Redfin vs. Realtor: Are the Savings Worth It?

Written by Elizabeth BoydSeptember 8th, 20229 minute read

Jump to section: Quick compare | Pricing and savings comparison | Selling a home | Buying a home | Quick summary | FAQ

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.

» COMPARE: See how Redfin savings stack up to other options.

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.

🌟 BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: If you're sold on the advantages of a conventional realtor experience but not on the commission price, try Clever Real Estate. It matches you with experienced, local agents. The agents offer the same experience you'd get with a conventional agent—but you'll pay just 1% commission when you find them through Clever. You can also get .5% Clever Cash Back on eligible home purchases. Win-win. Learn more about Clever.

Redfin vs. conventional realtors: What’s the difference?

Experience

You work one-on-one with a single conventional realtor, while Redfin serves you through a less personal, tech-driven, and team-based approach.

Seller savings

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 Redfin doesn’t offer the lowest rates—Clever Real Estate offers a conventional realtor experience for a 1% listing fee that they pre-negotiated with their partner agents.

» SAVE: Work with a local, full-service realtor for a 1% listing fee

Buyer savings

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, traditional buyer agents who partner with Clever give clients in eligible states a 0.05% Clever Cash Back checka few weeks after closing.

Services

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.

Agent quality

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.

» FULL GUIDE: UpNest vs. Clever | Houwzer vs. Redfin

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

Approach
Listing fee
Seller agent commission cost
Realtor
3%
$15,000
Redfin
1.5%
$7,500
1%
$5,000
*based on $500,000 home sale

» COMPARE: Best low commission real estate companies in 2022

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 charge only a 1% listing fee for an in-person, hands-on experience, which offers even steeper savings than what you’ll get with Redfin.

✅ Keep in mind that you're still responsible for the buyer agent's commission with any of these options, which is generally 3% of the sale price. Learn more about why the home seller pays commission for both agents.

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

Service
Listing fee
What you get
Standard
1.5%
  • Pricing
  • Pro photos
  • 3D walkthrough
  • Open houses
  • Reviewing offers,
  • Buyer negotiation
  • Closing coordination
Redfin Concierge
2.5%
  • Standard services
  • Professional staging
  • House cleaning
Redfin Premier ($1M+ homes)
1.5%
  • Standard services
  • Professional staging
  • House cleaning

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.

🕵 Do you have unique circumstances with your home? If you have a unique home or an unconventional sales situation, you want a realtor who knows how to handle the unexpected. I'm currently dealing with that because my house was custom built. It's much larger than the houses in my immediate area. Still, it doesn't compare to the newer, bigger homes farther out in my zip code. Valuation is exceptionally challenging, and I'm weighing the expense of making additional improvements versus the potential return on investment.

When I'm ready to list, I need a skilled and experienced agent who will work closely with me. Likewise, you must identify which attributes are essential to your situation when choosing a realtor.

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 best option available. When you choose a Clever buyer agent in an eligible state, you can earn up to 0.5% cash back after you close. With a cash back rebate, you can spend the money on whatever your heart desires. 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 can save more with other companies like Clever Real Estate (1% listing fee).
  • Redfin offers some buyers a limited rebate averaging 0.22%.

🏡 Save more with Clever Real Estate.

Match with top local agents. Get personalized service for just 1% commission.100% free with no obligation.

FAQ about Redfin vs. realtor

Using a Redfin agent is a good idea if you want to save money and don’t care as much about a personalized real estate agent experience. But if saving money is your main priority, there are better options available that will save you more and get you better service. Interview multiple agents from different companies before you decide to go with a Redfin agent.

You should use a Redfin agent to buy a house if you want a tech-driven experience for a lower listing fee than you’ll pay with a conventional real estate agent. That said, Redfin agents handle several transactions at once, so there’s a risk the service you receive will be less personal than what you’ll get from a conventional agent.

Redfin is popular because it offers built-in commission savings over traditional brokerages and real estate agents. Its tech-driven approach is also a big hit with savvy online users who enjoy doing their own research and cost comparisons from the comfort of their home or office.

Yes, there are better options than Redfin that will save you more money and give you a more hands-on, personal experience. We recommend starting your search with the agent-matching service Clever Real Estate because it combines the best of both worlds with qualified, vetted conventional agents who sell your home for a 1% listing fee (Redfin charges 1.5%) and offers buyers 0.5% cash back on eligible properties.