Using either a Redfin agent or a conventional realtor has pros and cons when selling and buying a home. Choose Redfin if you want to save money on commission but get a less personalized experience. But go with a conventional realtor if you want the traditional, hands-on real estate experience with one-on-one attention.
We’ll cover the differences between working with Redfin agents versus conventional realtors from traditional brokerages. We’ll also offer tips for researching better alternatives you might want to consider.
Bottom line: Interview Redfin agents and conventional agents
You’ll be much happier with your final choice if you first compare what’s out there first. So, why not meet with some Redfin agents and interview a few conventional realtors to get started?
With Redfin, you know you’ll get lower rates than you would from a conventional realtor through Redfin’s 1.5% listing fee on most homes. So, concentrate on the service and support offerings and on whether you have a good rapport with any of their agents. Then, compare that to what the conventional agents you talk to are bringing to the table at higher prices.
Keep in mind that traditional agents might be able to sell your home for a higher price through more hands-on support, which could more than make up for any commission savings you’d get from Redfin.
Redfin vs. conventional realtors: What’s the difference?
You work one-on-one with a single conventional realtor, while Redfin serves you through a less personal, tech-driven, and team-based approach.
Redfin’s 1.5% listing fees save more than a conventional agent’s 2.5–3% standard rate. You may get a traditional agent to agree to a slightly smaller commission than the standard, but don’t count on it. You should also know that Clever Real Estate offers the same 1.5% listing fee as Redfin — but you'll get matched with local realtors from well-known brokerages like Century 21 and RE/MAX.
There’s no guarantee of a rebate from a conventional buyer agent (unless you negotiate with your realtor), while Redfin offers small rebates with limited uses to some buyers. However, eligible buyers who work with Clever can receive Clever Cash Back a few weeks after closing.
There’s not much difference in service offerings between a Redfin agent and a traditional realtor, although a traditional realtor will be more personally involved in your home sale or search.
You’ll find the good, the bad, and the neutral at Redfin and at its more traditional counterparts. To help narrow the field to top-tier conventional agents, try a matching service with strict vetting standards, like Clever or UpNest.
Selling a home with Redfin vs. conventional realtor
Redfin: Salaried agents
Redfin agents work for a salary, and they can earn bonuses for hitting specific metrics. Unfortunately, that doesn’t provide the same incentive to help sell your home for more money that a commission-based income does. Redfin agents are more incentivized by volume, so the more homes they can sell, the better. That’s not to say they aren’t working hard for their clients, but it will mean that you won’t get the same personalized dedication that you’ll get with a local, commission-based agent.
Conventional realtor: Commission-based agent compensation
Conventional listing agents earn their income 100% from commission. So, they get paid only when they sell their client’s home. That usually translates to some very dedicated service, and they’re motivated to make time for you when you need it.
That commission structure also encourages conventional selling agents to negotiate the best possible price for your house because your home price determines how much money they make on the deal. Plus, a timely sale gets them paid faster and lets them move on to the next transaction. So, setting a realistic listing price, helping you stage and show, aggressively marketing your home, and negotiating the best deal serves you both.
Redfin vs. realtor pricing
Seller agent commission cost
Our pick: Clever Real Estate
*based on $500,000 home sale
You’ll pay 1.5% of your purchase price to your Redfin seller’s agent or an average of 2.5–3% to a conventional listing realtor. But sellers in expensive housing markets need to check Redfin’s commission disclosures for minimum listing fees that may exceed the 1.5% rate. Clever listing agents also charge a low 1.5% listing fee for an in-person, hands-on experience.
Seller services and support
Full-service brokerages, including Redfin, offer most, if not all, of the services you’ll get with a traditional realtor. Redfin has a tech-savvy approach to real estate sales. So, that’s a plus for the homeowner who enjoys taking care of things online. Be wary of their concierge service, though. It boosts your listing fee to 2.5%, and there’s lots of fine print to comb through. The Redfin agent I met with pushed it hard, and I’ve already poured a lot of renovation money into my house.
Redfin listing services
What you get
Redfin Premier ($1M+ homes)
One thing to consider is that all of these selling functions require skill, knowledge, and experience. Here the conventional agent route may be more effective. You can hand-pick a realtor who demonstrates that they possess all those essential qualities.
That’s trickier with Redfin since many agents are just starting out. Even if you find an agent with an impressive resume in your area, there’s no guarantee you’ll work with them exclusively. Redfin applies a team-centric approach to helping its clients. So, you can end up with a mixed bag of experience levels as your home sale is passed through several agents.
Buying a home with a Redfin agent vs. a realtor
Bear in mind that buying a home in a seller’s market can be stressful and demoralizing. As a result, you may want and need some hand holding. That situation will likely give a conventional realtor the edge over Redfin’s less personal, team-based model. Still, personal preference will probably be the determining factor.
Buying with a conventional realtor
Like conventional listing agents, buyer’s agents also work for commission. So, they have the same strong commission-sales-based motivation.
Conventional buyer’s agents take their cut from the purchase price. That may encourage some traditional realtors to show you more houses on the pricier end of your scale. However, their drive to make that sale can lead to more showings, greater responsiveness, and innovative solutions to finding an available home you’ll love and making it work with your budget.
Buying with a salaried Redfin property search agent
When you choose Redfin for home purchasing services, your agents earn salaries and bonuses. They’re rewarded for completed home sales, but their income isn’t solely dependent on the final purchase price. So, their motivation to find you a home may not be as fierce, but neither is their incentive to show you costlier options.
Savings for home buyers
As a buyer, you neither set nor pay your agent’s commission. That means any savings you enjoy must come from another source. Some brokerages help meet that goal through programs where realtors agree to part with a small percentage of their commission to deliver a buyer rebate.
» FULL GUIDE: Which home buyer rebates get you the most money?
Redfin has a rebate program, paying an average of 0.22% of the purchase price. Buyers usually have to apply that rebate to closing costs rather than spend the money on what they want. There’s no guarantee, and it’s subject to lender approval. Also, like all buyer rebate programs, it’s not legal in every state.
Although Redfin’s buyer rebate program will certainly save you money, it’s not the only option available. Eligible buyers who work with Clever Real Estate can also receive cash back after closing. Learn more about Clever Cash Back.
Services and support
Buyer’s agents search for homes their clients will like and can afford. They put in winning bids and navigate successful closings. Many of them also help buyers secure mortgage funding. When it’s a seller’s market, those agents must work overtime to beat the competition. Many of them come up with unique strategies to help your offer win.
You probably won’t see any striking differences between those service offerings from Redfin vs. a conventional agent since both options are full-service brokerages. But there may be some inequalities in the level of support they offer. Redfin is a transactional volume business. That often translates to busy agents with limited time for each client.
We should also mention that the Redfin platform is an excellent resource for researching homes available for sale, but you don’t have to use a Redfin agent to take advantage of the platform.
Quick summary: Redfin vs. realtor
- Agent quality differs, so interview Redfin agents, conventional agents, and Clever agents to find the best fit.
- Redfin service isn’t available nationwide. Conventional agents and Clever Real Estate agents are.
- Conventional agents work for a percentage-based commission, while Redfin pays their agents a salary. This means conventional realtors typically deliver more personalized service with one-on-one attention.
- The Redfin process is more tech-driven and remote than the conventional method.
- Redfin’s base listing fee is 1.5% vs. the standard conventional agent fee of 2.5–3%. You'll save the same amount by working with Clever Real Estate (1.5% listing fee).
- Redfin offers some buyers a limited rebate averaging 0.22%.
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