Real estate leads paid at closing maybe the only thing that comes close to free real estate leads.
Well, providers don’t offer it completely free.
Once you close, you must pay a referral fee 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 and analyze eleven providers that offer this service.
In addition, I analyze hundreds of agent reviews about these providers across various platforms such as Reddit, G2, Bigger Pockets, Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and ShopperApproved.
And spoiler alert: there is only one provider that I would pick.
Finally, I will show you the risks and benefits of using this type of real estate lead source, and you will learn when it makes sense to use them and when not.
How Do Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing Work?
The concept is pretty simple.
Several providers in the market 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 between 25% and 50% of your commission.
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, you often don’t really “own” the lead you get.
Something interesting to consider is that in the end, real estate leads you pay when you close are practically real estate referrals.
It’s done more systemically by one company and not just from various partnerships with other agents or real estate professionals.
Real estate referrals I already covered in my articles “How to Crush It With Real Estate Referrals for More Profits” and “How to Do Cross Marketing in Real Estate.”
Now, let’s get into the real estate paid at closing companies.
11 Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing Providers
This section will give an overview of 11 providers offering real estate leads paid at closing.
To further analyze the providers’ performance, I analyzed hundreds of user reviews across eight different platforms: Reddit, G2, Bigger Pockets, Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and ShopperApproved.
To base the pros and cons of each more objectively on a larger data sample, not just my personal assessment.
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 “ReadyConnect Concierge” product 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 regarding 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 “ReadyConnect Lead Accelerator.”
Still, it does the same thing as “Ready Connect Concierge,” so using two different names for the same product is a bit confusing.
Nevertheless, this service offers paid-at-closing real estate leads.
Still, this is only at the brokerage level, meaning that a solo agent would only have access to these services through the particular broker they are working with.
Which brings me to the fees.
Realtor.com doesn’t disclose the exact fees after you close a deal with one of their leads on their website.
The only information I found about the fees was on this page (source).
Here, they repeatedly refer to interested clients to direct the questions concerning 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.”
Opcity Agent Feedback Analysis
Reddit User Feedback (3 years ago):
- Positive Reviews (50%)
- Users closed deals using Opcity.
- Helpful for new agents.
- View Opcity as an extra tool for real estate.
- Negative Reviews (50%)
- Concerns about lead quality.
- Big commission shares.
- Some leads are unqualified or want properties not available.
- Don’t rely only on Opcity. Use other strategies, too.
Bigger Pockets Feedback (5 years ago):
- Positive Reviews (50%)
- Some had success, with deals as big as $10.8 million.
- Lead quality gets better as agents gain experience.
- Negative Reviews (50%)
- Low-quality leads.
- High 35% referral fee.
- Leads often go for cheaper properties.
Better Business Bureau User Feedback (2023):
- Positive (7%)
- This is a small group, but some found value in using the provider.
- Negative (93%)
- Misleading leads.
- Bad customer service.
- High fees.
- Unqualified leads.
Google Play Store User Feedback:
- Positive Reviews (40%)
- Good app features.
- Lead alerts work.
- Manage leads well.
- Negative Reviews (60%)
- Slow app.
- Missed lead opportunities.
- Notification issues.
- The app crashes often.
2) Zillow Flex
Zillow Flex is another real estate leads paid at closing service, 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 broker client.
You can get on a waiting list if you are not a Premier Agent. 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 must pay a 20 to 35% referral fee (source).
The percentage depends on the transaction price in the state in which you conduct business.
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 sends you a new lead, they qualify the potential client and check if they are ready to work with an agent.
This is done the same way as using Zillow lead generation, just as Zillow Premier Agent.
According to Zillow’s FAQ in 2023, you can only participate in Flex by invitation.
The website states that they look for high-performing partners.
However, they don’t provide the detailed performance metrics they expect on this page.
The only place where Zillow does this is on their compliance page here, the “disengagement” section specifically.
You can be kicked out of the program if you do not perform with a 30% answer rate for the last three months and a 60% appointment rate.
Based on this information, it’s safe to assume that you will also need these metrics to get an invitation to participate.
You can learn more about Zillow Flex here.
Zillow Flex Agent Feedback Analysis
Reddit User Feedback
Positive Reviews (33%):
- Some users found Zillow Flex a useful way to jumpstart their real estate career.
- It was mentioned that Zillow Flex provides good-quality leads.
- Users noted that Zillow Flex can help build a pipeline/database of potential clients.
- Some users emphasized the importance of staying in touch with clients, whether they buy or not, to generate referrals.
Negative Reviews (67%):
- Several users mentioned that the quality of leads from Zillow Flex was poor.
- Zillow Flex was criticized for taking a 35% referral fee at each closing.
- Many users expressed concerns about giving away a significant portion of their commission to Zillow.
- Some users warned against relying solely on Zillow Flex for business and recommended finding other ways to generate leads.
- There were mentions of skepticism about Zillow’s intentions as a competitor to real estate agents.
Positive Reviews (15%):
- Dashboard feature for tracking sales, reviews, and leads.
- Some users find leads to be of decent quality.
- Integration with CRM software (KVCore).
- Provides basic property information.
- Allows direct contact with potential clients.
Negative Reviews (85%):
- High cost of leads.
- Inconsistent lead quality, often with unresponsive or unqualified leads.
- Leads are not exclusive, leading to competition with other agents.
- Deceptive sales tactics and false promises.
- Difficulty in canceling subscriptions.
- Complaints about Zillow’s customer service and lack of responsiveness.
- Some users experienced problems with account suspension and system changes.
Bigger Pockets User Feedback
Positive Reviews (15%):
- Some users found success with Zillow Premier Agent, reporting decent returns on investment.
- Effective lead generation if you actively work the leads, with a 15% return mentioned by one user.
- For some, it was a useful way to get buyer leads.
Negative Reviews (85%):
- Many users expressed frustration with Zillow Premier Agent, citing a high cost relative to the quality of leads.
- Some users mentioned that the majority of leads were low-quality or unresponsive.
- The competition among agents for the same leads was seen as a drawback.
- Users questioned the value, with some suggesting that it’s better for established agents with a strong online presence.
- Zillow’s sales pitches were criticized for setting high expectations that were rarely met.
- Some recommended exploring alternative lead generation sources like Vulcan7 or Landvoice.
Apple’s App Store User Feedback
Positive Reviews (28.6%):
- Some users mentioned receiving good-quality leads initially.
- The app is considered helpful for agents on the go.
- Users appreciate the ability to have information at their fingertips.
Negative Reviews (71.4%):
- Many users expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of leads over time.
- Complaints about difficulty canceling the service and continued billing.
- Issues with the app’s functionality, including glitches, disappearing texts, and errors.
- Frustration with the inability to control call flow and filter leads effectively.
- Lack of pre-screening for leads and difficulty in hearing calls.
- Users desire more control over lead preferences.
HomeLight is the next provider.
They give a bit more details about becoming an agent receiving real estate leads.
They analyze many transactions (27 million) and several thousand reviews to find the best agent for their buyers.
A matching algorithm finds 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 the 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 must pay a standard broker-to-broker referral fee, which is 33% of half of the total gross commission, hence 16.5% (source).
This referral fee can be triggered within three years of the date of the referral and includes multiple transactions.
You can learn more about HomeLight here.
HomeLight Agent Feedback Analysis
I discovered an interesting phenomenon while researching user reviews from a real estate professional’s perspective.
While you find many mixed user reviews from sellers and buyers across various platforms, such as Better Business Bureau and Yelp, regarding real estate professionals’ experience with the company, it’s borderline a black box.
Positive Reviews (25%):
- Some users had favorable outcomes and encountered good clients through the platform.
- A user mentioned that the 25% referral fee can be worth it if the referral volume is good.
Negative Reviews (65%):
- Concerns about the transparency of HomeLight’s business operations.
- Dissatisfaction with the 25% referral fee charged to agents.
- Criticism over the lack of clear disclosure that agents are paying for referrals.
- Mediocre lead quality
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, most of these referral leads want to work with agents, 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 simultaneously once generated.
Here, you can find additional information about the requirements to join.
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 Agent Harvest here.
AgentHarvest Agent Feedback Analysis
The situation with reviews from real estate pros who worked with AgentHarvest looks pretty thin.
Not much feedback from sellers and buyer are publicly available.
Clever is one of the providers with quite an interesting fee structure that differs a bit from 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 1.5%.
You don’t need to be a broker to get into their referral program.
Still, you 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
Clever currently has more than 7,000 agents in the referral program nationwide.
You can learn more about them here.
Clever Agent Feedback Analysis
Similar to the last paid-at-closing company, according to my in-depth research, no public sources from real estate professionals give feedback about their experience with leads coming from Clever.
Again, you can only find user reviews from sellers and buyers, leaning toward rather negative experiences.
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
- Six 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 agent’s total commission before applying a broker split.
When you close a transaction, the referral fee is due 18 months after receiving the referred client.
You can learn more about UpNest here.
Upnest Agent Feedback Analysis
My research resulted in only one negligible thread on Reddit, where you can’t draw many conclusions regarding lead results for agents.
7) Agent Pronto
The next provider is called Agent Pronto.
They work similarly to the abovementioned ones 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.
You get notified via email and text once they have a new lead or referral.
The information that will be shared is the first name, city, estimated budget, and a link to a page where you can decide whether to accept the referral.
There will also be a referral fee, which ranges between 25-35% of the gross referred-side commission (source).
After acceptance, you will receive full access to the client’s contact information.
Agent Pronto also asks you to regularly update your progress with the respective client.
You can learn more about Agent Pronto here.
Agent Pronto Agent Feedback Analysis
The same situation appears again with Agent Pronto.
Only one Reddit thread I found with only one reply.
8) 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 with other providers, leads or referrals are pre-screened and matched to the right agent.
The company also seems more city-focused and operates in more than 200 cities across the United States.
You must pay a 25% broker-to-broker referral fee when you close one of their referrals.
No further information about how long this referral fee can be triggered afterward is disclosed.
Regarding agent onboarding, they only ask 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 consider any further performance-based information.
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.
AgentFixUp Agent Feedback Analysis
There was no agent feedback available for Agent FixUp.
9) Rocket Homes Verified Partner Network
The Rocket Homes℠ Verified Partner Agent Network comprises top-rated and experienced real estate agents from over 3,000 counties across all 50 states.
Their strong broker relationships result in high-quality referrals that outperform industry norms.
They offer clients exclusive benefits such as mortgage approval, full contact information confirmation, verified purchase timeframes, no upfront fees, and dedicated support from referral to closing.
To join and maintain eligibility in the network, you must meet strict requirements.
It includes working for an eligible brokerage, having at least 24 months of full-time experience, completing at least eight closed transactions in the past 12 months, undergoing Verified Partner Agent training, and maintaining a high client satisfaction rating.
Here, you can learn more about Rocket Homes.
Rocket Homes Agent Feedback Analysis
Mainly, customer feedback was available across various sources.
From this thread on Reddit, I could analyze the following agent feedback…
Positive Reviews (25%):
- One user had a successful closing experience with Rocket Mortgage.
- Another user mentioned that Rocket Mortgage got their client the best rate and cleared them to close early.
- Some users appreciate the Rocket Pro Insight service.
Negative Reviews (75%):
- Several users had negative experiences with Rocket Mortgage, describing it as a nightmare.
- Users mentioned difficulties and issues during the mortgage process.
- There are concerns about Rocket Mortgage’s ability to handle transactions effectively and professionally.
- Some users expressed a preference for local lenders over Rocket Mortgage.
10) Effective Agents
Effective Agents is a real estate platform connecting home sellers and buyers with top-performing agents in their local area.
The platform uses a data-driven approach to analyze agents’ performance based on their transaction history, customer reviews, and other relevant factors.
By doing so, Effective Agents helps clients find experienced and successful real estate agents who can effectively assist them with their home buying or selling needs.
Home sellers and buyers can use the platform to request a personalized list of recommended agents specifically tailored to their unique requirements and local market conditions.
This enables clients to make informed decisions when choosing an agent, ultimately leading to better outcomes in their real estate transactions.
In summary, Effective Agents is a real estate platform that leverages data-driven analysis to match home sellers and buyers with top-performing local real estate agents, ensuring clients receive expert assistance and guidance throughout their home buying or selling journey.
As an agent, you receive real estate leads you only pay when you close.
A large majority of agents get into their program only by invitation.
You increase your chances of an invitation when you are in the top 3% regarding transactions in your market.
Here, you can check out Effective Agents.
Effective Agents Agent Feedback Analysis
The only source with sufficient data for the feedback analysis I could find on shopperapproved.
This is what I found…
Positive Reviews (93.1%):
- Highly recommended!
- Good leads and good people at the company.
- Very smooth operation.
- Easy to communicate with and responsive.
- They are great to work with!!
Negative Reviews (6.9%):
- Leads are very cold.
- We have not converted many leads from your source in the past few months.
11) Referral Cloud
Referral Cloud is a platform that connects real estate agents with high-quality referrals from multiple sources.
It aims to help agents grow their business by providing them with a steady stream of potential clients.
The platform gathers leads from various referral partners, such as real estate websites, lead generation companies, and other industry-related sources.
Using Referral Cloud, you can save time and effort searching for potential clients and focus on closing deals.
The platform is designed to streamline the referral process, ensuring that agents receive relevant leads tailored to their expertise and target market.
You can manage your referrals, track progress, and communicate with potential clients through the platform’s interface.
You pay a 35% referral fee when you close.
Here, you can check out Referral Cloud.
Referral Cloud Agent Feedback Analysis
There was no agent feedback available for Agent FixUp.
Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing 11 Providers at A Glance (Including Fees)
|Provider||Referral Fee||Requirements to Join and/or Stay||Pros Based on Agent Reviews||Cons Based on Agent Reviews|
|Realtor||n/a||n/a, agreement is done on broker level||Users have successfully closed deals, beneficial for new agents, emphasizes quick appointment-making,quality of leads tends to improve with experience, efficient lead alerts||Concerns about the quality of leads, high referral fees, risk of becoming too dependent on the platform, app performance on the Google Play Store is subpar.|
|Zillow Flex||35%||30% answer rate over the last 3 months.|
60% appointment rate over the last 3 months, additional information here
|Useful for jumpstarting real estate careers, comprehensive dashboard for sales, reviews, and leads, the app caters to agents on the go||Poor lead quality, financial concerns with Zillow's model, caution against over-relying on Zillow, competition for the same non-exclusive leads, deceptive sales approaches, difficulties with cancelation and billing problems, functionality problems in the app|
|Homelight||12.5%||Transaction volume by year, the average number of days on the market, price point, property type, and geographic expertise, success rate with HomeLight referrals, the relation between the average sales price and the average listing price, reviews from past clients, response time to HomeLight referrals||Several users have had successful outcomes, the 25% referral fee is considered valuable by some||Concerns regarding transparency, dissatisfaction with the 25% referral fee, some users experienced unsolicited phone calls and text messages, mediocre lead quality|
|Agent Harvest||15 - 25%||Proof of expertise (awards or rankings), pledge of customer-focused service (testimonials from 5 recent clients), additional information here||n/a||n/a|
|Clever||1% of transaction value or $3,000 flat||Great reviews from past sellers, above-average local market knowledge, being over five years full-time agent, having a high technological affinity, being an above-average negotiator||n/a||n/a|
|Upnest||30%||Real estate experience of a minimum of 3 years, real estate license in good standing, great communication skills and a fast response time, six transactions in the past 12 months, local market knowledge and expertise, knowledge about online marketing techniques and strategies, positive online reviews, being tech savvy||n/a||n/a|
|Agent Pronto||25 - 35%||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Agent FixUp||25%||The number of transactions over the last 12 months and likely also experience, getting you the best price, great communication, the ability to close fast.||n/a||n/a|
|Rocket Homes Verified Partner Network||n/a||Working for an eligible brokerage, 24 months of full-time experience, eight closed transactions in the past 12 months, undergoing Verified Partner Agent training, a high client satisfaction rating||Successful closing experience, ability to offer the best rates and expedite clearances for early closures, the Rocket Pro Insight service||Many users described their experience as a nightmare, challenges and difficulties during the mortgage process, concerns about the capability to proficiently handle transactions|
|Effective Agents||n/a||Almost only by invitation when you are in the top 3% regarding transactions in your market.||Highly recommended by many users, good leads, operations are characterized as smooth, commended for its effectiveness in matching agents with potential buyers and sellers||Leads are often very cold. users have not been converting many of these leads|
The 4 Benefits and 5 Risks of Using Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing
The concept of real estate leads paid at closing sounds enticing at first glance.
Before I conclude based on the above analysis, let’s discuss the benefits and risks of why this model of getting real estate leads can be interesting (with the proper company).
The Four Benefits of Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing
- Because you don’t have upfront costs, there is no monetary risk when generating leads.
- You have a higher chance of getting better quality leads because they don’t get paid if the provider doesn’t give you quality.
- 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 Five Risks of Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing
- Unfortunately, real estate starters and intermediates that usually have a much higher need for leads will often not get into these programs. As you can 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 for future transactions. You also might not be allowed to market to them long-term (e.g., past client marketing).
- You can waste time creating opportunity costs with cold leads and poor-quality ones.
- Depending on the provider, you will compete with many agents for the same non-exclusive leads.
Deciding on Whether Real Estate Leads Paid at Closing Are for You (Conclusion)
Let’s first have a look at the following diagram.
This diagram is based on the results I got from the analyzed agent feedback on five of the eleven providers.
For the other providers, the feedback data was either non-existent or way too thin to consider for analysis.
Of these five providers, only one (Effective Agents) had more positive than negative agent feedback.
Based on this information only, we can already conclude that the reality of paid-at-closing real estate leads contrasts pretty significantly with the enticing concept it presents at first glance.
So, I would only bet my money on one of these eleven companies at the moment.
In addition to the agent feedback analysis, you want to consider your individual business situation.
As an advanced and experienced real estate agent, it can make sense to use providers offering you leads paid at closing, provided you know your key performance indicators.
Suppose you know how good you are regarding your sales and follow-up skills.
In that case, 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 already have a well-oiled and tested real estate marketing machine that generates good leads consistently.
You may rather want to diversify your lead sources with other marketing channels.
Overall, I would make this decision dependent on the marketing ROI you want to achieve for your business.
You can use the decision tree below to help you decide on real estate leads you pay when you close.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.
- Real Estate Leads Pay at Closing vs. Relocation Deals - October 7, 2023
- Pay at Closing Real Estate Leads vs. Upfront Payments - October 6, 2023
- Real Estate Leads Pay at Closing vs. Partnerships - October 5, 2023