Redfin vs. Realtor: What's the Difference?

Jamie Ayers

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Jamie Ayers

November 9th, 2022
Updated November 9th, 2022

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Redfin isn't just a popular home search website and app. It’s one of the largest low commission real estate companies in the U.S., with agents operating in approximately 80+ markets across the country.

Redfin agents offer many of the same services as traditional realtors for about 2030% less overall — BUT there are tradeoffs, including limited dedicated support for sellers and minimum fees in some cities.

Many customers are happy with Redfin, but some have reported uneven service quality and other issues related to overextended Redfin agents and being juggled by a team.

If you're mainly drawn to Redfin for its lower realtor commission, there are plenty of other low commission brokerages that offer the same or even better savings. We recommend shopping around in order to find a real estate agent that fits your budget and expectations.

» MORE: The best low commission real estate brokerages (full rankings)

Below we'll look at how a Redfin agent differs from traditional agents, especially in terms of Redfin's fees and service quality. We'll also provide advice on how to decide whether selling with Redfin is right for you and alternatives you may want to consider.

Redfin agents vs. realtor: key differences

🔎 Key differences selling with Redfin agents vs. traditional agents:

  • Redfin agents earn a salary, as opposed to a percentage-based commission for each sale.
  • Redfin agents don’t handle every aspect of your sale — they collaborate with a larger team of specialists like marketers and transaction coordinators.

In other words, while the services may look the same on paper, the experience of selling with a Redfin agent vs. a traditional realtor will be quite different. Here’s why.

Redfin fees are lower than traditional realtors

When you sell with a Redfin agent, you can expect to save between 20–30% in realtor commission fees.

The average commission rate nationwide is approximately 5.45%. This total fee is typically split down the middle between the two agents handling the sale:

  • Listing fee: paid to the listing agent for helping the seller list and sell the home
  • Buyer’s agent fee: paid to the buyer’s agent for bringing their client to purchase the home

Discount brokers like Redfin offer savings on the listing fee side of that equation — i.e., Redfin charges sellers 1.5% compared to the typical 2.5–4% listing fee.

» MORE: How much does Redfin cost vs. a traditional realtor?

🚨 Watch out for Redfin’s minimum fees!

While Redfin advertises a 1.5% listing commission, it also has minimum commissions in many markets.

For example, if you consult this chart, you’ll see that Redfin has a minimum commission of $6,500 in San Francisco and $5,000 in Boston.

You won’t necessarily get the 1.5% commission if you work with Redfin agents in these markets — you’ll pay the flat minimums. And, for homes below a certain price point, those minimums can be much more than 1.5%. Put simply, always read the fine print and do the math before you sign.

Note: You’ll still likely have to cover the buyer’s agent commission

Importantly, Redfin still encourages sellers to offer a competitive buyer’s agent fee to incentivize buyer’s agents to show the home and attract more offers faster.

Buyer’s agent commission rates are negotiable and vary by market and home, but 2.5–3% is typical nationwide.

Here’s how the total commission fee could break down when you sell with Redfin.

Service
Fee*
Sell with Redfin
1.5%
Buyer’s agent commission
2.5–3%
Total
44.5%
*Minimum fees apply and vary by market. Source: Redfin

So what does that look like in terms of real dollar savings?

Use our calculator to see how much you could save by paying the 1.5% Redfin realtor fee compared to the traditional realtor fee of 3%.

» MORE: The best low commission companies, ranked

Same general services — less dedicated support

Redfin agents offer many of the same general services as traditional real estate agents, including help with pricing, marketing, showings, offers, paperwork, and closing coordination.

Redfin agents manage and render these services differently, though. If you're wondering if and why Redfin is bad, the biggest downside to the platform is in terms of service, especially for inexperienced home buyers and sellers.

Consider these differences in how Redfin works for sellers compared with a traditional agent.

Redfin agents handle 3x more transactions than the average realtor

Redfin agents are busier, so they may not have time for all of your questions, pass them off to another team member, or take longer to return your call or text.

This may not be an issue for confident sellers, but sellers who need reassurance and communication — and there’s nothing wrong with that — may not enjoy working with a high-volume agent.

Redfin agents close three times as many deals as the typical real estate agent

Redfin uses a team-based model instead of a one-on-one model

In a conventional sale, you can go to your agent for everything. This builds trust and rapport, and there’s direct accountability.

At Redfin, you’ll work with a team of specialists. Have issues with the way your home is marketed? You’ll have to take it up with your marketing specialist. If you have issues with your open house schedule, you’ll have to talk to yet another person, and so on.

This model can be more efficient, but it can also be confusing and frustrating if it’s not handled well.

Redfin handles much of the process remotely, via its website and app

A lot of the selling or buying process will happen through Redfin’s mobile app and online dashboard.

Redfin’s tech-centric approach may be great for some who prefer to communicate and coordinate this way, but for others — particularly the less tech-savvy among us — it could be frustrating or confusing.

Selling or buying a home can be complicated and stressful. Sometimes it’s preferable to get answers in real time, either in person or over the phone.

👋 Get a better agent AND bigger savings

Why pay more in commission fees for less service? Clever offers you bigger savings without sacrificing the service you expect from a traditional realtor.

Clever is one of the best alternatives to Redfin. Here's why:

 ✅ You'll only pay $3,000 or 1% to list your home

 ✅ You'll work with a single, dedicated realtor from start to finish

 ✅ Clever partner agents work at top brokers, like RE/MAX and Keller Williams

 ✅ It's free, with zero obligation — you can walk away at any time

Saving on realtor fees doesn't have to mean sacrificing service. Find a top local agent today!

Hire the individual agent, not the brand!

Every real estate brokerage, from Keller Williams to Coldwell Banker, is going to have a mix of great agents and not-so-great ones. Redfin is no exception.

Redfin is transparent about this fact. Their “agent finder” tool gives you information about each individual Redfin agent, including customer reviews and a map of their past deals.

With this tool, you can tell at a glance if you’re looking at a five-star elite performer or a lightly motivated novice.

Screenshots of Redfin's agent finder tool

Of course, some of Redfin’s more novice real estate agents are future top producers. Like any search tool that relies on past performance, the Redfin agent finder tool probably overvalues certain quantifiable data (like past sales and customer ratings) and undervalues intangibles like a personal connection.

This is a big deal because personal connection and shared priorities are the bedrock of a smooth, satisfying real estate experience.

✍️ What’s a Redfin partner agent?

Redfin's agent finder tool will also display Redfin partner agents. These are agents from other brokerages who pay Redfin a referral fee to show up in their searches.

Importantly, these agents AREN'T bound by Redfin’s terms and pricing. Double-check your agent choices, and make sure you interview a range of agents to make sure you find a good fit.

When comparing Redfin agents vs. realtors, your first goal should be to find an agent that's the right fit for you.

Interview multiple agents to understand their approach to helping you meet your needs — whether that's the fastest possible sale, top price, service quality, or some other term or priority.

Redfin agents may have less direct incentive than traditional realtors

Just how motivated are Redfin agents vs. realtors? The answer may come down to their different incentive structures.

Conventional real estate agents are paid a percentage-based commission after the sale goes through. The higher the final sale price, the more money they make. Your motivations as a seller — a higher price— are perfectly aligned with your agent’s.

💰 How Redfin agents get paid

Redfin agents work for a salary, with occasional performance bonuses. No matter how much your home sells for (or even if it doesn’t sell at all!), your Redfin agent is going to make the same paycheck.

This isn’t to say that Redfin agents don’t do their best to sell your home. Redfin offers their agents competitive salaries. Based on reviews, most Redfin agents take their responsibilities very seriously.

But the incentive disconnect is worth thinking about. There are simply fewer direct incentives for Redfin agents, which could contribute to a lower sale price or slower closing date for you.

Is selling with Redfin a good idea?

Redfin does offer some real savings, usually around 20–30% compared to a conventional real estate transaction.

Those savings can come with some risks compared to the experience you'll have with a conventional real estate agent.

Whether Redfin is a good idea for you will come down to your unique needs.

👍 Redfin is a good way to sell a house if:

  • You don’t need a lot of personalized attention
  • You're comfortable with technology
  • You prioritize lower commission above all else
    You're selling a high-value home

👎 Selling with Redfin may be a poor fit if:

  • You value one-on-one service and support from your agent
  • You are selling a less expensive home
  • You aren’t comfortable with technology

Alternatives to Redfin and traditional realtors

After comparing Redfin agents vs. realtors, you're likely wondering if there's a middle ground.

Stellar service at a lower commission rate? À la carte options for advanced home sellers? We've got you covered with these Redfin agent alternatives.

Get pre-negotiated low rates with traditional realtors

If you’re looking to save on commission but want to avoid customer service tradeoffs, consider working with a discount company that negotiates low rates with traditional realtors on your behalf, like Clever Real Estate.

Clever only works with top local agents from brokerages like Berkshire Hathaway and RE/MAX. Since Clever connects its partner agents with you at zero upfront cost, it can pass the savings onto you.

This means you'll get the same service and support you'd expect from a traditional realtor, but you'll pay a fraction of the typical price.

💰 Clever pre-negotiates low commission rates for you!

List with the best agents in your area for just $3,000 or 1%:

  • Sell with a full-service agent from a top brokerage
  • No upfront fees — you only pay when your home sells
  • Our agent matching service is 100% free with zero obligation
  • On average, Clever sellers save $9,000 on commission

Compare Redfin with other discount brokers

Redfin is just one of an ever-increasing number of discount brokers out there.

There are a number of national, regional, and local brands to choose from, each offering a wide variety of price points, service models, and pros and cons.

Generally speaking, most will come with some sort of variation on the same basic catch:

You can save big on commission fees, but you’ll likely trade off something (or assume some sort of risk) in return — usually customer service.

We recommend shopping around and comparing Redfin against 1–2 discount brands — along with 1–2 traditional agents — to get the best possible value and fit for your needs.

» MORE: The ultimate guide to discount brokers

Sell for sale by owner (FSBO)

🏆 Benefits of selling FSBO:

  • FSBO sellers pay no listing commission.
  • The entire sale process is under the seller’s control.
  • Using a flat fee MLS service makes your listing just as visible as agented listings (but the service and support ends there).
⚠️ Risks of selling FSBO:

  • FSBO sellers still have to offer a 3% buyer’s agent commission to bring in potential buyers.
  • Overseeing a sale from start to finish can be challenging for a non-professional.
  • Data shows that FSBO sales have lower average sale prices than agented listings.*

“For sale by owner” is exactly what it sounds like:

A sale conducted entirely by the owner of the property, with no help from a listing agent.

Since the main challenge is visibility with buyers, many FSBO sellers use a flat fee MLS listing service. These services charge a flat fee to get your listing onto the local MLS, but they don’t typically offer any additional services.

👍 FSBO could make sense if you:

  • Have a red-hot property in a red-hot market
  • Aren’t on any sort of timeline (FSBO properties tend to sell slowly)
  • Have professional experience that can help you sell a home
  • Place a very high value on independence and autonomy
  • Are fine with not getting the highest possible price

» MORE: How to sell your house for sale by owner

Sell to a 'we buy houses for cash' company

🏆 Benefits of selling to a cash buyer:

  • A cash buyer will buy homes even if they’re in very poor condition — sometimes they even buy vacant lots.
  • Sellers can get a cash offer within days — sometimes hours.
  • Sellers often have more flexibility to choose move-out and closing dates.
⚠️ Risks of selling to a cash buyer:

  • Offers are usually far below market value — sometimes by as much as 50% or more.
  • Subsequent in-person inspections could result in offer deductions from repair costs.
  • Cash buyers follow up very aggressively, sometimes for years, even after sellers decline their services.

"We buy houses for cash" companies are known for buying almost any house, regardless of location or condition, for (obviously) cash.

👍 Good for sellers who:

  • Aren’t concerned about getting the highest price
  • Need to sell ASAP
  • Inherited a property they don’t have any interest in keeping
  • Don’t have the capital or motivation to perform pre-sale repairs

👎 Bad for sellers who:

  • Want a fair price
  • Have homes that could sell conventionally as-is
  • Aren’t under any pressure to offload the property

» MORE: The truth about companies that buy houses for cash

Sell to an iBuyer

🏆 Benefits of selling to an iBuyer:

  • iBuyers can extend cash offers within days or even hours of contact.
  • They tend to offer much closer to fair market value than other types of cash buyers.
  • Many offer novel arrangements like home trade-ins.
⚠️ Risks of selling to an iBuyer:

  • Because they pay fair prices, they rely on service fees to make money.
  • Sellers can almost always make more money with a conventional sale.
  • iBuyers are quite selective and prefer newer homes in good condition.

iBuyers are large technology companies that make fast cash offers for homes, often sight unseen. Note that many of these companies have limited geographic ranges, so they may not be available in your area.

👍 An iBuyer could be a good option if you:

  • Have a home that fits an iBuyer’s typically strict purchasing criteria
  • Value convenience and speed over getting the highest possible price
  • Want to avoid the stress and uncertainty of listing on the open market
  • Need maximum flexibility and control over your closing timeline

Redfin vs. realtor: FAQs

Redfin isn't inherently bad, but it does have drawbacks. While Redfin agents are cheaper compared to a traditional agent, Redfin agents handle a lot more clients than traditional agents. So you'll get a lot less individualized support from Redfin than you would from a traditional agent.

Redfin doesn't allow you to post for sale by owner (FSBO) homes directly on its platform. However, Redfin’s home search portal pulls listings directly from the local MLSs across the country. If you’re listing FSBO and pay a flat fee MLS company to post your listing on your local MLS, it should appear on Redfin.com. Read our complete guide to selling FSBO.

Yes. Redfin is a fully licensed real estate brokerage with access to the MLS in each market it operates in. All MLS listings should appear on the Redfin website and app. However, Redfin won't have MLS listings for locations outside its service area. Find other home buying websites like Redfin.

Visit Redfin.com, add your city or zip code into the search bar, and then search. Clicking on “Real Estate Agents” in the top right corner will bring up a list of agents in your area. You can then view individual agents’ customer ratings and deal history. See how Redfin agents stack up vs. a traditional realtor.

Redfin listing fees are generally pretty transparent, though it does have minimum commissions in some markets. These minimums can sometimes exceed its quoted 1.5% commission rate for homes under a certain price point. See how Redfin compares to other low commission companies.

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