Table of Contents
- What is UpNest and how does it work?
- How much does UpNest cost? What are the fees?
- UpNest Pros and Cons
- Upnest Reviews: Complaints and Praise
- UpNest vs. Redfin
- UpNest vs. Clever Real Estate
What is UpNest and how does it work?
UpNest is a platform real estate agents use to compete for the business of home sellers.
By providing agents with a steady flow of business to vie for, the hope is to bring down commission costs and help the seller save money. The idea is simple: When agents compete for your bid, home sellers win.
However, focusing so intently on cutting costs can come at a different price. UpNest is a discount referral brokerage. On its own, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: There are plenty of great discount referral brokerages out there. It just means that its business model is based around providing agents with a steady stream of business for a finder’s fee.
The problem is that UpNest’s finder’s fee is notoriously high (we’ll go into this later) and they don’t pre-negotiate commission fees on behalf of the agents and sellers. So, the quality of service provided by the agent and savings passed on to the customer can vary.
Additionally, UpNest agents compete against one another in a blind auction. This means they can’t see what their peers have proposed. It also means that in particularly competitive areas or markets, your savings can vary. By not pre-negotiating the rates on behalf of sellers, the amount you save changes on a per-case basis.
Now, let’s dive deeper into how UpNest works.
How UpNest works
- Sign up: Fill in your seller details, like how soon you’re looking to sell, the type of home, and what you expect to sell your home for.
- Wait for UpNest to do its thing: The site will search for agents that seem like a good fit. In the meantime, they’ll send you notification like this text:
- Receive proposals: UpNest agents will contact you with their proposals and rebate quotes – usually within 24 hours.
- Select your favorite: Choose between the UpNest agent selected for you
The experience of finding agents is straightforward, but let’s also explore the costs of UpNest for both users and agents.
How much does UpNest cost? What are the fees?
How much do sellers pay UpNest?
According to UpNest, the cost of using their platform is free:
“UpNest is a free service for home buyers and sellers. We don’t charge you any fees and although we pride ourselves in finding great agent matches, there is no obligation to work with one of our agents unless you are 100% satisfied.”
Of course, home sellers do end up paying their agent, as well as a buyer’s agent commission.
What are the commission fees for home sellers?
The answer you’re probably looking for when you ask “How much does UpNest cost?” is about how much it costs to work with an UpNest agent. UpNest commission fees vary by region but are usually 1% – 3% plus the cost of the buyer agent’s commission (2 – 3%). The total real estate commission fees end up being a little less than 6%.
Depending on the market, the cost of working with agents on UpNest varies greatly – as do the savings.
How much do agents pay UpNest?
So, how does UpNest make money? Because the platform is helping bring a steady stream of business to agents’ doors, the agents pay UpNest a referral fee of 30%.
In other words, the agents are the ones that pay UpNest, while the home seller pays the agent for their service.
So now we know a little more about how UpNest works and its associated costs. What about the advantages and disadvantages of using this platform? That’s next:
UpNest Pros and Cons
Like any discount referral brokerage, UpNest the main value proposition is saving home sellers money on commissions. However, it also has quite a few cons that are unique to its particular blind bidding model. In this section, we’re going to look at all of these – the pros and the cons – so you know what to expect.
- Brisk communication: Within 24 hours, you’re contacted by your UpNest Advisor and usually receive proposals from 3-5 real estate agents in that same period.
- No obligations as you find the right agent for you: Read agent proposals, listen to their interviews, and ask questions all while knowing (in the words of UpNest): “There is no obligation to hire any of the real estate agents that submit a proposal.”
- Some savings: One of the biggest UpNest pros – and that any discount referral brokerage will emphasize – is the savings passed onto the seller. It is possible that if the market conditions are right, you can save on commission fees.
- No pre-negotiation on your behalf: UpNest doesn’t establish a set commission fee or percentage, which means it’s the seller’s job to negotiate it down. As agents compete for your bid, you need to do the work of bargaining them down to ensure you actually get a good price and enjoy some savings.
- Lack of real value: Who’s to say you couldn’t find equally qualified agents outside of UpNest? You don’t have to be a master negotiator to get a great deal.
- Overcommunication: Not only are you getting quite a few initial emails and texts from your UpNest Advisor, but then you start fielding calls from agents competing for your bid. Just check out these three follow-ups from an UpNest Advisor within the same day of opening an account:
- Feeling locked in: It’s not very clear how to request additional agents if you don’t feel the initial matches are the right fit. And, if you do stick with just the first bunch, you could be missing out on a great deal elsewhere.
Clever Real Estate is a Good Alternative
Want to avoid the UpNest cons while reaping the most important benefits, like great cost-savings and partnering with only top-tier agents? Clever offers the same UpNest edge (think rapid, data-driven referrals, top-rated agents, and no obligations) with a major advantage: a pre-negotiated 1% listing fee or a $3,000 flat rate fee.
In fact, sellers that list with Clever save on average $10,000 per transaction compared with a full-commission agent.
Find Full-Service Agents That Offer a Sweet Discount
Clever is the #1 alternative to UpNest. Connect with full-service agents that work for a discount – no negotiations needed!
Upnest Reviews: Complaints and Praise
Knowing the pros and cons is great, but what are actual people saying about UpNest? Here, we dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly – straight from customers, agents, and employees.
The good news: UpNest positive reviews
There are many places to find UpNest reviews, and the Better Business Bureau is one of them. Let’s take a look at a few that correspond to the UpNest pros we listed earlier:
Lauren R. loves the rapid response time
One of the standout reasons why Lauren gave such a rave review was due to the 10 minutes it took for a qualified agent to contact her. UpNest offers fast connections with agents.
Dillon found the realtor that was the right fit
Dillon’s UpNest review attests to the benefit that the platform provides in terms of letting you choose who to work with, though it does seem he only chose from the initial batch.
Douglas highlights his savings
As Douglas points out, you can save money with UpNest, given the right agent and market.
A positive UpNest review from the agent perspective
While customer reviews provide excellent insight to UpNest, the equation isn’t complete without the agents’ perspective. The website Active Rain, a popular platform for agents to share information, gives us this insight, but the reviews are mixed.
Take a look at this positive UpNest review in response to the question “Has anyone heard of and/or used (with success) UpNest to get leads?” asked by realtor Joanne Gillet:
Susan’s review gives insight into the agent perspective of UpNest and her overall positive experience with it whenever she’s in need of new business.
A positive review from an UpNest employee
Just like the agent perspective, reading reviews from employees provides an inside scoop into the company culture. And just like the agent reviews, these were mixed, too.
Let’s look to Glassdoor for an example of a positive UpNest employee review:
Onto the not-so-good news:
There are plenty of UpNest complaints out there that correspond with the cons we mentioned above. Let’s dive into the negative reviews left by customers, agents, and employees.
Mark is unhappy with the UpNest referral fee and how it affects commission negotiations
UpNest’s referral fee, as identified by Mark, can be substantial. Agents aren’t always willing to negotiate as low as customers might like.
Scott reveals how the Upnest fee structure affects agents
Let’s look at this pre-negotiation complaint about UpNest from the agent side, too.
As Scott mentions, in order to remain competitive, agents often lower their fees to the extent of feeling undervalued and underpaid.
Shannon’s UpNest complaint: The bang wasn’t worth the buck
The lack of value of UpNest is a major problem for Shannon, in which she says all of the advantages of the platform offers can actually be found elsewhere – and for cheaper.
Ernest felt overwhelmed
Remember, UpNest sends email reminders, push notifications, and calls. For many users – like Ernest – they feel bombarded and unpleasantly surprised by the excess communication.
Cheryl felt stuck with her first two agents
The first batch of agents Cheryl received didn’t feel like the right fit. And as much as UpNest claims to match the right agents with you from the get-go, Cheryl demonstrates that when this is not the case, it feels like you’re locked in with that initial batch.
An UpNest complaint from a previous user acts as a warning
The example above an official complaint on the Better Business Bureau provides fair warning to what can go wrong on the platform in a very serious way.
Minna doesn’t want to compete in a blind auction
In another UpNest review from an agent, Minna shows how the blind auction process can be a major disadvantage. When an agent feels that their prices are valued more than their services, they might remove themselves from the whole process. Unlike Clever and other sites that pre-negotiate the fee structure so both sides know exactly what to expect, UpNest forces agents to compete with one another.
Another employee warns of turnover and scams
We mentioned earlier how mixed the reviews of UpNest were on Glassdoor. Here’s a former employee that had concerns regarding the ethics of the company:
In a review that garnered 19 “Helpful” votes, this former UpNest employee highlights questionable actions taken by leadership (e.g. withholding PTO) and a clear sense of employees being underpaid and undervalued.
From the reviews above, you can get a sense of what real people are saying about UpNest – and it’s a mixed bag. If you’re still interested in a discount referral brokerage, let’s consider the other options available before committing to UpNest.
UpNest vs. Redfin
Redfin is one of UpNest’s biggest competitors and represents another online real estate platform for buyers and sellers that offers discounts. Let’s take a look at what Redfin is and its advantages and disadvantages as compared to UpNest.
How Redfin works
Like UpNest, Redfin is a service for both home sellers and buyers. For sellers, Redfin connects them with top-rated agents that work at discounted rates. And like UpNest, those discounted rates and ultimate savings are a major draw of the platform.
However, Redfin pre-negotiates fees. The listing fee is 1.5% for home sellers and is dropped down to 1% if users both sell and buy on the platform. In dollar amounts, the average minimum Redfin fee is $3,343. Either way, you’ll pay the buyer’s agent commission, which typically runs between 2.5% and 3%.
Another note about Redfin: They have a suite of online tools, data resources, and services for home buyers and sellers. We’ll get into that shortly.
Redfin vs. UpNest: The similarities
Considering both UpNest and Redfin are online listing platforms, they share some similarities, like:
- Connecting sellers with top-rated agents in their area
- Following the discount referral brokerage model, meaning they both advertise savings to the customer.
However, that’s where the similarities end. So, let’s dive into the differences.
Redfin vs. UpNest: The differences
There are also significant differences between UpNest and Redfin. They include:
- Agents are in-house: Here’s what Redfin says about how salaried agents (vs. commission-based agents) are an advantage: “We joined forces with agents who wanted to be customer advocates, not salesmen. Since these were our own agents, we could survey each customer on our service and pay a bonus based on the review.”
Of course, there’s a flip side to this coin. Commission is the incentive for real estate agents. So, if you remove that entirely from the equation, there is a chance that they won’t put in as much effort. And, they may even push you to lower your home’s price past what it could actually sell for just to get the sale.
Here’s a Redfin review that shows how this can play out:
- Minimum listing fees are pre-established: The Redfin listing fee is pre-negotiated at 1.5% and sellers also pay the buyer agent’s commission. So, total commission usually comes to 3.5%-4.5%. However, Redfin has a minimum listing fee based on the market you’re selling in. Depending on your home value and what this minimum fee is, you could end up spending more than the 1.5% average. A similar loophole comes into effect with Redfin Partner Agents. Redfin will refer you to Partner Agents – which are not hired in-house – if you are outside of Redfin’s market coverage. And, these agents don’t necessarily follow the discounted commission model.
- Access to online tools, resources, and dashboards: Redfin provides both home sellers and buyers with technology that enhances the entire process.
It’s important to note that the company is only available in about 80 markets in the U.S.
UpNest vs. Clever Real Estate
A summary of UpNest competitors wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Clever. Here’s more about Clever and how it compares to UpNest:
How Clever Works
Just like Redfin and UpNest, Clever is an online real estate platform that connects users with top-rated agents. Sellers can create an account, fill in their details, and then choose from agents that are specifically recommended for them based on their needs and goals. And, commission rates are pre-negotiated at either 1% or $3,000.
The main value propositions of Clever are:
- Savings of $10,000 on average per transaction
- Connecting with qualified agents in the top 5% of their markets
- Selling your home 2.8x faster
Clever vs. UpNest: The similarities
Clever shares all the same advantages as UpNest. More specifically, in comparing Clever and UpNest, they both check the same boxes in terms of:
- Quick service and communication
- The ability to select an agent with zero obligation
- Lower commission fees
However, Clever does have some advantages worth discussing in greater detail.
Clever vs. UpNest: The differences
While Clever offers every benefit that UpNest does, it also has key advantages that make it stand out from the competition. They include:
- Transparent commission fees: With Clever, commission fees are established from the get-go at 1% or $3,000 depending on the price of the home (1% commission if home price is $350,000 or more; $3,000 flat fee if less than $350,000). Sellers and agents know what to expect with pre-negotiated commissions. Plus, this often results in more savings. Check out Jon P.’s review about this:
- Vetted, top-rated agents: Clever works with agents that are among the top 5% in their markets. This means that every agent they refer is skilled, experienced, and best suited to help close on a home quickly while maximizing savings. UpNest connects users quickly with agents, but there’s no guarantee that the agents in this batch are the perfect fit. While Clever pulls their weight in making sure only to recommend top options, they also give users the freedom to choose the best option – all without the additional worry of negotiating commission. Here’s a review from Eric, who speaks to the quality of Clever real estate agents:
- Speedy selling process: Working with expert agents that are the best in their field means Clever home sellers get offers 2.8X faster than the national average. Check out Heatherlee’s experience selling with Clever and going under contract within three days.
As far as UpNest competitors go, Clever is among the best. Enjoy the same service and amenities for less with a 1% or $3,000 flat rate listing fee. We’ve partnered with Clever to offer top agents that work for less, and you can find local agents here.
Clever is the #1 Alternative to UpNest
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