UpNest review: What it is and how it works
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UpNest is an online platform that helps people find a real estate agent in their area. The service is free for both buyers and sellers. After entering some details about your needs, you will receive proposals from members of UpNest’s network of agents in your city.
Because UpNest asks multiple agents to bid for your business, agents are in competition to work with you. In theory, this should deliver savings— though that may not always be the case. Here’s a closer look at how it works.
What is UpNest?
UpNest is a free online marketplace that matches potential homebuyers and sellers with a real estate agent in their area. The company puts local agents in touch with buyers and sellers, competing for their business with proposals and commission rates that the client can choose from.
In order to work with the company, agents must meet certain criteria. These include: a current real estate license in good standing, at least three years of experience, a minimum of six transactions over the last 12 months and positive online reviews. The company says it partners only with agents who perform in the top 5 percent of their local markets.
Since June 2022, UpNest has been owned by Move, Inc., the same company that operates Realtor.com. It is now branded as “UpNest by Realtor.com.”
How does UpNest work?
UpNest has a network of real estate agents spanning all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Here’s a breakdown of how the process works:
- First, you submit a request online.
- You’ll then get a phone call from a representative of the company to discuss the details of what you need.
- Within 24 hours, you will receive bid proposals from three to five local agents who want to work with you. Proposals are different for sellers and buyers and will include things like experience, services offered, commission rates and more. They typically include a video greeting from the agent as well.
- You compare the proposals, interview the agents you’re interested in and choose one to work with.
- The service is free, and users are not obligated to accept any of the proposals they receive.
Selling your home with UpNest
Home sellers are matched with listing agents who have a successful sales record in their area. You can review an agent’s years of experience and track record as a part of their proposal. Common services offered by UpNest selling agents include open houses, home staging, listing websites, virtual tours and comparative market analyses.
Proposals will also include commission rates — crucial, because in a real estate transaction, it’s the seller who pays Realtor commission fees. Your potential savings on listing fees varies depending on the agent you choose and the market in your area. UpNest does not negotiate any guaranteed savings on your behalf.
Buying a home with UpNest
Finding a buyer’s agent on UpNest is similar to the process used for finding a selling agent. One big difference, though, is that many buyer’s agents on UpNest will offer what the site calls a “commission refund” or “buyer rebate.”
The term is a bit of a misnomer, because sellers pay real estate commissions, not buyers. But it is a discount: The buyer’s agent is agreeing to give the homebuyer a percentage of the commission they earn on the transaction, which is typically 3 percent of the home’s purchase price. For example, let’s say the agent offers a 0.5 percent rebate. That means the agent will earn 2.5 percent, not the full 3, and the remaining 0.5 percent will go to the buyer. For a $400,000 house, that comes to $2,000 in savings for the buyer. Per UpNest’s website, “The refund (or rebate) is typically paid through escrow and is generally credited towards closing costs.”
Not all UpNest agents offer buyer rebates, and they are not available in all markets. In fact, real estate rebates for buyers are illegal in many states. The practice is prohibited by law in Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon and Tennessee.
Is UpNest legitimate?
Yes, UpNest is a legitimate business owned by Move, Inc., which also owns several other real estate–related websites including Realtor.com, Moving.com and Doorsteps. The company was founded in 2013 by Simon Ru, who formerly worked at tech companies such as eBay and PayPal, and has its offices in San Mateo, California. It was acquired by Move, Inc. in June of 2022.
How does it make money?
UpNest earns a referral fee for successful transactions. This fee is deducted from agent commissions, not paid for by the buyer or seller. UpNest charges agents a 30 percent referral fee, calculated by evaluating the commission before the broker split.
UpNest pros and cons
- Easy and fast way to find top agents in your area
- Provides detailed agent proposals that allow you to comparison shop for maximum savings
- No obligation to accept any agent’s proposal
- Savings are not pre-negotiated or guaranteed by the company
- Buyer rebates are not legal in all states
- Transactions won’t be as fast as using an iBuyer
Here are a few other options that offer similar services to UpNest, along with some key differences.
- Clever: This site also connects users with agents in their area. It offers a pre-negotiated commission rate of just 1.5 percent when you sell with one of its agents.
- Redfin: Redfin employs its own agents and offers a 1 percent seller’s commission fee if you both buy and sell with their agents (the other buyer’s fee is not included).
- Opendoor: You can list your home with Opendoor or sell it directly to them for cash. The company charges a 5 percent service fee, which is about equal to the 5 to 6 percent commission that agents would earn.
- Traditional real estate agent: Of course, you can always skip websites and find a local agent on your own through a referral, a local ad or even a for sale sign in your neighborhood.
UpNest is a useful tool for people who are struggling to find a great real estate agent or who just want to expedite the search. It may help you save money too, although discounts and special commission rates are not guaranteed. If you need to close very quickly, or need a cash offer, an iBuyer may be a better option.
UpNest is a good option for sellers who want to be connected with top real estate agents in their market fast, without having to do much research to find them. It’s also good for those who want to comparison shop, as multiple agents will compete for your listing. You may be able to leverage that competition to secure a lower commission fee.
Yes. The company was founded in 2013 and was acquired by Move, Inc., which owns several other real estate websites as well, in 2022. It is based in California.
Maybe. UpNest does not promise a higher selling price for your home, but it does connect you with top-performing agents in your area, who may be better able to secure a good price than a less skilled agent.
Many buyer’s agents who work with UpNest offer buyer rebates that can save you money. However, this type of negotiation is not guaranteed, and is in fact not legally permitted in some states.