Finding a good real estate agent can feel like finding a needle in an ever-shifting haystack — you’ll know it when you find it, but where to begin? There are several websites that offer to match homeowners and buyers with great agents. Clever Real Estate is an agent referral website with a different slant — they provide matches with agents who’ll accept a lower commission or flat fee.
Saving money when you sell or buy a home is a common goal. With a typical seller’s agent, you’d pay 3% — if you only paid 1% when selling a $250,000 home, you’d save $5,000. But, what results can you expect from a discount commission agent?
If you’re considering working with one of Clever Real Estate’s agents — or any discount agent — here’s some helpful information.
What is Clever Real Estate?
Clever Real Estate (listwithclever.com) is a website that matches homeowners and buyers with agents willing to accept a lower commission. You can list your home for sale for a 1% commission or a $3,000 flat fee (depending on your market). This compares to the nationwide average of a 3% seller’s or buyer’s agent commission.
Even though their agents accept lower commissions, Clever stresses that they aren’t traditional “discount” agents and are high performers. Agents must meet certain standards to join their network, including:
- A full-time, licensed agent
- Over five years experience as a licensed agent
- Great reviews from past sellers
- Extensive local market knowledge
- Great negotiators
- Comfortable with using technology
Clever Real Estate, which also operates realestatewitch.com, doesn’t list specific performance requirements on their list of agent criteria — such as the number of homes sold in the last year, average times to close, or the number of positive reviews they’ve received.
However, Clever does tell prospective agents that the company does not allow agents to pay them for sales leads. Their stated goal is “to send the best possible agents to our buyers and sellers” and that the best way to get more leads from Clever is to earn great reviews.
How does Clever Real Estate work for home sellers?
The agent’s commission is often the biggest expense for home sellers. Sellers are responsible for paying both the seller’s and the buyer’s agent’s commission — typically 6%, split in half between both agents. While Clever can’t guarantee that you’ll have a discount agent on the other side of the transaction, they can save you up to 2% on the sell side.
If your home sells for less than $350,000, you’ll pay just a 1% fee. If it sells for less than that, they charge a $3,000 flat fee.
How can that save you money?
Let’s say your home sells for $400,000. If your listing agent charged the usual 3%, you’d pay them a $12,000 commission on the sale. With Clever Real Estate’s 1% fee, you’d only pay $4,000, saving you $8,000.
Of course, the savings and value of how this service works for home sellers can oscillate on whether the discount agent is able to sell your home for top dollar compared to a full-commission agent.
How does Clever Real Estate work for homebuyers?
If you’re in the market for a new home, you can still save money with Clever. To attract buyers, they offer buyer rebates. Their agents have agreed to give you a portion of their commission at the close of the sale.
Clever offers “Clever Cash Back,” which cuts you a check for 0.5% of the purchase price at closing. This could put several thousand dollars back in your pocket, but it’s only legal in 42 states and not all lenders will allow it. Sometimes, the rebate comes in the form of a closing credit.
Before you count on Clever Cash Back or any rebate program, it’s a good idea to read the fine print, talk to a lender, and check with the agents in your area.
Does Clever Real Estate serve your area?
Clever operates nationwide, and in most major metro areas, as well as some smaller and rural areas. According to their website, they have 12,000 agents in their network. If they don’t operate in your area yet, you can contact them and they’ll try to find an agent and negotiate a discount on your behalf.
Is there a cost to use Clever Real Estate?
There’s no cost to fill out their questionnaire and get matched with one of their agents. After receiving their suggestions, you can interview the agent and see if they’d be a good fit. The cost to use Clever comes when you pay the agent their commission or flat fee.
How does Clever Real Estate make money?
Clever Real Estate is what’s known in the real estate market as a lead generation site. But agents who join their network cannot pay for leads. Instead, agents give Clever a portion of the home’s selling price in the form of a referral fee after they successfully help a client buy or sell a home. Clever makes its money off those agents’ network fees.
Unlike other competitors, Clever has no other services. They focus entirely on matching individuals with agents, and it’s their only revenue stream.
Clever Real Estate reviews
What’s it like to work with an agent in Clever’s network? Online reviewers aren’t shy about sharing their opinions — both positive and negative — which can provide some insights. Keep in mind that since agent quality and experience can vary widely, the level of service you receive may be different. It’s a good idea to research additional reviews yourself before using any real estate service.
Trustpilot — Clever Real Estate has 4.9 out of 5 stars, with over 1,500 reviews
Clever Real Estate has a high rating on Trustpilot, with reviewers praising the service and professionalism of the agent they met through the network. Others say that the process was fast and easy, their agent high quality, and call out the thousands of dollars saved in fees. Clever Real Estate responds with thanks to positive reviews.
Negative reviews say that they were sent an agent that charged more than the 1%, or that the agent did a poor job of representing their home. Others believe they might have received higher offers with a different agent. Clever responds professionally to all complaints.
Better Business Bureau — Clever Real Estate has 3.67 out of 5 stars, with six reviews and an A+ BBB rating
Positive reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website note that their agent knew the market, was professional, and saved them money. Negative reviews were unhappy with the level of communication from the agent and the company, or with the buyer concessions their agent suggested.
Pros and cons of using Clever Real Estate
What are the pros and cons of using Clever Real Estate? Here are some benefits and drawbacks of using a discount agent.
Pro: Save money on your home sale or purchase
As illustrated above, saving a few percentage points on commission can result in thousands more dollars in your pocket. For home sellers, this is money they can use to pay for movers or put down on a new home. Homebuyers might like the extra cash for new furniture, or to build up their savings account after paying a down payment.
Pro: Get a buyer’s rebate
Buying a home is expensive. The down payment is often a large sum of money, but there are moving costs, and often some small repairs you need to do right away. Clever Cash Back — if you’re able to receive it as cash and not a credit at closing — could be a big help.
Con: Could lose money by not getting top dollar for your house
Some of the concerns cited in reviews were posted by customers who felt their agents did a poor job of representing their homes or were unhappy with the level of communication they received. Results can vary depending on the agent. If you research and hire a proven agent in your area, you may be able to get more for your home. Top-performing, full-time agents typically have a wide network of buyers and effective negotiation skills. What you save in fees with a discount agent, you might lose in the final sale price. But it should be noted, there are many positive reviews about Clever agents as well.
Alternatives to Clever Real Estate
There are numerous real estate company websites that provide agent referrals — some for discount agents, others for full-commission but top agents in your area.
These companies can offer valuable services that use real estate transaction data and algorithms to dramatically streamline the agent selection process — a process that used to rely on manual research, word of mouth, or luck. They’ll analyze the average time to close, how quickly an agent typically sells a house, and if their statistics beat their market’s averages.
However, not all agent matching companies offer the same level of service.
Full-commission top agent vs. a discount commission agent
An agent doesn’t just pocket their entire commission. They pay fees to a brokerage, office and paperwork fees, and fees to keep their license current. If an agent is accepting a lower commission, they’re making less money on each sale to cover those fees.
Some discount agents fill this gap by selling a larger volume of houses than full-commission agents. For home sellers, this can mean less attention paid to your home, less effort put into marketing it, and an agent who rushes to a deal instead of negotiating in your best interests.
You may save 1% or 2% on commissions with a discount commission service. But you also may get a higher selling price with an experienced top-performing, full-commission real estate agent. Based on internal HomeLight data for historical home sales, the top 5% of agents across the U.S. sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average agent. This can make a significant difference in your home sale proceeds.
For example, if you are selling a $400,000 home, you may save $4,000 with a 2% commission agent, but selling with a top agent in a network like HomeLight’s Agent Match, you could potentially earn an additional $40,000 on your home’s final sale price. Your results may vary, but there is wisdom in researching an agent’s actual performance results.
How does HomeLight’s Agent Match work?
HomeLight analyzes over 27 million real estate transactions and thousands of reviews to match you with a local, top agent. After answering a few questions through our Agent Match tool, we provide you with several agents’ names. You can pick from this list and interview several top professionals to find the best personality fit and match. With over 28,000 agents in our network, you’re sure to find someone to help.
Other services and tools offered by HomeLight
HomeLight offers other valuable tools for homebuyers and sellers.
- HomeLight Simple Sale: HomeLight provides a cash offer to buy your home, which allows you to skip repair costs, showings, and agent commissions.
- HomeLight Home Loans: Offers home loans managed by a dedicated loan officer who guides you through the process from start to finish. We don’t charge any lender or origination fees and we’re proud of our transparency. We give you the option of viewing estimated closing costs upfront so you aren’t hit with surprises.
- HomeLight Trade-In: Reduce the stress of buying and selling at the same time. We’ll work with you and your agent to make an offer on your current home, so you can make a strong offer on your new home and close and move on your schedule.
- HomeLight Cash Offer: HomeLight buys your dream home for cash, helping you win the home, then sells it back to you. Cash offers are four times more likely to prevail and can earn you a 5% savings, on average, compared to traditional offers with a loan.
* Some services like Trade-In, Home Loans, and Cash Offer are not available in all states
Additional tools and resources HomeLight offers
- Agent Commissions Calculator: If you’re curious how much you’ll pay an agent in your home sale, this calculator can estimate what to expect.
- Home Affordability Calculator: Home shopping and need to set a budget? After answering a few questions about your income and expenses, this calculator estimates how much home you can afford.
- Net Proceeds Calculator: This tool helps you estimate the cost of selling your home and the net proceeds you could earn from the sale.
- Best Time to Sell Calculator: Want to maximize your profit? The best time to sell calculator analyzes sales data in your neighborhood and tells you when you’re more likely to make the most money.
Frequently asked questions about Clever and using Realtors®
Just need some quick answers? We’ve got them for you.
Is Clever Real Estate legit?
Clever Real Estate is a legitimate company, founded in 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. The company holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The business is not publicly traded, and is funded by private investors.
Is Clever Real Estate really a 1% commission?
Yes and no. They charge a 1% commission for homes valued at more than $350,000, but under that and you’ll pay a flat fee of $3,000.
Can I try more than one agent matching service at a time?
Of course. Agent matching services typically collect your submitted information and may contact you until you ask to be removed, but charge no upfront fees. You’re welcome to submit your name and contact information to as many as you like and compare or research their agent recommendations.
How much does a top-rated real estate agent cost?
Even top-rated agents rarely, if ever, charge more than 3%. The best advice when it comes to cost is to compare an agent’s track record — such as their days on market (DOM) and list-to-sale price ratio — and measure the cost on what overall value you can receive in return.
Is it Clever to use Clever Real Estate? Research your options
Clever Real Estate matches home sellers and buyers with licensed agents. There is some vagueness about the performance qualifications required to join their agent network, but the company is legitimate and has many satisfied customers and positive reviews.
Whether you hire a low-commission or full-commission agent, it’s a good idea to interview them and thoroughly research their individual performance results and client reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask how they market your home, what typical buyer and seller concessions are offered in your area, and how they’ll work for you.
If you want to receive match suggestions for top-performing agents in your market, reach out through HomeLight’s Agent Match tool. Check the company reviews and testimonials. You might find that their answers and experience — how they’ll market your home and strategies to get you top dollar — may provide you with a better overall value than an average or discount agent.
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