What is UpNest?
UpNest is a company that matches you with a local real estate agent if you’re looking to buy or sell a home. Like all agent matching services, it’s free to use and comes with no obligations.
UpNest is unique in that, after you sign up to find an agent, those agents compete with one another for your business. The idea is that this competition incentivizes agents to offer lower rates.
In reality, while many UpNest agents do offer discounted rates, our mystery shoppers found the savings are usually pretty small — similar to what you may be able to negotiate on your own. Unlike some other competing services, UpNest doesn’t offer guaranteed savings, and a lot of UpNest agents don’t offer any discounts.
If you’re looking for the best rates on an agent, check out our friends at Clever Real Estate. Clever delivers the same no-cost agent matching service as UpNest. But it pre-negotiates much larger savings on your behalf.
Sellers can list their home with a top local agent for a 1% listing fee. Buyers can get 0.5% of the purchase price in cash back after closing. Clever’s savings are guaranteed, no matter which agent you choose or where you live.
✍️ Key Takeaways
- Agent quality is good at UpNest, with most realtors having impressive sales records.
- Customer service is a mixed bag: UpNest offers an easy-to-use online dashboard, but its representatives are difficult to reach and sometimes weren’t able to answer basic questions.
- Savings are limited. Listing fees in UpNest proposals are typically about 2-2.5% vs. the typical 2.5-3%. Other companies offer better rates without skimping on quality.
Who is UpNest best for?
UpNest is good for you if you’re selling a house and:
- Your number one priority is finding a good agent
- You don’t care about saving money
- You’re not concerned about customer service
Agent quality is where UpNest performs especially well and most agents you get matched with are likely to have strong sales records. But watch out, because sometimes UpNest’s algorithm doesn’t get it right and may try to match you with an agent who may not even work much in your area — as happened to our mystery shoppers.
If you’re a buyer, then UpNest’s buyer rebate program could potentially save you money. But beware that it comes with a lot of restrictions and other companies may offer better savings for buyers.
UpNest isn’t the only agent matching service and we strongly recommend comparing your options. UpNest’s savings and customer service leave a lot to be desired and if either of those are important to you (and we think they should be!) you can do better with one of UpNest’s competitors.
Top UpNest alternatives in 2022
It’s always a good idea to shop around for the best real estate agent. We recommend trying out a couple of the following agent matching services alongside UpNest to make sure you’re getting a top agent for the best price.
Clever Real Estate offers double the savings
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 UpNest, Clever is a free service that connects buyers and sellers with top local agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and RE/MAX.
Both Clever and UpNest provide thoughtful agent matches, so you can compare your options and find the realtor who’s best for you.
The biggest difference between Clever and UpNest is that Clever offers double the savings. Though UpNest’s model encourages agents to offer lower commission rates for sellers and rebates for buyers, the savings you’ll get are minimal and inconsistent. Most UpNest agents charge 2-2.5%, which isn’t much less than the average commission rate in most locations.
Clever offers guaranteed full service for just a 1% listing fee, saving the average home seller thousands more than they’d get with UpNest. Buyers can also earn a cash-back refund worth 0.5% of the purchase price, putting even more money in your pocket when you find your agent through Clever.
Ideal Agent offers fewer agents, but better service
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 another no-cost agent matching service that offers customers discounted commission rates.
However, while UpNest provides buyers and sellers two to six agent matches to choose from, Ideal Agent only delivers one match.
Ideal Agent’s agent network is much smaller than UpNest’s (2,000 agents vs. 14,000), so coverage can be spotty, especially outside of major cities.
However, Ideal Agent’s customer service tends to be better than UpNest’s. Like Clever, all of Ideal Agent’s Concierges are licensed realtors, so they can better provide you with knowledgeable real estate advice.
Realtors who work with Ideal Agent will list your home for a 2% commission plus a 2.5% buyer’s agent commission.
» MORE: Read our full Ideal Agent review
HomeLight has a lot more agents to choose from
- Automated match process
- Impressive localized coverage
- No built-in commission savings
HomeLight is the largest agent matching service in America, with more than 28,000 agents in its network. That means more choice in terms of agents and brokerages relative to its competitors — particularly in rural and small town markets. The agent matching process is fully automated, which makes it a bit more streamlined but also comes with some quality risks. HomeLight does not offer any kind of commission savings for home sellers or buyers.
- Well-known and established agent matching service
- More choice in terms of agents and brokerages
- May offer better coverage in small towns and rural markets
- Does not pre-negotiate savings for customers
- Process is 100% automated — lack of human oversight can result in bad matches
- Many customer reviews cite unsolicited calls and spam emails after signing up on the HomeLight website
Sellers who are just looking to compare agents fast and aren’t worried about savings.
HomeLight is a real estate company that offers an agent matching service with an easy-to-use online platform.
Compared with UpNest’s agent network of 14,000, HomeLight’s is double the size, so realtor matches are good in terms of local area knowledge. But HomeLight doesn’t screen its agents for quality and experience — any agent can sign up, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get matched with a good realtor.
HomeLight doesn’t pre-negotiate discounted rates with its agents. So, if you are looking for savings, it’s not the service for you.
» MORE: Read our full HomeLight review
Pros and cons
|✅ Pros||⛔️ Cons|
|✅ Sign-up is simple and agent matches arrive quickly||⛔️ Savings are inconsistent and often minimal compared to other options|
|✅ Agent matches are usually on target||⛔️ UpNest Advisers are difficult to reach|
|✅ Customer dashboard facilitates comparison shopping||⛔️ UpNest Advisers are sometimes helpful, but sometimes really not|
✅ UpNest pros
- It only takes a few minutes to sign up for UpNest. Once you’ve signed up, your agent matches arrive fast. Some populate immediately, and most arrive within 60 minutes. Our mystery shoppers were usually in contact with an agent within an hour of signing up for UpNest.
- In our shoppers’ experience, all of UpNest’s agent matches were good, even in rural areas where some other agent matching services struggle. Realtors had solid track records and credible experience in their targeted neighborhoods. However, we occasionally got agents recommended to us who were a bad fit — with the most common problem being that a few had very little experience in our mystery shopper’s neighborhood.
- The UpNest customer dashboard is one of the best our shoppers have seen. The proposals agents deliver through the dashboard are full of useful information that helps streamline the agent shopping process. That information included statistics on experience and sales, answers to common questions, and services that are and aren’t included in their price.
⛔️ UpNest cons
- Because commission rates aren’t pre-negotiated, savings aren’t guaranteed. We found discounts varied from several thousand dollars to effectively zero. The lowest listing fee rate we saw in a proposal was 2%, not great compared with the typical 2.5-3% rate.
- Most UpNest Advisers we spoke to were helpful and knowledgeable, but some struggled with even basic questions about real estate and UpNest’s services. One UpNest Adviser couldn’t tell us what typical real estate commission equals to and was unable to answer a simple question like, “Can you tell me a little more about how UpNest works?”
- Our shoppers had a hard time getting in touch with anyone from UpNest. One of our shoppers never spoke to their Adviser, as he never answered his phone. UpNest appears to keep Pacific time business hours, and doesn’t answer its main phone line until after 11 a.m. Eastern time. Even then, many calls go unanswered.
|Weighted avg.||4.6/5 (4,267 total reviews)|
|Better Business Bureau||4.9/5 (114 total reviews)|
|4.8/5 (286 total reviews)|
|4.8/5 (208.0 total reviews)|
|Shopper Approved||4.6/5 (3,659 total reviews)|
UpNest reviews online are generally positive and the company has an average rating of 4.6 out of 4,267 total reviews. A few common themes came up in reviews — both among those who like UpNest’s service and among those who felt let down. Here’s a summary of what we found.
What customers give UpNest top marks for
Customers were often especially pleased with the agents they found through UpNest. Many customer reviews noted that their UpNest agents seemed to be especially good at their jobs. We believe this likely reflects the fact that UpNest does a good job at vetting agents and requiring them to meet specific performance criteria.
Customers were also generally pleased with how easy and fast UpNest’s online dashboard is. Indeed, our mystery shoppers also found UpNest’s online dashboard made comparing agents very easy and helped take some of the stress out of finding an agent.
Where customers felt let down by UpNest
Poor customer service was the focus of many UpNest complaints. Customers found that UpNest representatives were often difficult to get a hold of and not great at answering questions.
Our mystery shoppers felt the same. We often had trouble getting through to UpNest via phone or their chat box, even during business hours.
This is a big issue because if you have a problem with the agent UpNest matches you with, you want UpNest to help resolve the situation. If your UpNest representative is difficult to reach, then you could largely be left on your own to deal with any agent problems.
Is UpNest legitimate?
Yes, UpNest is a legitimate, licensed real estate brokerage with headquarters in California. Agent matching services must hold brokerage licenses to collect payment from the agents they work with, which is how they make money.
UpNest reviews from past customers are generally positive, with a rating of 4.6 out of 4,267 reviews. The company is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, where it has an A+ rating.
Current CEO Simon Ru founded the company LessThan6Percent in 2013, followed by UpNest in 2014. At first, LessThan6Percent was an agent matching service for sellers, while UpNest was for buyers. Both companies used the same model, encouraging commission discounts through competitive bidding among agents.
Ru combined the two companies into UpNest in November 2014, serving both buyers and sellers. The company claims to have helped more than 500,000 customers through its network of 14,000 agents.
UpNest: Company info
|description 1||description 2|
|Public or private company?||Private|
|Number of employees||11-50|
How does UpNest make money?
UpNest takes a percentage of the commission its partner agents earn on deals for buyers and sellers referred through UpNest. This is known as a referral fee, and it’s how all agent matching services make money.
UpNest also has a home loan service that presumably makes money for the company.
✍ Editor’s note
If you’ve decided UpNest is the best agent matching service for you, don’t assume that its home loan service is as well. Always research complementary services independently. Check out at least 2-3 options so you can comparison shop and determine the one that best meets your needs.
UpNest for agents: Why do realtors work with UpNest?
Compared to other means of marketing and advertising, joining the UpNest agent network and paying a referral fee to the company for successful sales offers a more cost-effective and lower risk way for realtors to find new customers.
Real estate agents typically spend a lot of time and money on marketing to attract new business. There’s no guarantee that those investments will generate returns, since not every deal closes. Plus, this takes time away from working on deals, which is how realtors make money.
UpNest delivers a steady stream of new prospective customers to agents at no upfront cost. This lowers the agent’s risk, since they only have to pay UpNest for deals that close. It also saves the agent time, which allows them to close more deals.
The bottom line is a higher volume of customer leads means agents can earn less on each deal (by offering lower commission rates, providing buyer rebates, and paying referral fees) and still turn a profit while growing their businesses.
How does UpNest work?
You need to sign up via UpNest’s website, where you’ll be asked to provide basic information about your sale or purchase, such as:
- If you’re looking to buy, sell, or both
- Your timeline
- The type of property you’re buying or selling
- Your current address (if selling)
- Your contact information
Once you’ve entered this information, you’ll be directed to your customer dashboard. Agents interested in working with you will send their proposals through the dashboard.
Some of our mystery shoppers received proposals automatically upon signup. Others had to wait a bit. UpNest displayed a list of local agents who our shoppers could “invite” to bid for their business while they waited.
Aside from the handful of proposals that came automatically, most of our shoppers’ proposals arrived within 10 minutes to an hour. A few rolled in over the next two days. We assume that proposals arrive as agents confirm their availability and interest in working with you.
Also, immediately after signing up, an UpNest Adviser (sometimes referred to as your “account manager”) called our shoppers and emailed to check in. The Adviser provided some introductory information about UpNest and how the matching process works.
UpNest agent proposals
UpNest’s agent proposals provide a ton of details and helpful information to assist you as you choose a realtor, outclassing most similar services. Most competitors only provide basic information about your agent matches, like their Zillow rating and number of recent sales.
The commission rate is prominently displayed is one of the first things you’ll see:
In addition to the commission rate, UpNest’s agent proposals include:
- The agent’s refund rate for buyers.
- A savings calculator so you can see how the figures add up for your particular sale.
- Statistics like the agent’s number of years of experience and sales in your area.
- Video and audio messages from the agent explaining their background and the advantages of working with them.
- A Q&A section where the agent shares their views on common real estate questions.
- Reviews from past customers.
You’ll also see an itemized list of what services the agent includes, either for free or for an additional fee, like professional photography, printed fliers, and home staging:
📌 A note about agent communication
Some UpNest agents never reached out to our mystery shoppers after delivering their proposals.
This differs from other agent matching services. Once you’re matched, agents typically call you right away and follow up regularly (and frequently!) via email, phone, and text.
While it can feel overwhelming to be inundated with agent outreach, a lack of communication might feel like a different problem: a lack of interest from the agents on UpNest.
That said, UpNest may be a good fit if you prefer to make the first move and contact your agent matches yourself. But if you’re timid and would rather your agent matches call you, another service might be a better option.
How much does UpNest cost?
UpNest’s agent matching service is free to use as a buyer or seller (all agent matching services are). But if you’re selling, you have to cover the realtors’ commissions. Typically, you’ll pay 5-6% of the sale price, with half going to your listing agent and half going to the seller’s agent.
UpNest’s “marketplace” model encourages agents to lower their commission rates. Realtors present proposals to buyers and sellers, essentially competing with each other to earn the customer’s business.
The proposals include the agent’s argument for being best-suited for the sale. Most times, the agent will offer slightly discounted commission in the proposal to make it more enticing. Often, they’ll also reduce the buyer’s agent commission to save a seller even more money. (Read more about this practice here.)
For buyers, UpNest agents usually offer a commission rebate. The agent applies a percentage of their commission earnings towards certain sale-related expenses, such as closing costs.
How much can sellers save with UpNest?
Our research found that seller savings vary widely, and there are no guarantees.
Based on our shoppers’ experience, on UpNest you can expect to save from 0.05-1% on the typical 2.5-3% listing agent commission. Compared to other agent matching services, that isn’t much.
Here’s an example based on a $400,000 home sale.
|UpNest*||Clever Real Estate||Traditional agent|
|Buyer's agent fee (3%)||$12,000||$12,000||$12,000|
|Total commission fee||$20,000||$16,000||$24,000|
Using UpNest, the biggest savings our shoppers scored was a 2% listing fee. In fact, many agents didn’t offer any discounts and we could have gotten the same rate by just finding a realtor on our own.
Other agent matching services offer agents who — like on UpNest — have strong sales records and work for name brand brokerages, like RE/MAX and Berkshire Hathaway. But they also offer much better rates.
The 2% rate you may be able to get on UpNest, for example, is only on par with competitor Ideal Agent and half of Clever‘s built-in rate of 1%. And with both of those services you’ll still get a vetted, top local agent.
🚨 Beware of savings that come from a lower buyer’s agent fee
Some UpNest agents’ proposals seek to lower costs for sellers by reducing the buyer’s agent commission (typically 2.5-3%). Most of our shoppers’ proposals featured a buyer’s agent commission 0.5-1% lower than the nationwide average.
It’s true that lowering the buyer’s agent commission can save sellers money. But this approach isn’t unique to UpNest.
No matter how you sell your home, you control the buyer’s agent commission. Technically, you can always offer less if you want to — or none at all.
However, lowering the buyer’s agent commission can be risky in some situations. If you decrease it too much, some buyer’s agents may lose the incentive to show your home to their clients because they know they’ll potentially earn less on your deal than on others offering higher rates.
In a hot seller’s market or on an especially attractive property, you may be able to drop the buyer’s agent commission a bit without negative repercussions.
Can buyers save money with UpNest?
Yes, most UpNest agent proposals for buyers include what the company calls a home buyer rebate. More widely known as a commission rebate, this is a financial incentive some realtors offer to attract new clients.
With a commission rebate, the real estate agent shares a portion of their commission on the deal with the buyer. These funds are typically issued as credits that can only be spent in certain ways, like on the buyer’s closing costs.
Commission rebates are regulated. They require approval from your lender and are not available in eight states (see below).
If you qualify for a home buyer rebate, UpNest agents generally offer between 0.3-0.75% of the sale price. On a $400,000 home sale, this equals $1,500-3,000.
Overall, we don’t think UpNest’s home buyer rebate is that great. Other companies offer better savings for buyers and more flexibility. We recommend checking out our list of the top home buyer rebate programs to see which one can save you the most money.
🚨 Buyer rebates aren’t legal everywhere
As of this writing, commission rebates are prohibited in eight states:
📌 Important note if you’re buying and selling
UpNest’s agent proposals only show the agent’s listing discount, not their commission rebate percentage. However, our shoppers checked with an UpNest representative who told us you can ask each agent directly about their commission rebate percentage. We recommend doing this upfront before you sign with an agent, so there’s no confusion later in the process.
✍ Editor’s note
As part of its incentives for home buyers, UpNest offers a $150 Amazon gift card. UpNest Advisers use this as a selling point for the service. In UpNest reviews posted online, many past UpNest customers seem more excited about the Amazon gift card than their realtor’s performance or commission savings.
While Amazon gift cards certainly come in handy when moving into a new place, $150 is pocket change compared to the investment of a home. Don’t let such a minimal incentive sway your decision when choosing a realtor.
Bottom line: Should I work with UpNest?
UpNest is a free service and there’s no obligation to work with one of its agents once you sign up, so there’s no harm in trying it out.
UpNest is easy to use. It provides agent matches quickly, and its dashboard facilitates comparison shopping.
We like that UpNest encourages agents to drop their rates to help buyers and sellers save money. But our friends at Clever do that, too. And Clever’s rates are better and guaranteed no matter which agent you choose.
To get the best possible value, try both free services and see how the agents stack up!
Is UpNest legitimate?
Yes, UpNest is a legitimate and licensed agent matching service. However, the commission discounts UpNest agents offer are inconsistent and misleading. UpNest doesn’t guarantee savings and most customers can find better rates elsewhere. Compare the top 10 low commission real estate companies.
UpNest vs. Clever: What’s the difference?
Both UpNest and Clever offer high-quality real estate agents, but Clever does better in terms of savings and customer service. With Clever, agents charge a listing fee of just 1%, whereas with UpNest agents tend to charge around 2-2.5%. Compare the best discount real estate brands now!
HomeLight vs. UpNest: What’s the difference?
HomeLight and UpNest will both match you with a local real estate agent for free. But while HomeLight has a lot more agents to choose from, it doesn’t offer any savings. On UpNest, agents typically charge a listing fee of 2-2.5% versus HomeLight’s 2.5-3%. Read our full HomeLight review.
Redfin vs. UpNest: What’s the difference?
Unlike UpNest, Redfin hires its own real estate agents instead of matching you with an outside agent. Redfin also offers guaranteed discounts, with its standard listing fee of 1.5% better than the average listing fee of 2-2.5% typically available on UpNest. Read our full ranking of the best discount real estate companies.
What is the UpNest referral fee?
Commission rates for realtors on UpNest vary and discounts aren’t guaranteed. Some agents may offer reduced commission rates of around 2-2.5%, which isn’t much better than the 2.5-3% that traditional agents offer. Alternative services offer better rates. Check out the best 1% commission realtors.
We strive to deliver objective reviews. The Real Estate Witch Team and its mystery shoppers tested and researched UpNest and 10 other agent matching services over a six-week period. We regularly update this and all of our reviews to ensure they’re accurate and continue to provide relevant information. Our goal is to help you find an agent who can get you the best possible value when you buy or sell your home.
How To Choose a Realtor: The Complete Guide: Don’t sign a contract with a real estate agent until you read this! It’s full of tips to find the best realtor for your needs.
Top 10 Low Commission Real Estate Agents + Top Companies: Want to save money when buying or selling your home? Check out this list of companies that help you save on commissions.
How Does a 3% Real Estate Commission Work?: Commissions can be confusing! This article explains how they work and how you can get lower rates when selling your home.