There are no such things as free real estate leads. Well, that’s not exactly right, at least when it comes to upfront costs for leads.
Because there are providers in the market that offer real estate leads that you only have to pay when you close with them.
You then usually have to pay a referral fee that can range between 25% and 50% of the total gross commission.
In this article, I will discuss how this real estate leads paid at closing concept works, give you 9 providers that offer this service, and show you the risks and benefits of using them.
You will also find out when it makes sense to use them and when not.
How Do Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing Work?
The concept is pretty simple.
There are several providers in the market that offer real estate leads at no upfront costs, and you only pay when you close a deal with the particular lead.
You then pay the provider a referral fee that can range between 25% and 50% of the commission you receive.
Some providers offer exclusive leads while others don’t.
Depending on the exclusivity and the quality of leads, providers can be quite picky and don’t accept any real estate professional as a client for that.
It can also happen that they attach some conditions to the usage of the lead.
For example, they might also want you to pay further referral fees if the lead they referred becomes a repeat customer.
So, many times you don’t really “own” the lead you get.
9 Providers that Offer Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing
In this section, I will give you an overview of 9 providers that offer real estate leads paid at closing.
1) Opcity Real Estate Leads, Now Realtor.com
Opcity is now part of realtor.com. The lead generation services they offer are mainly for real estate brokers.
They offer a product called “ReadyConnect Concierge” that includes pre-screened real estate leads with no upfront costs.
This service product works as follows:
- realtor.com pre-screens sellers and buyers live over the phone (leads are contacted within seconds and qualified with regards to price point, buyer intent, location, and more).
- Suitable agents are identified, notified and matched with the specific client.
- The real estate agent can then connect with the client directly over the phone.
The next lead generation service product is the so-called “ReadyConnect Lead Accelerator”, but it basically does the same thing as “Ready Connect Concierge” so it’s a bit confusing using two different names for actually the same product.
Nevertheless, this service offers paid at closing real estate leads, but only at brokerage level meaning that a solo agent would have only access to these services through their particular broker they are working with.
Which brings me to the fees.
Realtor.com doesn’t disclose on their website what the exact fees are after you close a deal with one of their leads.
The only information I found about the fees was on this page (source).
Here, they repeatedly refer to interested clients to direct the questions with regards to fees to their broker.
The referral agreement is also done at the broker level.
Fees seem to vary depending on different factors, as stated on realtor’s website:
“These fees are determined at the broker level and vary based on a variety of factors, including promotional referrals we may be testing in a given market.”
“Fees for referrals are determined at the broker level and vary based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to our investment in technology and manpower to purchase, pre-screen and match our online leads.”
2) Zillow Flex
Zillow Flex is another real estate leads paid at closing service, which is active in only a few selected markets, such as Pueblo, CO, Fort Collins, CO, Norwich, CT, New Haven CT, Phoenix, AZ, and Atlanta, GA.
You can use this service as a Zillow Premier Agent or as a broker client.
If you are not a Premier Agent, you can put yourself on a sort of waiting list. Zillow calls it an interest list.
As an agent using this service, you will have to update Zillow about your progress toward a closing.
Once you close, you will need to pay a 35% referral fee (source).
Zillow will track your success rate of the leads they give you, since they mention on their FAQ page that as an agent or brokerage with a high closing rate they will give you a larger share of leads from a particular market.
Before Zillow will send you a new lead, they qualify the potential client and check if they are ready to work with an agent. This is done in the same way as using Zillow lead generation just as Zillow Premier Agent.
You can learn more about Zillow Flex here.
HomeLight is the next provider.
They give a bit more details about the process to become an agent that can receive referrals.
In order to find the agent that is best for their buyers, they analyze many different transactions (27 million to be exact) and several thousand reviews.
A matching algorithm is used to find the right fit between agents and qualified referrals.
The algorithm takes many different performance metrics and other data points into consideration such as:
- Your transaction volume by year
- The average number of days on the market (related to properties)
- Based on historical transactions, the price point, property type, and geographic expertise
- The overall success rate with HomeLight referrals
- The relation between the average sales price and average listing price
- Reviews from past clients
- Your response time to HomeLight referrals
So, the better these metrics are, the more referrals you can get with HomeLight.
When you close with a HomeLight referral, you will have to pay a standard broker-to-broker referral fee, which is 25% of half of the total gross commission (why don’t they say 12.5% of the total gross commission?).
This referral fee triggers within two years of the date of the referral and includes multiple transactions.
You can learn more about HomeLight here.
AgentHarvest has a slightly stronger focus on listing referrals.
More than 60% belong to this category and are single family listings in 95% of the cases.
Furthermore, the majority of these referral leads actually want to work with agents, and not just want to use them to gather information.
As with the other providers above, the referral fee (in this case, 25% of the total gross commission) is due at closing, and nothing else has to be paid upfront.
AgentHarvest works only with three agents per geographic area, and the referrals are all sent to these agents at the same time once generated.
Besides listing referrals, the company can also provide you with residential lease referrals at a reduced referral fee of 15%.
You can find further information about AgentHarvest here.
5) Navy Federal – Realty Plus
To get into Navy Federal Realty Plus is not that easy for solo agents as the service is rather addressed to brokers.
The broker first needs to be affiliated with Navy Federal brands, and also needs to have a 96% satisfaction rating or better to get into the referral program.
As per the official website, Better Homes, Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA Real Estate, and Corcoran are currently affiliated with them.
Once a referral is closed, a referral fee becomes due. The amount of the referral fee is not disclosed on the website.
You can learn more about this provider here.
Clever is one of the providers that has quite an interesting fee structure that differs a bit from that of the others.
As with all the other providers, you pay of course nothing upfront.
When you close a home for less than $350,000 you pay a $3,000 flat listing fee. If you close one for more than that, the fee is 1%.
To get into their referral program, you don’t need to be a broker but will also have requirements to fulfill similar to those of other providers, such as:
- Great reviews from past sellers
- Having above-average local market knowledge
- Being a full-time agent that has more than five years of experience
- Having a high technological affinity
- Being an above average negotiator
As of now, Clever has more than 7,000 agents in the referral program nationwide.
You can learn more about them here.
More than 30,000 real estate agents use UpNest to receive pre-screened transaction-ready clients at no upfront costs.
The company itself is a registered brokerage and covers all 50 states of the U.S.
The company generates both seller and buyer clients, and you can communicate with them with the help of UpNest’s app when you are on the move.
Additionally, as an agent, you will have access to an UpNest Advisor that helps you to improve your profile, increase your conversion rate, or help connect with clients.
To be able to work with UpNest as an agent, they also have some requirements you will need to fulfill.
However, they are not as strict as Clever.
The requirements are:
- An active real estate experience of a minimum of 3 years
- A real estate license in good standing
- Great communication skills and a fast response time
- 6 transactions in the past 12 months
- Local market knowledge and expertise
- Knowledge about online marketing techniques and strategies
- Positive online reviews
- Being tech savvy (e.g. a good online presence)
For their service, UpNest charges a referral fee of 30% at the close of a successful transaction.
The fee is based on the total commission the agent receives before a broker split is applied.
When you close a transaction, the referral fee is due 18 months after receiving the particular referred client.
You can learn more about UpNest here.
8) Agent Pronto
The next provider is called Agent Pronto.
They work similar to all the other ones above and match referrals with the right agent.
The selection of the agent is based on her or his profile, such as service areas, production levels, specialties, client preferences, customer ratings, communication, and other criteria.
Once they have a new lead or referral for you, you get notified via email and text message.
The information that will be shared is the first name, city, estimated budget, and a link to a page where you can decide if you accept the referral or not.
There will also be a referral fee which ranges between 25-35% of the gross referred-side commission.
After acceptance, you will receive full access to the client’s contact information.
Agent Pronto also asks you to update your progress with the respective client on a regular basis.
You can learn more about Agent Pronto here.
9) Agent FixUp
Agent FixUp seems to be less competitive for agents than is the case with other paid at closing lead providers.
They only refer one agent in their network to each client.
As is the case with other providers, leads or referrals are pre-screened and matched to the right agent.
The company seems also to be more city-focused and operates in more than 200 cities across the United States.
When you close one of their referrals, you will need to pay a 25% broker-to-broker referral fee.
No further information is disclosed for how long afterward this referral fee can be triggered.
When it comes to agent onboarding, they only ask about how many transactions you have done in the last 12 months.
The rest is just your contact information.
But this doesn’t mean that they don’t take any further performance-based information into consideration.
Because when you look for realtors from a client’s (e.g. seller’s) perspective, you can filter them based on having a lot of experience, getting you the best price, having great communication, and the ability to close fast.
You can learn more about Agent Fixup here.
The Referral Fees of the 9 Providers at A Glance
|AgentHarvest||15 - 25%|
|Clever||1% of transaction value or $3,000 flat|
|Agent Pronto||25 - 35%|
The 4 Benefits and 3 Risks of Using This Type of Real Estate Leads
Getting to the end of this article, I would like to also provide you with a list of the benefits and risks of the above-discussed providers.
The Four Benefits
- Because you don’t have upfront costs, there is no monetary risk when it comes to generating leads.
- Higher chances of getting better quality leads, because if the provider doesn’t give you quality, they don’t get paid.
- You save time by not having to work on your real estate marketing and lead generation methods and strategies.
- Higher chances of receiving exclusive leads.
The Three Risks
- Unfortunately, real estate starters and intermediates that usually have a much higher need for leads will often not get in these programs. As you could see above, they mostly want top agents.
- Referral fees can be pretty high, and depending on your sales and follow-up skills, it might be a better bet to pay for leads upfront with other providers.
- Depending on the referral agreement with such providers, you may have to pay further referral fees from future transactions. You also might not be allowed to market to them long term (e.g. past client marketing).
Conclusion and Final Tips
As an advanced and experienced real estate agent, it can make sense to use providers that offer you leads paid at closing provided you know your key performance indicators.
Because if you know how good you are when it comes to your sales and follow-up skills you might also want to choose a provider that doesn’t have too many strings attached and wouldn’t charge a referral fee too far into the future from the date of the first referral sent to you.
Of course, I wouldn’t use one of these services if you have already a well-oiled and tested real estate marketing machine in place that generates good leads on a consistent basis.
Overall, I would make this decision dependent on the marketing ROI you have in your business.
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