There are two million agents in the United States to sell six million homes. Adding to that two million, are over 80,000 new real estate agents joined the field in 2021. With so many agents competing for your business, it can feel very overwhelming to search for an agent online. Which is precisely why companies like Dave Ramsey LP, Homelight, Upnest, Sold.com and more created a business model to profit from this issue.
Over the past few weeks, we have researched multiple programs, as well as completed the sign up process with two of the biggest platforms.. Below is what we learned, and what you should know before you sign up to use one of these services.
1. You could diminish your opportunity to negotiate commission savings
While these best agent platforms promote themselves as a free service, they have an agreement in advance with agents. The agreement is typically that the agent you “match with” will give the website 25% to 35% of the commission they earn from your sale. At times, these platforms can end up making more money than your actual real estate agent.
Remember that commissions are always negotiable, but how much are you going to be able to negotiate with your agent if they are already paying Dave Ramsey or Homelight $2,000 to $3,000 for your information.
In the industry, this is called “pay to play.” You could be the best agent in the city, but if you are willing to give up 25% to 35% of your commission to the platform, you won’t be included in their “best agent” list.
we found this "pay to play" wording today on sold.com’s website claiming they are do not do "pay to play."
Yet on the very next page, it states that when you close with the agent they match you with, that agent will pay sold.com a standard referral fee (which could be around 25% of commission your agent earns from your sale).
2. Get ready for solicitations!
These platforms require you to enter your email and verified phone number. You can not access agent information on their platform without submitting that specific information. Of the two platforms that we tested, we received an average of four phone calls
and four emails from agents
within the first 10 minutes of submitting our information. Even after responding and asking each agent to not contact us again, we still received a few emails. Of those two platforms we tested, both do not give you an easy way to unsubscribe or de-activate your account.
Editors note: if you do use these platforms, create a separate email and a google voice number to protect your personal information.
3. Most do not have a searchable database for consumers
These platforms claim to work with the top 5% to 10% of agents in your area, yet when you sign up, you are only shown two or three agents. Not letting you search on your own, in our opinion, is on purpose so that it’s easier for the platform to know who you use. Remember, these platforms get paid when the agent closes with you, so they have to follow your contact with the agent to ensure they get their cut of the commission.
4. What you see if not always what you get
Not only did we get calls from the three agents we matched with, but we also got phone calls from other agents that we did not match with nor given any information about. When doing our own research, the non-matched agents that called us had less than a year of experience.
Three of the agents that we matched with were a lead of a group team. This means that although we were shown this agent’s profile and successes, we could spend most of our time working with agents underneath them that have less experience.
Of the two platforms we tested, the only questions that were asked to us before matching with agents was area of interest and price range. That’s it! So, how do they know if you are a perfect match with an agent based on just those two things?
Two agents that we “matched” with have not sold or bought in the area that we said we wanted to purchase within.
To help combat these platforms, Selling Later is currently building an accesible and searchable database for consumer to search for what they need from a real estate agent, as well as other service providers. This database will be available to the general public without you having to share your information and without referral fees and pay to play systems. If you are a real estate agent or other service provider, you can fill out this form to be included in our database.
If you are looking for savings, we recommend using HomeOpenly. They are an independent platform and do not take referral fees, which means that all of the savings are passed on to you.