HomeLight Review: Prices, Features, Reviews, and Alternatives

homelight5Today we’re going to explore an out-of-the-box method of marketing and advertising for real estate agents by looking into the site HomeLight.

HomeLight has a unique take on how clients can buy and sell their homes, which has benefits for both you as an agent and your clients.  

We’re going to cover the features that have the most impact for your business. Plus pros and cons of the site’s offerings. I also have some thoughts about who exactly HomeLight would work best for and why. 

There are some definite perks to adding your name to HomeLight as an agent, but it could prove not worth the cost for you if you already have a robust client list. I’d recommend weighing your options as it could also be a huge time saver to consider. 

Quick summary of HomeLight

As agents, marketing ourselves is half the battle. How do we stand out? How do we help clients trust us? The list of questions goes on and on. HomeLight sort of solves all of those questions by marketing to buyers and sellers for you. 

They help narrow down a handful of agents to match incoming clients with who then get to decide the best agent for them. That way you don’t have to sell yourself.  

Also, there is a built-in guarantee of sale for your clients home with their: 

  • Buy Before You Sell Program
  • And… after 90 days listed HomeLight will buy your client’s house

Pretty big promises if you ask me. Have I peaked your curiosity? Let’s dive in and see how they plan to deliver. Then make some decisions on whether they could be a benefit to your real estate career!  

HomeLight features

Screen Shot 2023-11-10 at 1.46.57 PMHomeLight’s features are geared towards the consumer, which in this case is the buyer/seller… your client. If you choose to sign up to work with HomeLight your biggest benefit from what I can tell is that your clients will have a built-in trust with you as their agent.

As you’re going through the features your client will experience with me, keep in mind how you can use Homelight as a marketing tool to save you money…  

Referral Program

HomeLight matches buyers/sellers with agents in their area to interview, and they choose the agent they want to work with. You don’t have to deal with leads at all, they are routed directly to you.  All you have to do is claim your referral, interview, and you have ready-to-go clients at your door. 

Why it’s useful: You’re saving time. The clients you are speaking with have been matched specifically to you. You have been vetted as an agent, they have been vetted as a client, and now you just have to decide if you’re ready to work together to close a deal on their house!

Buy Before You Sell 

This feature allows your client to unlock the equity they have in their home to buy their new home before they sell. Once you enroll your client into the program HomeLight gives the money up front so you can make strong offers for your client’s next home, and list their current home as vacant. 

Why it’s useful: First and foremost your client is going to have an easier time closing on their next home as non-contingent buyers. It’s typically easier to sell a vacant home, and you can more easily stage it if you need. Also, all of this costs you nothing. When you sell their listing, you get paid. Only then do you pay their referral fees. You can close on the buy of their next home in 12 days. Another pay day for you.

Screen Shot 2023-11-10 at 1.46.01 PMMarketing Geared Towards Client 

HomeLight doesn’t seem to be in the business of recruiting agents. They’re recruiting clients. All of their marketing, for the most part, is geared towards consumer benefits and why using HomeLife is a beneficial service for buyers and sellers to find the right agent for them.  

Why it’s useful: You can save money on advertising for new leads. Instead of spinning your tires, warming up leads, or finding new ways to advertise yourself as an agent, they’re already doing the leg work for you there. So, you get to spend more time focused on actually closing deals. 

HomeLight Will Buy Client’s House  

Here’s a really cool feature to help put both you and your client at ease. If you have entered your client in the Buy Before You Sell program, you have 10 days to list their prior home, and 90 days to get it under contract. If after 90 days you haven’t sold their prior home HomeLight will buy it at market value and use you as the listing agent.   

Why it’s useful: Again, this is what will help your clients have a guarantee that they can make a sound offer for their next home. No matter what, your client knows they can move forward to their next home while you can focus solely on the sale of their prior home without the stress and pressure. Sometimes, that’s the best medicine for getting the highest dollar price in my experience! 

HomeLight pricing

All of this seems a little too good to be true, but the more I dig… the more the pricing and fees seem to be very straightforward and to the point. I find that reassuring. In fact, the fees and charges are all laid out for both the client and agent on their site with customer support available. 

I don’t know about you, but I love a grid to keep things extra simple in what could be very complicated. Check out the fee structure below:

homelight1

You may be curious about that referral fee, well they’ve got that covered for you too. Not only that, they recently raised the rate from 25% to 33%, but they tell you why and it largely has to do with their increase in advertising for clients. Which, if you remember in the features section above, could potentially save you money in your own advertising. 

homelight

Biggest pros

I admit I was pretty skeptical when I first started researching HomeLight, because honestly it seemed a little too good to be true. Which is good and bad… for me it meant a harsher lens when reviewing, and I found some really great pros that made me feel much more at ease, largely because well… from what I have found, they are true

No Upfront Cost for the Agent

This is huge. Advertising, lead gen, CRM programs, etc. can all pack a pretty punch to the wallet. If you’re using HomeLight as your main source of getting clients, the site is free, until you make a transaction. Only when you get paid your commission do you have to pay HomeLight.  

homelight6Buy Before You Sell Program

This is the one that got me with a raised eyebrow… and now makes total sense. Your clients are given their qualified equity upfront to buy their next home so you can both find them a new home then focus on selling their prior home. This is a win, win for you and them. Helps you solidify your relationship with your client, because their stress is mitigated with their upfront cash. And you now get to focus solely on selling their home while they settle into their new home with a guarantee from HomeLight that they will buy the house after 90 days.    

Funnel of Clients Coming In

So, while you are saving money and time on lead gen and advertising HomeLight is matching you with clients in your area. Their focus is on the client experience, with a little white glove service as it seems. They’re not a brokerage, so, if you choose to sign up as an agent with them you’re among a pre-qualified list of agents that clients will already feel comfortable with.

Biggest cons

I already let the cat out of the bag that I was skeptical of HomeLight, and here are a couple of things to consider before you decide to join. 

The Referral Fee  

I was really curious about how they made money, and then I got it. It’s off of the referral fee, which seemed a touch hefty at 33%. Then, I remembered, I used to make referral deals ALL THE TIME with other agencies in my niche neighborhood and ultimately found them fruitful and time saving. I also remembered those referral deals were often anywhere between 30-50%. So while initially, I balked at the referral fee… the benefits of their promises far outweighed the cost considering the ease of stress, marketing, and transaction.

Several Agents   

As we know, this industry is highly competitive. It seems that there are quite a few agents that could be listed with HomeLight, so you are truly at the mercy of opinion and their marketing to stand out. But, that’s true all of the time even without using this site. Where I think this site helps regardless, is that the choice is narrowed down for the client with validation that you are a good agent for them by the time you get to interact.   

Who is HomeLife best for?

Let’s see if you identify with one of these categories of who HomeLight would work best for…  

homelight7

Agents who are just getting started.

Okay, so you’re just starting out and making a career change perhaps after classes, tests, and advertising expenses (photos, ads, etc.) you may be tight on cash. Also, you probably don’t have very many clients yet. This is where I think HomeLight can really benefit you in helping you get your real estate career off to a good start. They match you with clients, and you have a bit of a guardrail for funds in closing with security.  

Agents in large cities. 

The industry is competitive as it is, but in large markets you need extra validation. The top agencies already have that and it can take years to get to that level.  With HomeLight you have that built in, and room to grow your business faster.  

Who’s it not good for?

While the features are great for most agents, there is one group that I don’t see a huge benefit for the agent. 

Agents who work in smaller markets.

Agents in smaller cities may not need to be matched with clients. In smaller cities clients typically cut out the middleman and go directly to the agency. You wouldn’t want to give up a referral fee if you don’t have to.  

What other users say

Overall the reviews for HomeLight are fairly mixed. I think largely for the same reasons that I have mentioned. It doesn’t hurt you to have another tool to market yourself, but is it necessary? 

That being said, if the buy before you sell method becomes common practice in the market then, you’ll be ahead of the game. It also is getting positive feedback from agents who are using it as a method of getting more leads. 

HomeLight Alternatives

If this sounds like a good site to help you bolster your advertising there are a couple more you can consider adding as well. 

  • Upnest. They allow clients to browse agent profiles and find the best match.
  • Orchard. They also have a buy before you sell program, which is a great incentive for clients.

The final verdict

Ultimately I think another way to advertise yourself for free is a win, win. While, yes you’ll have to pay them a referral fee, adding HomeLight to your marketing plan could make a positive impact to your career as an agent. 

Sources

About the Author

Jim Gray got licensed in 2013 and sold 57 houses in his first year. Over the next 6 1/2 years he went on to sell 437 homes with a small team. He went on to manage the lead generation department of the 13th largest expansion team at Keller Williams and designed lead generation and conversion systems for 60 agents in 7 locations in 4 states that drove 600 home sales in a 2 year period. Jim currently does real estate team development and coaching for some of the largest real estate teams in the country.

Last Updated: 2/23/2024