Buying or selling a home is a time-consuming and emotionally draining process.
When you’re buying a home, your excitement can sometimes overcome what logically makes sense for your family and your wallet – so you may overspend. If you don’t have a good agent on your side, they’ll push you to get into the home any way they can (trust me, I had this happen).
When you’re selling a home, it’s easy to get anxious if things don’t move quickly. Many agents will push you to lower the price so they can get the sale and be done (trust me, I’ve had this happen as well).
The fact is, finding a top-performing and (even more importantly) trustworthy real estate agent these days is nearly impossible without doing a ton of legwork and research.
HomeLight is a company that was founded by Drew Uher after he realized how difficult it was for him and his wife to find a good agent themselves. The company’s objective is to help you find a great real estate agent without putting yourself through a ton of hassle.
But does it work?
What is HomeLight?
HomeLight is a website that helps home buyers find the highest-performing real estate agents in their local area by using a proprietary algorithm. By aggregating over 100 data sources nationwide, HomeLight is able to identify the best real estate agent for a client’s specific needs (they’ve had 950,000+ clients and counting!) For example, you can find agents who:
- Specialize in home buyers.
- Have the best negotiation track record.
- Have the best transaction close rates.
HomeLight has data on 2.5 million real estate agents and over 30 million real estate transactions nationwide.
So why does this matter to you?
Working with a top-performing agent not only saves you hours of time, but also a significant amount of money. In short, working with the best real estate agents significantly impacts your experience in buying your first home.
How does HomeLight work?
HomeLight analyzes millions of home sales to find the best performing real estate agents in your area. Their basic process looks something like this:
1. Tell HomeLight what you’re looking for
HomeLight walks you through a basic questionnaire so you can tell them what your situation is. You’ll first start by identifying whether you’re a buyer or a seller (you can also estimate your home’s value):
You’ll start by picking the type of home you’re looking for:
You can choose from:
- Single Family.
- Mobile Home.
- Vacant Lot.
For demonstration purposes, I selected “Single Family”. The next question asks how much you’re looking to spend:
In this case, you can choose from a number of ranges, starting under $290k and going all the way up to over $1.3 million.
Because this is just a demo and I wanted to have fun, I went with $1.3 million. After that, HomeLight asks how soon you’re looking to buy:
This allows you to choose how quickly you’re looking to buy your home: from right now (ASAP) to more than a year from now (12+ months).
I chose “ASAP” because I was ready to drop a couple million on a home right then and there.
Next, HomeLight quickly asks if you’re also looking to sell your home. I selected “No”:
Next, you’ll be asked how you heard about HomeLight. I chose “Other”. Then you’ll enter your name:
Finally, before getting matches, you’ll enter your email address and phone number:
After this, HomeLight will begin to filter through over two million real estate agents to find the best fit for your specific situation.
2. HomeLight will run the numbers
The next phase takes a few seconds as HomeLight puts together data on real estate agents across the entire country. Their database has:
- Over 29 million transactions.
- Two million agents.
- Over 200,000 brokerages.
From here, HomeLight’s algorithm will find a top-performing real estate agent in your area.
3. Review your real estate agent matches
The next step is to review the agent matches that HomeLight found. They’ll give up to three agent matches. Here’s a sample of the screen that I got:
HomeLight says that their “results are 100% free, data-driven, and unbiased.” From this screen, you’ll be able to review the agent’s stats and see how they compare to other agents that may be in your area.
There’s a message box to message them directly, and you’ll see the homes they’ve closed in your area – which is nice proof.
4. Talk to an expert
At this same time, you’ll receive an email from one of HomeLight’s concierge’s who will want to set up a phone call to go over your matches and answer any questions you might have:
The purpose of this is to also help refine your search even further. Speaking with a live concierge in addition to the algorithm will end up producing your best results.
5. Meet your matches
Once you’ve determined who you’re interested in working with, HomeLight will give you the agent’s complete performance profile and help you arrange an in-person interview. This way you can make sure you’re choosing the best possible person to help you buy and/or sell your next home.
6. Decide who to work with
After you’ve done your in-person interviews, it’s time to make a decision on who to go with. Keep in mind, this is a free service so there’s no obligation to choose one of these agents if none of them are a match for you. Assuming one is, however, you can move forward and begin the process of searching for your new home or selling your existing one.
HomeLight is very confident in the agents they recommend for both buying and selling. Here’s what they say about each:
“If you’re selling your home, they typically sell faster and for more money than the average agent in their area. If you’re buying a home, they typically save their clients thousands and show them properties that better meet their needs.”
Pricing for HomeLight
HomeLight is free
HomeLight is 100% free to use and there is no obligation or commitment. So as a buyer or seller, there’s no cost to use the service (there are still estate fees as with using an agent, though).
Agents cannot pay to be a part of HomeLight
This maintains the integrity of the data, and the recommendations you receive are genuine. HomeLight says that…
“the only way agents can influence HomeLight’s rankings is to do better work for clients, handle more transactions, and improve their stats. Our recommendations are transparent, performance based, and data driven – that’s how we keep them objective.”
HomeLight does make money
You’re probably also wondering how HomeLight makes money. I mean, this isn’t a charity they’re running, right? Correct – and HomeLight does make money, but they do it in a normal way – referrals.
When you select an agent on HomeLight, they’re essentially referring that agent to you, and that agent will pay a referral fee back to HomeLight. This keeps things clean and legitimate, and HomeLight can continue to provide the service to you for no cost at all.
When HomeLight recommends agents, it’s based on their sales history. You’re matched not only with a top-performing agent, but one that does a great job selling homes similar to yours.
The data component of HomeLight is grounded in Bayesian statistical modeling and through that process determines who the best agent is for you. Without getting too nerdy, think of it as a complex math problem that uses conditional probability to determine an accurate outcome. It’s pretty cool.
Agents can’t pay to be recommended to buyers and sellers on the HomeLight platform. That means when you get a recommendation, that agent is the best of the best. HomeLight analyzes more than 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to ensure you’re paired with the best agent for you.
You won’t just get one recommendation from HomeLight. After you’ve input your street address, as many as three agents will be presented to you, and you can choose the one you prefer.
Free, no-obligation service
You don’t have to use the agents that are sent your way. Whether you do or not, you’ll pay nothing to HomeLight for the matching service. You’ll pay the usual agent commissions and closing costs, but those go to the agent and the mortgage lender, not HomeLight.
Fast and easy process
To get your match, all you need to do is input your home’s address and your contact information. It takes only a minute or two. You’ll have matches in a matter of seconds.
HomeLight allows you to get a real all-cash offer on your home in just a few minutes! All you do is answer a few questions, and HomeLight will give you an offer. If you accept, they’ll take it from there and you can sell your home as-is. There’s even no need for an open house!
HomeLight lets you interview your recommended agents to make sure it’s the right personality fit. Once you’ve decided to proceed, HomeLight will provide contact information for the agent.
HomeLight has a team of home consultants who can answer any questions sellers and buyers have. Agents can also utilize these resources. These home consultants gather information on you and pass it on to your chosen agent once you’ve decided.
If you’re a real estate agent, you don’t have to wait for HomeLight’s algorithms to find you. The site offers tools that can help you increase your visibility. You can create a profile on the platform in just minutes.
My experience researching HomeLight
In the past three years, I’ve sold two homes and bought one. I’ve had three different agents for all three transactions.
One was a family friend who didn’t want to lose the sale and gave us bad advice (he wouldn’t advocate for us until we forced his hand). Another was one who we heard was good, but he ended up being terrible and didn’t communicate with us. The last one was my friend from high school, who I rolled the dice on because I was desperate and figured I at least knew him (he actually did work out, thankfully).
My point is, finding an agent is a crapshoot sometimes, and it’s time-consuming. HomeLight makes that process much, much easier by letting you do a bunch of research and vet agents well in advance of even having your first conversation with them.
So why trust HomeLight’s recommendations?
In addition to the inputs you provide, such as your location and price point, HomeLight uses an algorithm to identify the best-suited real estate agents for you.
So what does this mean for you?
It means that you’ll end up getting real matches with real agents that can help you with your specific need. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to sift through these recommendations with a HomeLight concierge so you can make an even more informed decision.
Who is HomeLight best for?
Those who are moving to a new area
Moving to a brand-new area can be one of the most challenging things for a homebuyer. Finding a real estate agent when you aren’t even familiar with the layout of a town can seem overwhelming. HomeLight can help you locate an agent who’s familiar with the area and can match you with the perfect neighborhood.
If you need to sell soon, the right real estate agent can make all the difference. HomeLight’s matching service cuts straight to the agents who will get you top dollar for your property. Typically, you’ll find an agent who’s the best at selling in the area to boost the chances of a quick turnaround.
Real estate agents
Although it won’t guarantee you’ll get referrals, there’s nothing to lose in setting up a HomeLight profile. You can input your information in just minutes and give HomeLight more information to help with matching you to interested buyers and sellers.
Who shouldn’t use HomeLight?
Although HomeLight’s service is free, you won’t get a discount by going through them to find an agent. You’ll still owe the same commissions. HomeLight just reduces the risk that you’ll end up with an agent who won’t get you the best deal on your home purchase or sale.
Real estate agent loyalists
Maybe you have an agent you use for every sale and purchase, and you don’t want to switch. HomeLight won’t help unless you’re open to change. But HomeLight searches for agents with a track record of getting top dollar for homes like yours, so if you’re selling, it’s definitely worth considering.
Pros & Cons
- Free to use — HomeLight is completely free to use.
- Simple application — The application is easy and straightforward and takes just a few minutes.
- Unbiased recommendations — HomeLight’s agent recommendations are entirely unbiased.
- Real all-cash offers — If you opt for HomeLight’s Simple Sale feature, you can see your home quickly with no hassle. HomeLight will take care of the legwork.
- Limited recommendations — Unfortunately, you’ll only get three agent recommendations.
- Automated matching — Algorithms make the matches, not humans. This may not bother some, but others prefer more of a human touch.
HomeLight vs. their competitors
|Matching criteria||Algorithms match clients with the best agent||Agents submit competing offers||Algorithms match clients with the best agent|
|Tools for agents||Listing management, Trade-In, Cash Offer, closing services, advisor||Video greetings, dedicated advisor||Advisor assistance available|
Like HomeLight, UpNest offers agent matching services. But UpNest maintains a database of agents that meet its qualifications. When you request a match, UpNest provides the basic information to agents who cover that area. Those agents then compete for your business.
The competition feature may get you a better offer on commissions than you’d get with HomeLight. But by limiting its agents to a smaller group, you might not be getting the best professionals to cover your particular market. You could find this is a better option for buying a home rather than trying to get the best possible price on the sale of yours.
If you’re selling your home, Clever lets you sell for $3,000, or a 1% commission if your home sells for more than $350,000. Like HomeLight, Clever uses data to match you with a real estate agent, but you’ll get a quick call with a concierge to answer a few questions about what you’re looking for in an agent.
Buyers typically pay no commissions when they purchase a house. But Clever has an even better offer. If you’re in an eligible state and your home sells for more than $150,000, you’ll get 0.5% of the purchase price back after closing. Currently, 41 of 50 states are eligible for this cash back offer. Clever also sends real-time alerts about new homes on the market in your area to ensure you never miss anything.
Whether you’re a home buyer or a home seller, there’s no cost involved with using HomeLight . If you don’t like any of the agents and HomeLight ends up calling you, simply tell them you’re not interested. Certainly, if you don’t already have a great agent lined up, there’s no risk in checking them out to weigh all your options.
- So, You Want to Become a Real Estate Agent? You Must Read This First
- Lessons from a Realtor: 7 Dos and Don’ts for Buying or Selling a Home