say that information is complete and easy to find, and the app is intuitive. “I like the ability to select how I get the listings and specifics of each home,” a reviewer from Newbury Park, California wrote.
Reviewers who actually worked with a Redfin agent are less complimentary. They describe some agents as “dishonest,” “pushy”, and “unprofessional.” Reviewers said their agents pressured them to make offers that were higher than market value, or didn’t show up for appointments. Complaints of this nature can arise for any company with a large network of salaried sales representatives.
*Customer reviews notes as of May 3, 2022
Pros and cons of using Redfin
What are the pros and cons of using Redfin?
Pro: Keep more money from your home sale
When you sell with a low commission agent, you’ll spend less money on agent fees which could mean more money in your pocket, depending on how the agent performs. Redfin cites that their sellers save thousands of dollars.
Con: Make less money overall
One drawback to working with a low commission agent is that you could make less, overall, on your home sale.
Redfin agents are salaried, which has its benefits and drawbacks. Agents who work on commission typically have more motivation to get you top dollar for your home. As well, with a lower commission structure, the company makes its money in volume — its motivation is to close sales quickly.
Many customer complaints on review sites expressed concerns that the seller could have made more with a different agent.
Pro: Working with a team can give you access to more resources
Many independent agents also work in teams. By pooling resources with other agents and brokers, they can build a better network of contractors, home inspectors, and mortgage brokers. With multiple people to field phone calls and arrange requested repairs after a home inspection, the process of selling could go smoother.
Con: Working with a team may cause issues
Since Redfin agents work in teams and with independent contractors who take care of showings and open houses, you’ll be talking to several individuals. And it’s understandable to wonder if some of the customer complaints about no-shows and unprofessionalism are because contractors, not Redfin agents, were handling an appointment or showing.
Pro: The majority of the transaction goes through their online sales platform
If you want to be hands-on with your home sale, and manage much of it yourself, you may like working with their sales platform. Redfin agents aren’t super hands-on, and they manage the sale largely through their online seller dashboard. If you have a simple, straightforward home sale, you may appreciate this.
Con: Lack of personalized service
The flipside to their reliance on technology to manage the sale is that you could grow frustrated with sparse communication. You may not want to manage the sale yourself, and if you have complicated negotiations, multiple buyer requests for repairs, or other considerations outside the norm, the tech-first approach may not be right for your sale.
Alternatives to Redfin
If you’re looking for an agent to help you sell or buy a home, there are alternatives to Redfin.
All of these services match you with agents in their network, and you’ll likely have a dedicated agent (rather than a team that could consist of independent contractors). Some, like Clever Real Estate and Ideal Agent, also match you with agents who accept lower commissions. Zillow competes directly against Redfin by presenting home sales data and MLS listings, and agents pay to join their network and receive referrals.
How do HomeLight’s seller and buyer services work?
HomeLight can also match you with a local, experienced agent.
After answering a few questions through our Agent Match tool, you’ll receive the names and contact information of several proven agents in your area. Unlike Redfin’s service, you can pick from a list of potential matches. You can interview several top professionals to find the best personality fit and match, and with over 28,000 agents in our network, you’re sure to find the one.
Several customer complaints stated that if Redfin matched them with an agent that they didn’t like, or didn’t think would be a good fit, they had a hard time getting a different agent. They had to call and request a different team, and couldn’t always get it switched. HomeLight Agent Match doesn’t lock you into one agent or team, it gives you more choices and lets you pick.
HomeLight Simple Sale connects sellers with cash buyers. Our network of buyers will give you a full cash offer for your home, and you can avoid paying agent fees and pick your close date.
Other services and tools offered by HomeLight
HomeLight offers additional services similar to Redfin, as well as more tools for home sellers.
- HomeLight Home Loans: Redfin connects you with mortgage companies that pay a commission to Redfin for your business, which provides no guarantees about service, and rates and fees can vary. With HomeLight Home Loans you’re working with us directly. You’ll have a dedicated loan officer who can see you through to a 21-day close, competitive fees, and an earnest money guarantee.
- HomeLight Trade-In: In a hot market, it’s hard to shop for a new house when you have a sales contingency in your offer. HomeLight Trade-In takes care of that problem — you get a guaranteed offer on your home, and when you find your new home we buy your existing house. You can then use your equity for a down payment on your new home and after you move out, we’ll sell your old home. You keep any profit above our guaranteed offer.
- HomeLight Cash Offer: If you’ve found your dream home, but haven’t sold your current home or need to make a strong offer to win it, HomeLight Cash Offer can help. We make a cash offer on the house on your behalf, then turn around and sell it back to you.
* Some services are not available in all states
Additional tools and resources
- Home Value Estimator: Curious about how much your home is worth? Our home value estimator analyzes up-to-date sales information for comparable properties to return a ballpark estimate.
- Agent Commissions Calculator: How much will you pay in commission when you sell your home? Our commissions calculator will help you figure that out.
- Home Affordability Calculator: How much house can you afford? After answering a few basic questions about income and expenses, our calculator’s result will help you set your home-shopping budget.
- Best Time to Sell Calculator: If you’re looking for a discount Realtor®, you probably want to maximize your profit from your home sale. The best time to sell calculator analyzes sales data from your market to determine the best time for you to list your home.
Frequently Asked Questions about Redfin
Here’s a quick run-down on frequently asked questions about Redfin.
Is Redfin a legitimate company?
Yes. Redfin is a publicly-traded company that has been in business since 2004.
Does Redfin have hidden fees?
Redfin doesn’t have hidden fees, but with any real estate service, you should read the fine print carefully. Watch out for commission minimums in your area. If you’re using their Concierge service, get clarification on the cost of repairs. Like any financial transaction, pay attention to the details.
Do other agents like Redfin?
Other agents sometimes don’t like doing business with Redfin agents — they complain online that it’s difficult to negotiate, communication can be sparse, and deals can fall through because the Redfin agent isn’t on top of their responsibilities. But as with any company that works with a large network of professionals, agent experiences can vary.
What is Redfin’s commission?
Listing agents charge a 1% listing fee, a 1% buyer’s agent fee, and a 2% fee for their Concierge service.
Like HomeLight, Redfin offers valuable, time-saving services
Redfin offers valuable services and the opportunity to save money when selling your house. They are a legitimate company with plenty of satisfied customers. It can be hard to figure out what they’ll charge, where you’ll save money, and the quality of service you’ll receive. It’s documented that many reviewers say they regret using them for their home sale. But as with any service business, satisfied customers may not be as motivated to post reviews.
If you’re looking for a top-rated agent, and a smooth process, consider using one of HomeLight’s proven network agents. They have the experience and market expertise you need to get the best price for your home, and will offer hands-on, dedicated service.
Header Image Source: (Frankie / Unsplash)