⚠️ Editor’s Note
Update (Sep 2021): Home Bay has officially shut down, and its real estate listing services are no longer available. For low commission alternatives near you, read our guide to the best discount real estate brokers for every budget.
Home Bay Real Estate is a discount real estate brokerage that claims it can save home sellers an average of $15,000 on realtor commission.
However, Home Bay’s DIY approach is a lot riskier than advertised, and — considering the limited service its agents provide — its fees are WAY too expensive. As the Home Bay reviews 0we’ll cover illustrate, most sellers will find a better value with other discount companies.
For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a 1% listing fee (or a flat $3,000 fee for homes under $350,000). Their free agent-matching service connects you with top realtors in your area, ensuring you never compromise on agent quality or support. Learn how to start saving today!
What Is Home Bay Real Estate?
- Home Bay charges a set fee that starts at $2,000 and varies based on your home’s listing price
- To take advantage of these discounted rates, you may face huge service quality compromises
- Home Bay agents spend just 90 minutes with each customer — and provide no in-person support
- Home Bay is currently only available in California
Home Bay is a real estate brokerage that aims to transform home-selling into a 100% digital experience.
Instead of providing on-the-ground support, Home Bay agents interact with customers remotely out of a central office in San Diego. This model allows Home Bay to manage more transactions with a smaller team, and they pass the savings onto sellers in the form of discounted commission fees.
After its last fundraising round, Home Bay said it planned to operate in twenty states by the end of 2019. Instead, it has since shrunk its footprint from six states to one — California.
How Does Home Bay Work?
Like most discount brokerages, Home Bay makes money by advertising cheap listing fees, then finding ways to reduce overhead costs.
Home Bay’s main cost-cutting strategy is to have customers do more of the work, with agents providing less support throughout the process.
According to their website, Home Bay is technically a “limited service” brokerage, which means that its agents offer fewer services than full-service realtors.
The company also charges every seller a non-refundable upfront fee. This ensures Home Bay earns money from every customer, whether or not their home actually sells.
How much does Home Bay cost?
Home Bay charges home sellers a flat fee based on their listing price. Here’s the Home Bay fees you could expect to pay at different price points, based on its website estimates.
|Price Point||Listing Fee||Effective Rate||Potential Savings*|
Watch out for Home Bay’s upfront 10% fee
Unlike most brokerages, Home Bay requires sellers to pay 10% of their listing fee up front. This initial deposit is non-refundable as this Home Bay review shows. The company collects the rest of its fee when the house sells.
Since the 10% deposit isn’t refundable, you won’t get it back for any reason — even if Home Bay fails to sell your home! This is NOT a common practice among real estate brokerages. Agents typically don’t charge a dime until your sale is complete.
Looking for a less risky way to save on your real estate commission? Our friends at Clever Real Estate offer a free agent-matching service that connects you with top-rated realtors in your area. Clever’s partner agents offer a full-service experience — all for just $3,000 or 1%.
Expect to offer up to 3% in buyer’s agent commission
In addition to Home Bay’s listing fee, expect to offer around 2.5-3% in buyer’s agent commission, depending on your home’s list price.
As the seller, you can technically offer whatever buyer’s agent fee you want — or even none at all. However, pinching pennies here could cost you money in the long run.
Why? Offering a competitive buyer’s agent commission rate motivates realtors to show your home. Without that incentive, agents may avoid your listing, which shrinks your pool of potential buyers. And the less competition you have from buyers, the more trouble you’ll have selling for a high price.
Home Bay vs. Traditional Realtors
Home Bay claims its business model “cut[s] costs, not quality.” But the reality is that listing with Home Bay comes with HUGE tradeoffs compared to selling with a traditional realtor.
When you sell with a conventional real estate brokerage, you’ll typically have a one-on-one relationship with a dedicated realtor. Agents usually work with a small number of other customers, so they have the bandwidth to give your sale the time, care, and personalized attention it needs.
Home Bay’s customer service approach has some notable differences.
Home Bay agents are way more hands-off
The primary reason Home Bay can offer discounted commission rates is that its agents are far more hands-off than traditional realtors.
By Home Bay’s own admission, its agents spend an average of less than two hours on each customer’s transaction, compared to the 50-60 hours a traditional realtor would likely devote to your sale.
Home Bay isn’t the only discount brokerage that cuts costs by giving customers less facetime with their agent, but it takes this strategy to a worrisome extreme.
Even in today’s seller-friendly housing market, a typical home sale takes more than 75 days. This means that from the time your listing hits the MLS until you sign your closing papers, your Home Bay agent will dedicate an average of less than two minutes per day to your sale.
Put simply, your home is likely your biggest investment. You deserve support from an agent who has the time and expertise to:
- Advise you on getting your home ready to sell
- Help you evaluate offers
- Negotiate on your behalf
- Resolve complicated issues like disputes over an inspection report
Home Bay agents provide zero on-the-ground support
While Home Bay is available throughout California, all of its agents work out of San Diego. The reason it can provide statewide coverage out of a single location is that its agents provide NO in-person support at any point during the sale process.
Keeping agents in-house reduces the company’s overhead, but it also creates additional risks for sellers.
For example, your Home Bay agent will attempt to price your home without ever seeing it up close. Without a clear grasp of your home’s unique features and condition, they may not have all the information they need to price it appropriately.
And if your home is mispriced, it could take longer to sell — or sell for a lot less than it’s worth.
Selling With Home Bay
When you sell with Home Bay, the process will feel a lot more DIY compared to selling with a traditional realtor — or even most discount brokerages.
|Service||Home Bay Agents||Traditional Realtors|
|Yard Sign and Lockbox||✅||✅|
Remember, most sellers will only get about 90 minutes of support throughout the entire sale process. Home Bay will list your property on the MLS, hire someone to put up a yard sign, and handle the paperwork, but you’ll have to do a lot of extra legwork yourself.
Tasks like hosting an open house and writing a custom listing description will be your responsibility. And while you’ll technically have access to an agent for help choosing a list price, evaluating offers, and negotiating with buyers, they may not be familiar enough with your situation to provide personalized advice.
Buying With Home Bay
If you buy with Home Bay, you’ll encounter the same potential basic tradeoffs as sellers.
The biggest drawback is that your buyer’s agent will handle the entire process remotely. They won’t even accompany you on home tours!
Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, you can schedule showings through the Home Bay website. A “showing coordinator” will meet you at the house and unlock the door so you can tour it. Then, you can submit offers through Home Bay’s website. If you want help from an agent, you’ll have to call the company’s main phone number.
This approach is clearly best-suited for experienced buyers. Since your buyer’s agent hasn’t seen the property — and may be less familiar with your priorities and situation — they won’t be able to provide as much guidance.
Home Bay refund
What’s the upside to buying with Home Bay? The potential to earn a commission rebate. On qualifying purchases, the company may refund 10% of the buyer’s agent fee, up to a maximum of $27,000.
That sounds like a lot, but 10% of the buyer’s agent commission translates to around just 0.25-0.3% of the sale price. To actually earn the full $27,000 refund, you’d have to purchase a home worth roughly $10 million!
Most rebates will be much more modest. With California’s median home price hovering around $700,000, the average buyer could save about $2,000.
Home buyer rebates are subject to numerous restrictions, including state regulations and lender approval. Always ask your lender and agent about eligibility conditions before you start the purchase process!
All in all, Home Bay’s refund doesn’t seem large enough to justify the limited support its agents provide. And since buying a house is usually one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make, it’s important to get the on-the-ground support you need.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between savings and service.
For example, our friends at Clever offer cash refunds eligible buyers. And since Clever only works with top-selling agents from major brokerages like Keller Williams and Century 21, you won’t have to compromise on service quality.
Home Bay Reviews: Pros, Cons, and Areas of Concern
Home Bay has generally positive reviews, with an average customer rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, based on reviews across Google, Trustpilot, Yelp, and Zillow.
Home Bay’s limited-service approach offers much lower listing fees than traditional, full-price real estate brokerages. Even so, it’s important to weigh Home Bay pros and cons carefully. Only then can you decide if it’s your best option, or if another discount service provides better value.
Pro: Savings for some home sellers
A consistent theme among positive Home Bay reviews is that the company’s cheap listing fees translate into genuine commission savings. On a $1 million home sale, you’d pay up to $23,000 less than selling with a traditional realtor.
As this Home Bay review illustrates, the company’s light-touch approach is a good fit for home sellers who are comfortable rolling up their sleeves and doing more of the work themselves.
However, Home Bay’s service model may not be right for everyone. If you don’t have much experience managing real estate transactions, or your home is in less-than-perfect shape, you may find better overall value with another company.
Con: Home Bay’s fees are expensive for what you get
Home Bay’s fees are comparable to what you’ll find at many discount real estate brokerages, but, as this review demonstrates, it offers a lot less service and support than similarly-priced companies.
Home Bay’s actual service lineup is largely equivalent to a flat-fee MLS listing service.
These companies — which charge as little as a few hundred bucks — will list your home on your local MLS, marketing it to a wide pool of buyers. Many also offer a la carte services, including premium marketing, paperwork assistance, and help negotiating.
If you’re only looking for very limited support at a lower rate, a flat-fee MLS service may be a better approach.
Con: Agents provide limited support
The biggest Home Bay complaints deal with the lack of agent support. Its agents provide lackluster service, either because they’re overextended, careless, or just poor communicators.
Time and again, negative Home Bay reviews highlight that it’s challenging to get in touch with your agent when you need assistance.
Even sellers who had generally decent experiences warn about subpar agent communication and support.
Con: Non-refundable 10% listing fee deposit
If you sell with Home Bay, you’ll pay a non-refundable 10% deposit when the company lists your house for sale. Home Bay claims this fee covers photography and other upfront expenses, which is why they won’t refund it even if your home doesn’t sell.
Know that it’s EXTREMELY unusual for a real estate brokerage to ask sellers to pay money upfront. Real estate commission is usually “pay-for-performance” — brokerages don’t earn their fee until your home sells. This ensures they’re 100% incentivized to find a buyer.
Of course, Home Bay wants to help you sell your house — otherwise it won’t collect the rest of its fee! But the reality is that Home Bay still makes money from every listing, even when its approach fails.
The Best Home Bay Alternatives
Although Home Bay claims that it offers discounted commission rates without sacrificing service, online reviews suggest customers face significant tradeoffs.
Depending on your needs and priorities, you may find a better mix of savings and support with one of these Home Bay competitors.
|Company||Average Rating||Locations||Listing Fee||Buyer Incentives||Average Savings*|
|Home Bay||4.4 (497 reviews)||CA||$2,000+||Yes||$8,450|
|Clever||4.9 (1,110 reviews)||Nationwide||$3,000 or 1%||Yes||$7,375|
|Redfin||3.2 (287 reviews)||Nationwide (select markets)||1.5% (min. fees vary)||Yes||$5,550|
|REX||4.7 (886 reviews)||Select states||2.5% (min. fees vary)||Yes||-$325|
Redfin is worth considering if you want to save on realtor commission but aren’t comfortable sacrificing personalized support. Redfin’s 1.5% listing fee is more expensive than Home Bay, but its agents provide in-person services like pricing consultations and open houses.
REX Real Estate is a discount brokerage that claims it can save home sellers up to 50% on realtor commission. REX’s strategy involves eliminating the buyer’s agent fee by marketing its listings on social media and other digital platforms rather than advertising them on the MLS.
Unfortunately, this approach is risky — and customer reviews suggest it has a high failure rate.
3. Clever Real Estate
Clever is a free agent-matching service that offers big commission savings WITHOUT the service-quality compromises that come with Home Bay’s hands-off sales approach.
Clever pre-negotiates low rates with traditional realtors from major brokerages like RE/MAX and Keller Williams. With Clever, you’ll sell with a top-rated, full-service agent for a 1% listing fee — or $3,000 if your home sells for less than $350,000. Eligible buyers may also receive a commission rebate.
If you want to save on real estate commission, Home Bay may not be your best option. Read on to learn about alternatives that offer bigger savings, better service, or both.
What Companies Offer the Lowest Real Estate Commission Fees?: Home Bay offers cheap listing fees, but it’s not the only company that offers realtor commission discounts. Find out which company charges the lowest commission fees.
How to Sell a House Without a Realtor: If you’re an experienced home seller and comfortable with Home Bay’s DIY approach, you can maximize your savings by listing your house “for sale by owner” (FSBO). Learn more in our guide on how to sell a home without a realtor.
Read This BEFORE You Pay For a Flat Fee MLS Service: Flat-fee MLS listing companies offer a similar range of services as Home Bay — but charge a lot less. Learn everything you need to know about selling with a flat-fee MLS listing service.
Clever Real Estate: Must-See Reviews: Clever connects home buyers and sellers to top-rated real estate agents in their area. Learn how their free agent-matching service can help you sell with a full-service realtor for just $3,000 or 1%.
Answers to FAQs about Home Bay
Is Home Bay legit?
Yes, Home Bay is a legitimate company. It’s licensed as a real estate brokerage in California, and has raised $19 million from investors. That said, there are several concerns about Home Bay’s business practices.
First, the company’s advertising is a bit misleading. Its website suggests Home Bay agents offer more support than traditional realtors, when in reality they provide a lot less. The company also charges an upfront, non-refundable fee. Not only is this unusual, but Home Bay’s website does not clearly warn customers that they won’t get this money back if their agent fails to sell their home.
How does Home Bay work?
Home Bay is able to offer discounted listing fees because it manages the sale process completely remotely and provides limited agent support. Sellers get an average of 90 minutes of contact with their agent during their entire transaction, and they’ll never meet their agent in-person. Customers must also do more work themselves, including writing a listing description, hosting open houses, and evaluating offers without an agent’s help. See how Home Bay stacks up against the top discount real estate services.
How much are Home Bay fees?
Home Bay charges a set fee that starts at $2,000 and varies based on your home’s listing price. Below $1 million, Home Bay’s fee is typically equivalent to a commission rate of 1-2%. That's expensive for what you get! Other low-fee brokerages offer fewer tradeoffs AND bigger savings. Check out or rankings of the best low commission companies.
What is Home Bay Financial?
Home Bay Financial is Home Bay’s in-house mortgage broker. As with any mortgage broker, it’s staffed by loan officers who can help you shop for home loans. Note that if you buy a home with a Home Bay agent, you are not required to get a mortgage through Home Bay Financial. Buying a home? Learn how to get a cash-back refund when you close!