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You want to sell your home but aren’t thrilled about shelling out a big percentage of the sale price for real estate agent commissions. But skipping out on professional help doesn’t seem like a sound idea, either, especially if you’re hoping for the highest price possible. In fact, 2023 statistics from the National Association of Realtors showed that homes sold by their owners brought in nearly $100,000 less than homes sold by professional agents.
If you want an agent but are worried about costs, Ideal Agent may be a good solution to help maximize your profits. The site pairs home sellers with local real estate agents who provide their services for a pre-negotiated discounted price, rather than a percentage of the home’s sale price. Here’s more about the company, and how it works.
What is Ideal Agent?
Ideal Agent was founded by Steve Johnston in 2016 and is based in Tampa, Florida. It’s an online platform that connects sellers nationwide with real estate agents in their area who have agreed in advance to a discounted commission rate. It works with agents from many large brokerages, including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, Compass and more. The company’s primary claim is maximizing savings for home sellers while still providing excellent service.
The typical real estate commission fee runs between 2.5 and 3 percent of a home’s final sale price for each agent involved in the deal (the buyer’s agent and the listing agent). With Ideal, though, you can list your home and pay a predetermined 2 percent commission to the company’s listing agent when it sells. This saves having to negotiate a rate, and also saves up to 1 percent on commission fees. This can be significant for those looking to cut costs: For example, if you sell your home for $400,000, 1 percent is $4,000. Home sellers can also use Ideal to request cash offers offers on their home, then choose the best one, rather than selling the more traditional way.
How does Ideal Agent work?
If you choose to sell through the Ideal Agent, the first step is to get matched up with an agent in your area. This is done online: You input the address of the property you’d like to sell and provide some contact information and details about your situation. Part of the online form you fill out to get started asks whether you’d like to purchase a home after you sell your current one, so presumably the agent you’re matched with can help with that as well.
There’s no obligation, and the company does not charge a fee for the matching service. Once you list your home with that agent, the rest of the sale proceeds as any other would.
The website advertises “Sell your home for as low as a 2% commission,” which sounds like a significant discount if you’re thinking of the total commission on a traditional sale being 5 to 6 percent. But keep in mind that it’s referring to 2 percent for the listing agent, who you as the seller hire via Ideal Agent. You may choose to pay whatever percentage you want to the buyer’s agent, but expecting a buyer’s agent to accept the same discount, or less, may limit the pool of buyers available to you.
A few things to consider: It’s unclear from the company’s website whether you are allowed to choose among a few matches or are given just one option. It’s also unclear whether you have any recourse if you don’t love the agent you’re matched with and would like to switch to someone else.
Is Ideal Agent worth it?
That depends on your unique situation. Weigh the potential savings and other benefits against the drawbacks:
- Save money: The typical listing agent commission runs between 2.5 and 3 percent of the home’s sale price. When you sell with Ideal Agent you pay 2 percent, which can save you up to 1 percent. This can represent thousands of dollars, especially on higher-priced homes.
- No negotiating: If you sell with Ideal your listing agent’s commission rate is preset, so there’s no need to haggle.
- Local agents: You’ll be matched with an agent from a well-known brokerage who operates in your area. So even though the match takes place online, it’s not a faceless online-only transaction with someone far away.
- Not a lot of savings: Even though 2 percent is less than a typical listing agent commission, it’s only between 0.5 and 1 percent less — not exactly a deep discount, especially on lower-priced homes.
- You don’t choose your own agent: Ideal will match you with someone they think is compatible with your needs, but there’s no guarantee that you will really click or work well together.
- You’ll be marketed to: You cannot submit your information to Ideal Agent without also agreeing to receive marketing calls and texts, even if you are on a “do not call” list. The marketing may come from Ideal itself, one of its Realtor partners, or its “moving concierge partner.”
Ideal Agent alternatives
Ideal Agent is not the only online home seller or discount brokerage out there. If you’d like to explore your options, here are some alternatives to consider:
- Cash-homebuying companies: Companies that advertise “we buy houses” typically make cash offers and close much faster than a traditional sale can, because there are no lenders involved. They often specialize in homes that need extensive repairs and buy in as-is condition.
- iBuyers: Cash homebuyers and iBuyers are similar — both pay in cash and move with amazing speed, typically closing the entire deal in just a few weeks. There are no Realtors involved in the process, so no commission fees, but you are not likely to get a top-dollar offer from either type of company.
- Clever Real Estate: Like Ideal Agent, Clever is an online platform that matches you with an agent and lets you sell your home for less. Its “listing fee” is 1.5 percent of the home’s price.
- UpNest: The UpNest model is similar, but instead of being matched with one agent, this platform allows multiple agents to compete for your listing.
If you’re ready to sell your home, consider what type of sale works best for your needs. Ideal Agent might be a good choice if you’re hoping to save on commission fees, but you might not save as much as you’d like. If you’d like to go with a traditional sale, with an agent of your own choosing, look for a local Realtor who knows your specific area very well and has a proven track record of closing sales on homes similar to yours.
Yes, Ideal Agent is a discount brokerage that connects you with real estate agents in your area who have agreed ahead of time to list your home for a 2 percent commission rate, rather than the typical 2.5 to 3 percent a listing agent would normally earn.
UpNest is also an online home-selling platform. But it differs from Ideal Agent, which matches you with a single agent to work with, by creating a competitive environment in which multiple agents bid for your business. WIth Ideal, your agent’s commission is preset at 2 percent, whereas with UpNest the different agents who bid may all charge different rates, and you choose the one that fits your needs best.
Clever Real Estate offers a lower fee than Ideal Agent, charging sellers a 1.5 percent “listing fee” rather than Ideal’s 2 percent commission. However, there’s a minimum listing fee of $3,000, making it potentially not a great choice for lower-priced homes.