What is Dave Ramsey’s ELP realtors program?
This review focuses on Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) realtors — a free service that matches you with local real estate agents “endorsed” by Dave Ramsey, the well-known personal finance author and radio host.
The ELP service operates under the umbrella of Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions. In addition to realtors, the program provides referrals for other service providers like tax advisors and insurance agents.
If you need a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home, Dave Ramsey’s ELP realtor service is a relatively easy way to get a quick introduction to a local agent. But the benefits stop there — and the drawbacks begin. The matching process is totally automated, customer support is spotty, and it doesn’t offer any real value for buyers and sellers beyond the initial agent introduction.
We don’t recommend Dave Ramsey realtors, even for die-hard Dave Ramsey fans. There’s no guarantee the agent you’ll end up working with will be a fellow Ramsey follower, or even familiar with his approach.
Many alternatives offer the same no-cost agent matching service with better quality control, customer service, and built-in value, like cost savings.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a more robust no-cost agent matching service and also pre-negotiate big savings on your behalf. Sellers can list with a top agent for $3,000 or 1%. Eligible buyers can get 0.5% of the purchase price back in cash after closing.
Who is Dave Ramsey?
If you’re already familiar with Ramsey, skip ahead to our evaluation of the Dave Ramsey ELP realtor matching service.
Dave Ramsey is a popular personal finance personality known for his negative opinion of debt and credit, as well as his Baby Steps that give followers a plan to achieve “financial freedom” by paying off existing debts and growing personal savings.
Ramsey wrote numerous books and hosts a long-running radio show. His company, Ramsey Solutions, offers many complementary products and services, including a budgeting app, a financial education curriculum for schools and churches, and a number of events.
Ramsey’s evangelical Christian religious views feature heavily on his programs, in his books, and in his company’s “righteous living” policies.
Dave Ramsey controversies
Ramsey has been in the headlines for some controversial actions. He:
- Fired employees for having pre-marital sex | Read more
- Pulled a loaded pistol out of a bag during a staff meeting | Read more
- Kept offices open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic | Read more
- Hosted a 1,000-person maskless Christmas party during COVID-19 | Read more
Ramsey often infuses his personal views into his financial advice and the way his company operates. Take it or leave it, we think it’s important to be aware of this before deciding whether or not Ramsey Solutions is a company you choose to support.
What is the Dave Ramsey ELP program?
The Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) program is a branch of Ramsey Solutions. It helps Ramsey’s audience connect with local service providers who are familiar with “The Ramsey Way,” including tax advisors, insurance agents, and realtors.
Previously, investment advisors were also part of Ramsey’s ELP program. It’s illegal to endorse financial professionals, so Ramsey Solutions changed the name of that arm of the program to “SmartVestor.”
In reality, the individual providers in the ELP program are not personally vetted and endorsed by Ramsey himself. Rather, they’ve applied to be part of the referral network Ramsey Solutions built to monetize Ramsey’s popularity and grow web traffic.
Why would I want to work with an ELP realtor?
Ramsey fans may be tempted to seek out an ELP realtor when buying or selling a home, believing that the individual will guide them to follow Ramsey’s principles.
Real estate agents in Ramsey’s program must meet the following qualification to join:
- 4+ years of experience
- About 35 closings annually
- Top 10% performance in their local market
- Has “the heart of a teacher”
- Shares “Ramsey values”
Wondering what the last two mean? We called Ramsey Solutions and learned that the heart of a teacher is the opposite of “the attitude of a salesman.” In practical terms, this means that the realtor agrees to explain the reasoning behind any advice they provide.
Ramsey values as they relate to real estate are:
- Purchase your home with a 20% down payment.
- Obtain a 15-year fixed mortgage.
- Ensure your monthly mortgage payment does not exceed 25% of your monthly income.
These values don’t actually have much to do with your realtor. In practice, when purchasing a home, you tell the agent your budget and they show you properties within that range. It’s your call which house you buy.
Additionally, any real estate agent aims to gain maximum value when selling your home. And it’s your decision to accept or reject offers.
A Ramsey rep with whom we spoke confirmed this is true. If your aim is to follow Ramsey’s teachings when buying a home, it makes more sense to partner with a loan officer who understands his principles.
Is Dave Ramsey ELP realtors legit?
The Dave Ramsey ELP real estate service is a licensed brokerage in Tennessee. All agent matching services must be licensed to collect funds from agents, which is how they make money.
Ramsey Solutions has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, though it is not accredited. It’s been a corporation since 1995.
The Dave Ramsey ELP realtors website says its network includes “thousands” of realtors. It claims to have helped 13,000 customers last year.
Ramsey Solutions screens agents before allowing them to join the ELP network, ensuring they meet the minimum experience and sales criteria. However, realtors are not tested on whether or not they understand the Ramsey-specific requirements. For example, agents simply check a box when they sign up corresponding to the number of Ramsey books they’ve read to indicate they share Ramsey’s values.
🚨 Beware of an agent bait-and-switch
Sometimes, the agent you’re matched with on the Ramsey platform will hand you off to another agent on their team. In fact, of four ELPs who reached out to our mystery shoppers, only one was the actual agent our shopper initially saw on Dave Ramsey’s platform. Three out of four times, our shoppers were handed off by their ELP agent match to another agent in their brokerage.
There’s no guarantee that these other agents have any knowledge of Dave Ramsey or follow his philosophies. This is a huge red flag for Ramsey fans who want the ELP service to connect them with an agent who shares their values.
✍️ Editor’s note
When choosing a realtor, one of the most important things to consider is their experience in your target neighborhood. If you limit yourself to agents within the Ramsey ELP network, that’s going to be tough to find. If you use an agent without specialized local knowledge, you may end up selling your home for less or paying more than you need to.
How does Dave Ramsey’s ELP realtor program work?
You can sign up to match with a realtor ELP on the Ramsey Solutions website. It will ask you for information such as:
- Where you plan to buy or sell
- Your timeline
- Your contact information
- Your reason for moving (such as relocating for a new job or downsizing for retirement)
- Whether you have specific concerns about buying or selling
After you sign up, you will immediately receive 2-3 agent matches.
✍️ Editor’s note
The ELP matching process is automated. Some alternative agent matching services use automation, but add a human element to check for accuracy and account for more nuanced needs.
Clever Concierges interact with customers to learn more about their unique circumstances before providing agent matches. This allows them to personalize matches to address specific needs a computer can’t understand. For example, a Concierge may choose an agent who specializes in large rural properties for a buyer interested in a home with room for a hobby farm.
Once you’ve received your matches, a member of the Ramsey Customer Success Team will email introductory information. The agent (or a member of their team) may also reach out at some point to connect.
The ELP program provides details about your agent matches, including:
- Average transaction price
- Average days on market
- List price accuracy
- Number of closings in the past 12 months
- Top areas served
They also detail Ramsey-specific qualifications such as:
- Current Ramsey Baby Step
- Number of Ramsey books read
- Whether they’re a Financial Peace Coordinator or Graduate (this is a course teaching the Ramsey basics)
Once you review your agent matches, you can schedule interviews to get to know them better. You may choose to work with one or walk away with no obligation. If you decide to work with an ELP realtor, the Ramsey Customer Success Team stays in touch to ensure your transaction progresses smoothly.
How much do Dave Ramsey ELP realtors cost?
The Dave Ramsey ELP realtors program is free for buyers and sellers. All agent matching services are.
But if you’re selling, you still need to cover the agents’ commissions, which typically amount to 5-6% of the sale price. Half usually goes to your listing agent, and the other half goes to the buyer’s agent.
✍️ Editor’s note
On Ramsey’s podcast, he talks about how he personally uses “no commission” financial accounts. Since he’s obviously not a fan of paying high commission rates, it’s interesting that his company does not negotiate a reduced commission rate with his real estate ELPs.
Alternative agent matching companies offer the same service with built-in commission discounts, saving customers thousands of dollars when selling their homes.
Our friends at Clever, for example, pre-negotiate a discounted rate of 1% (or $3,000 on properties that sell for less than $350,000) with its network of top-rated agents. On the sale of a $400,000 home, customers can save $8,000!
How does Ramsey make money on the real estate ELP service?
Most agent matching services make money by charging agents a percentage of their commission on deals closed with a buyer or seller they refer. This is known as a referral fee.
Ramsey’s website is opaque about its realtor referral fee. We reached out to Ramsey Solutions to confirm the referral fee and couldn’t get a straight answer. We gleaned that Ramsey Solutions determines each agent’s referral fee on a case-by-case basis, depending on local market conditions and the agent’s success rate with Ramsey customers.
To learn more, we dug through real estate forums and comments on related news articles. Based on this information, we believe Ramsey Solutions charges ELP realtors an additional fee on top of the referral fee. Ramsey Solutions is the only agent matching service we’ve encountered that does this. It is not a good value for real estate agents compared to alternatives.
Ramsey also makes money upselling customers who are looking for a realtor into complementary ELP services, like mortgage lenders and homeowners insurance providers.
🚨 Evaluate complementary services independently
When signing up for a real estate ELP online, buyers can also choose an option to pre-qualify for a mortgage. At the time you receive your agent matches, you’ll also receive a referral to Ramsey “Trusted Provider” Churchill Mortgage. Ramsey frequently talks about Churchill Mortgage on his programs; the company seems to be an advertiser.
Even if you’re a Ramsey fan who believes in his methods, that doesn’t mean Churchill Mortgage is necessarily the right lender for you. When shopping for a lender, look for one that can give you the most favorable rates and terms while ensuring a smooth close.
Always research and compare at least 2-3 options before making a decision, especially when it comes to something as important as a home loan.
Why do realtors sign up to be Dave Ramsey ELPs?
Dave Ramsey has a huge reach among his fan base. Becoming an ELP lets agents leverage Ramsey’s established credibility among his audience.
Real estate agents need a steady stream of new customers to sustain their business, and they typically spend a lot of time and money on marketing to attract new business. This takes time away from working on deals, which is how they make money. And there’s no guarantee that the time and money invested in business development will generate returns, since not every deal closes.
Ramsey’s ELP program delivers a steady stream of new prospective customers to real estate agents. Even with the fees involved, the high volume of customers it brings in presumably allows agents to turn a healthy profit while growing their business.
Reviews of Dave Ramsey ELP realtors: Major benefits and drawbacks
We couldn’t find many Dave Ramsey ELP realtor reviews. But, we did some deep research and had our mystery shoppers engage with the company to get the lowdown.
Our team found that the Dave Ramsey ELP service for realtors can get you some quick intros to a couple of real estate agents in your general area. The program doesn’t offer a whole lot of value beyond that.
The company doesn’t offer savings like some competitors, its customer service team is hit or miss, and there’s no guarantee your agent will even be a Ramsey follower.
Dave Ramsey ELP realtors: Pros and cons
✅ Fast and easy agent matching
The Dave Ramey ELP realtor matching process is automated. You will receive 2-3 agent matches immediately after signing up.
Automated matching allows you to do your agent search any time, including outside of business hours, since you don’t have to speak with a concierge first. Some alternative services require this (Ideal Agent and MyAgentFinder, for example) to obtain more nuanced details about your personal needs to inform your matches.
If all you’re looking for is quick access to a couple of local agent names, Dave Ramsey’s ELP service delivers.
✅ Minimum quality criteria enforced for agents
Dave Ramsey’s ELP realtor program requires that agents have four years of experience and at least 35 closings in the past 12 months. Unlike competitors such as MyAgentFinder and Fast Expert, the company enforces these requirements. So, you can rest assured that your Ramsey ELP agent matches have some real estate experience and belong to a productive team.
However, it isn’t clear how the ELP service vets agents on its Ramsey-specific criteria, like which Baby Step they’re on or which Ramsey books they’ve read.
⚠️ Customer reps know Ramsey-isms, but not much else
Customer Success Team roles at Ramsey Solutions are considered entry-level sales positions, according to a job listing we uncovered. Members of the team are not required to know anything about real estate.
While the ELP Customer Success Team might be able to address questions about Ramsey and his approaches, our shoppers felt they did not have any specialized knowledge about real estate or the agents in their network.
⚠️ Agent matches aren’t always on target
Dave Ramsey’s ELP doesn’t share the exact size of its agent network; its website claims “thousands” of agents. Based on the matches our shoppers received, we assume it’s on the small size compared to alternatives.
Each shopper received 2-3 matches, which is typical of smaller agent matching services. Realtors were typically from nearby metros for our shoppers in smaller towns and more rural areas, which indicates network coverage is not as robust outside of big cities.
The Customer Success Team complied when one of our mystery shoppers asked for an additional agent match, but it took a few days for them to deliver the match.
When one shopper expressed concern about the large distance between their home and their agent match’s office, the Customer Success Team rep told them that location doesn’t matter when choosing an agent. However, we feel that having specialized neighborhood knowledge is one of the most important things to consider in an agent search. Additionally, this made us suspect that Ramsey’s ELP program matches agents with customers simply based on proximity.
Online forum participants agreed that the quality of their Ramsey ELP agent matches was so-so.
✍️ Editor’s note
The Dave Ramsey ELP realtors program announced in June 2021 that it will no longer work with agents from the brokerage eXp (read more). eXp is currently the No. 4 brokerage in the United States in terms of sales volume.
If you decide to choose your agent from the Ramsey ELP network, you may potentially miss out on a significant number of top performers in your local area simply because Ramsey has a personal beef with the eXp brokerage model.
⚠️ No customer dashboard makes it difficult to track matches
When you first sign up for a Dave Ramey ELP realtor, your matches are displayed on a helpful web page that allows you to compare qualifications side by side. However, you can’t reach out to the agents or the Customer Success Team on this page.
Alternative agent matching services, such as HomeLight, give buyers and sellers a custom dashboard where they can view information about their matches, get in touch with agents or customer service reps, and track all communication in one place.
Additionally, other services provide more useful information in their dashboards, such as the location of the agent’s recent sales and their specialties or areas of expertise (like relocation or short sales). All of these details help you make an informed decision when looking for a realtor.
Our shoppers said they preferred to base their agent choices on performance indicators and localized knowledge. Instead, the Ramsey ELP platform’s dashboard focuses on irrelevant details, such as the realtors’ progress with personal financial goals and how many Ramsey books they’ve read.
The ELP service’s dashboard is a step above other agent matching services like MyAgentFinder, which only provides agent contact details via text. But it’s a far cry from others that offer valuable information to help guide customers.
⛔️ No commission savings or rebates for customers
Dave Ramsey ELP realtors do not offer any kind of cost-saving benefits for buyers or sellers. Alternative agent matching companies do. Because Dave Ramsey’s an advocate for financial prudence, we’re surprised his service doesn’t offer this benefit.
Our friends at Clever have pre-negotiated a reduced commission rate of $3,000 or 1% for sellers. Clever offers Clever Cash Back for buyers — a check for 0.5% of the sale price after closing.
Clever offers the same free no-obligation agent matching service at less than half the price. Why would you leave money on the table and choose a Ramsey ELP agent?
⛔️ Customer service is hit or miss
Our mystery shoppers reached out to the Ramsey Customer Success Team with varying results.
It took several days to receive email responses, and those responses seemed canned and impersonal.
All of the shoppers’ questions submitted via the Ramsey website’s chat box weren’t answered.
Most of the time, the phone number for the Ramsey Customer Success Team went to voicemail. Only once did a shopper connect via phone with a representative. The Customer Success rep was helpful — they walked the shopper through the agent matching process and clarified some Ramsey-specific terminology.
If you need a customer service person to answer questions and guide you through the agent selection process, Dave Ramsey ELP might not be the best fit for you.
Our friends at Clever, however, offer a dedicated Concierge service to ensure buyers and sellers connect with the right agent. All of Clever’s Concierge team members are licensed realtors who are experienced in the business and can offer informed advice.
⛔️ No guarantee agents actually share Ramsey values
Dave Ramsey’s ELP service does not vet agents on whether they share Ramsey values. When they sign up, agents simply check a box to indicate things like having “the heart of a teacher.”
Based on the high number of closes required to join the ELP network, most ELP agents are probably members of larger brokerage teams.
A team-based approach can have benefits (coverage even if a certain agent isn’t available) and drawbacks (prone to mistakes when too many cooks are in the kitchen). In this case, we consider it a drawback, because there’s no guarantee you’ll work directly with the agent who Ramsey matched you with. You may be passed off to a junior team member.
Of the four ELP agents who contacted our shoppers, only one was the actual agent who claimed to follow the Ramsey Baby Steps, read his books, and share his values. The other three were teammates of the ELP agent who did not share their personal opinion of Dave Ramsey and his financial approach.
According to some forum users, others have experienced the same.
This left us wondering about the point of the Dave Ramsey ELP realtor service, since three out of four times our shoppers didn’t end up with an agent his company endorsed.
Top alternatives to Dave Ramsey ELP realtors 2022
Clever Real Estate
Clever Real EstateTRY CLEVER NOW
- List for $3,000 or 1%
- Up to 0.5% cash back for buyers
- Helpful, licensed Concierge
Clever is a free, no-obligation service that matches home sellers and buyers with top-rated, local real estate agents nationwide. Unlike most of its competitors, Clever pre-negotiates big discounts with its agent network, so customers land major savings! Sellers can save up to 50% on realtor commission fees. Buyers can qualify for 0.5% of their purchase price back after closing.
- Partners with full-service agents from top brokerages like Century 21 and RE/MAX
- Provides multiple agent matches so you can compare and choose the best fit
- Pre-negotiates low rates with agent network
- As with most agent matching services, customers may have fewer agent options in certain rural areas
- Sellers who are looking for top local real estate agents at the best rates.
- Buyers who want a great agent while also potentially saving money.
Like the Dave Ramsey ELP realtor program, Clever is a free, no-obligation service that connects you with top local agents. The similarities end there.
Clever’s Concierges are licensed agents who are knowledgeable about real estate. They work with buyers and sellers one-on-one to find the perfect agent match and guide them through the transaction process.
Clever pre-negotiates discounted rates with the agents in its network to help save you money. The average Clever seller saves $9,600 on their home sale. Clever buyers get 0.5% cash back upon closing, which certainly comes in handy when moving into a new place.
Dave Ramsey ELP realtors offer customers no value or savings.
- Agents compete for your business
- Potential commission discount
- May offer buyer rebate
UpNest calls itself a “real estate agent marketplace” because agents compete for your business through its platform. After you sign up on UpNest’s website, local agents will submit proposals for you to review. Because they’re competing with one another, they’re incentivized to lower their rates to make their proposals more attractive. While this may drive savings, they may not be significant — particularly in less competitive markets. And unlike some other brands, the savings aren’t actually guaranteed.
- Agents compete for your business, which can drive savings
- Platform allows customers to easily shop around for the best agent match
- Discounts are not guaranteed and may be minimal
- Sellers who are looking for a good agent and aren’t concerned about savings or customer service.
- Eligible buyers who are looking to potentially lower their closing costs
UpNest is another popular agent matching service that offers a “real estate agent marketplace” where local realtors submit proposals to compete for your business.
By creating competition, UpNest drives potential savings for budget-minded customers. Some agents may quote you a lower commission rate or a buyer rebate to make their proposal more enticing.
But UpNest’s savings aren’t guaranteed and may be minimal in competitive markets. Other agent matching services, like Clever, offer significant built-in savings, meaning you’ll pay the same low rate no matter where you are or which agent you choose.
Ideal AgentFULL REVIEW
- List for 2%
- Limited agent network
- Licensed, helpful Concierge
Ideal Agent can match you with a top-rated local realtor who has agreed to offer full service for a discounted 2% listing fee. Ideal Agent has strict standards for its agent network, claiming it only works with agents whose sales numbers are in the top 1% of their local markets. Notably, Ideal Agent only provides customers with one agent match, so if comparing options is important to you, it might not be a good choice. And while it does offer built-in savings for sellers, they’re not as significant as those offered by some top competitors, like Clever.
- Offers some built-in savings for home sellers
- Sets high performance standards for its agent network
- Offers a discounted 2.5% buyer’s agent commission, which might disincentivize realtors from showing your home to clients
- Only matches you with one agent
- Its limited network size may mean spotty coverage in smaller towns and rural areas
Sellers who live in a major metropolitan area, don’t want to spend time comparing agents, and would like some savings.
Ideal Agent is an agent matching service that offers sellers discounted commission rates. The company says it will sell your house for an overall 4.5% commission rate, compared to the typical 5-6%.
Ideal Agent differs from Dave Ramsey ELP realtors in that it provides only a single agent match. However, it prides itself on working with only the top 1% of agents according to sales data in their local markets.
It’s best to use Ideal Agent in tandem with another agent matching service or a DIY realtor search, so you can interview at least 2-3 agents, compare them, and pick the best one for you.
Should I work with a Dave Ramsey ELP realtor?
There’s no harm in trying the Dave Ramsey ELP realtor service. It’s free and there’s no obligation to work with any of the agents you match with.
That said, we don’t see a lot of value in what Ramsey’s ELP realtor service has to offer.
Most likely, you won’t be working directly with the ELP you’re referred to. Even then, your realtor’s views on personal finance don’t really matter. Your agent works for you — you tell them your budget and any “must-haves,” and they work to help you score a house within those parameters.
For truly value-minded customers, we recommend giving Clever a try instead. Clever offers the most savings in the industry — and those savings are guaranteed no matter which agent you work with.
How does Dave Ramsey choose a realtor?
Dave Ramsey has Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) realtors nationwide. However, truly budget-savvy buyers and sellers use alternative services, some of which offer full-service agents at 1% commission.
What is a Dave Ramsey ELP?
ELP stands for "Endorsed Local Provider." ELPs are local professionals, such as real estate agents, tax advisors, and insurance providers, who are familiar with Dave Ramsey's financial approach. Dave Ramsey ELP realtors do not provide commission discounts.
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