Clever Real Estate is a middleman between you and the agent. For this, Clever charges 30% commission as referral fees.
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- Clever is available nationwide
- NOT Free. Charges approx 0.5% commission
- Brokers complain of consumer privacy violations
- Connects sellers with discount brokers
- Directs consumers to poor options to collect fees
Clever Real Estate is a brokerage licensed in Missouri. However, Clever does not provide any services that a brokerage typically provides. Instead, Clever advertises itself as a “free” service to home sellers and home buyers. Once these sellers and buyers signup, Clever sells their info to agents in return for a 25% to 40% “Service Fee.”
Our team of expert real estate researchers have spent hundreds of hours researching Clever Real Estate and its practices. In writing this opinion piece below, we have also consulted with real estate attorneys, title and escrow agents, and Clever affiliate agents. We also spoke to consumers who sold their homes through Clever or considered Clever.
Today, we will look at Clever Real Estate Reviews and whether listing your house with Clever is a good idea in 2023.
What is Clever Real Estate?
Listwithclever.com uses marketing to get home sellers and buyers to submit their contact information. Clever then stores consumer information as leads in its database. Clever real estate does not service the leads themselves.
Instead, Clever sells those leads to affiliated agents for a “Service Fee”. This Service Fee typically ranges between 25% to 40% of the total commission the seller pays at the time of closing.
Clever does not disclose this service fee either upfront or in the Settlement Statement when the property is sold. They allow you to believe that the service is free, even though you’ve paid thousands of dollars to use Clever.
- 🚩 BEWARE: Although Clever is a licensed brokerage, it does not offer any services a traditional brokerage provides. Instead, Clever presents itself as a “100% free” service, collects your information, and sends it to agents within its network. Clever then charges these agents a “Service Fee” if you buy or sell with them. This fee can be thousands of dollars.
Is Clever Real Estate Legit?
Yes, Clever Real Estate (Clever) is a licensed (License # 2017042277) Missouri real estate brokerage. It was founded by Benjamin Lee Mizes, Jake Cardenas, Jeremy Decker, and Luke Babich in 2017.
How Does Clever Real Estate Work?
For any real estate transaction, you need a willing seller and a willing buyer. A real estate agent acts as a middleman to facilitate the transaction. A typical U.S. real estate transaction, in fact, involves two real estate agents.
Through shrewd marketing, Clever inserts itself as the middleman of middlemen. Clever connects consumers with agents, and for that, charges 25% to 40% of the commission as the Service Fee.
Clever also offers a rebate if a customer sells as well as purchases property using their services. But this comes with a catch. You are eligible for this rebate only if the purchase value of the house is more than $150,000. And Clever will collect 40% of the commission as a “Service Fee.”
How Does Clever Make Money?
Clever Real Estate claims Clever is “100% free”. This is not true.
Clever Real Estate attracts home buyers and sellers to its website using Content Marketing, SEO, and PPC campaigns. Then it collects the property and contact details of those buyers and sellers in its database via an online form and converts them into leads.
Clever forwards those leads to its affiliated pay-to-play real estate agents. The pay-to-play agents convert the lead into their “Clients”. Once the transaction closes, the pay-to-play agents pay Clever a “Service Fee” within 10 days of the closing date.
Clever’s Service Fee Paid from Commission Home Sellers Pay:
|If the home is sold for less than $125,00
|25% of the gross broker commission
|If the home is sold for more than $125,000
|Greater of $1,000 or 25% of the gross broker commission
|If the broker represents the buying side
|Up to 40% of the broker commission
Selling/Buying With Clever Real Estate
To sell or buy a house with Clever, you must first provide your personal information, and the details of the property you are looking to sell or buy.
Clever saves your information as a lead. The leads are then forwarded to Clever’s pay-to-play agents. Agents will call you to schedule a time for an in-person interview.
Once you select a Clever pay-to-play agent, you work directly with that agent. Clever, from that point on, doesn’t engage much with its leads. Customer testimonials confirm that once you finalize the real estate agent, Clever does not interfere much in the process.
This can be a risky prospect for Clever sellers as well as buyers. There is no guarantee that the agent assigned to you is high-quality and will deliver up to your expectations. And since Clever doesn’t interfere much, customers are left to deal with such agents on their own.
Clever also claims that its agents are not discount agents. We found this to be false – several agents we spoke to offered discounts and cheaper services.
✅ Why You Should Choose Clever
If you care about protecting your personal confidential information, you should not.
It is true, that Clever’s rates are comparatively cheaper than other companies that operate on a similar model. We believe this is the only positive aspect of selling your house with Clever.
The downsides are very significant, as we’ll discuss below.
🚩 Why You Should Not Choose Clever
Clever’s 1.5% commission for home sellers is too high. It’s 2023, and with technology, home sellers can list and sell their homes for a mere few hundred dollars.
For home buyers, Clever’s 0.5% rebate is minuscule. Houzeo and Redfin can get you significantly more buyer rebates.
👉 Houzeo Reviews: All You Need to Know About Houzeo.
🚫 Clever Real Estate Misrepresents its Service as “Free”
U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s enforcement of state and federal Truth-in-Advertising laws requires companies to be:
- cautious when using the term “free” or “sale.”
- upfront and truthful about their pricing
Clever advertises its services as “100% Free”. That is untrue. Clever collects a substantial 25% to 40% of the gross commission of the agent as a “Service Fee”.
🚫 Clever Poses a Risk of Privacy Violations
Clever-affiliated pay-to-play agents you work with are party to the transaction. As such, they are privy to your transaction documents, including the ALTA statement.
Clever is not a party to the transaction, so it is not entitled to consumers’ private transaction information, including the ALTA statement.
Per Clever Real Estate’s Service Agreement For Brokers, Clever requires its affiliated pay-to-play agents to share the ALTA statement. This undermines the privacy protections consumers are entitled to under various state laws. This includes California’s CCPA and laws of at least 11 other states.
The excerpt below is directly from the “CLEVER SERVICE AGREEMENT FOR BROKERS”, signed by a Designated Broker, associated with Clever Real Estate, Inc.
🚫 Clever’s Price-Fixing of Commissions at 1.5% Potentially Violate Federal Antitrust Laws
Clever fixes the commissions with home buyers and sellers. This is then honored by more than 12,000 agents working with them. Many of these same agents offer their services for much cheaper than Clever’s fixed 1.5% commission. This fixed 1.5% commission potentially violates Federal Antitrust Laws.
Also, the National Association of Realtors states that the agent and the home buyer or seller can negotiate commissions at any time during the transaction. Clever Real Estate is not a party to the transaction, but it fixes the commission upfront. In addition, it requires its pay-to-play agents to honor that commitment.
What Do Customers Have to Say About Clever?
Clever Real Estate has stellar reviews on Trustpilot, which is a paid review site. On free sites like Trustpilot, Clever Real Estate has a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.
⛔ What Bothered Customers About Clever ⛔
Below are a few problematic aspects of Clever Real Estate that pose some major red flags for customers.
🤫 Clever Does NOT DISCLOSE All the Costs 🤫
As per customer testimonials, Clever Real Estate kept a seller in the dark about the additional closing costs. It was not until the seller asked the real estate agent did they come to know about the additional costs that are to be incurred by them.
Throughout the process, they were told that all they need to pay is $3,000 and 2.5-3% buyer agent’s commission.
⚠️ Clever’s Agents are Not up to the Mark ⚠️
We came across various List with Clever customer reviews that suggest that its agents were not at all efficient. Sometimes, agents tried to get the lowest possible price for the sellers and withheld offers.
This is expected. Clever claims it does not connect consumers with discount agents. We found that to be not true. Multiple Clever-affiliated pay-to-play agents we spoke to offered discount services. Some primarily got their listings through discounted services – and that’s the definition of a discount broker.
🔍 Clever Does Not Monitor the Overall Process 🔎
Once the agent is assigned to the consumer, not much is handled by Clever. In the words of a customer, “Clever didn’t put many guardrails around agent” and the seller had to guide the process themself.
This is also expected. A traditional brokerage would monitor their agents. Clever is not a traditional brokerage. It is a referral company and, as such, is not a party to the transaction.
It would be rather difficult for Clever to demand high-quality services from its affiliated pay-to-play agents because they don’t hang their licenses in Clever’s offices.
Pros and Cons of Using Clever Real Estate
Using Clever’s services comes with its advantages and some serious disadvantages. Below is a table to summarise all of these.
|Reasons To Choose Clever
|Reasons Not To Choose Clever
|✅ Clever offers its services for a 1.5% commission. Cheaper than other agent referral companies
|❌ Clever does not disclose all costs upfront
|✅ Good customer rating of 5 stars on Trustpilot
|❌ Clever fixes commission with sellers/buyers upfront, leaving little room for them to negotiate
|✅ More than 12,000 affiliated agents. Can help you find an agent nearby
|❌ Customer testimonials suggest their agents are not up to the mark
|❌ Clever does not value consumer privacy
|❌ You will waste a lot of time interviewing agents
Alternatives to Clever Real Estate
Clever vs. Houzeo
Houzeo is ranked #1 amongst America’s best FSBO sites. The process of listing your home with Houzeo is seamless with all the necessary paperwork and documents handled online. Additionally, there are no hidden costs or listing agent commissions when closing the deal.
Tailored packages meet your needs, and your property is listed on major platforms like Realtor.com. Houzeo’s pricing starts at $329, making it more appealing than Clever’s 1.5% listing fee.
Clever vs. UpNest
UpNest is an agent matching service that charges 2% to 2.5% instead of the traditional 3% Realtor commission. Clever, on the other hand, charges only 1.5% commission.
However, both services are robbing you blind. They claim to offer free services. No matter you are a buyer or seller, you pay about 30% referral fee to UpNest or Clever
Clever vs. Redfin
Redfin is a discount real estate broker that offers to sell your home for a listing commission of 1.5% of the sale price. Unlike Clever agents who are incentivized, Redfin agents get a fixed salary. This may demotivate them from offering you additional services.
Redfin has an average customer rating of 3.3 out of 5 stars on sites like Consumer Affairs. On the other hand, Clever has a solid customer rating of 5 stars on Trustpilot.
Should You List With Clever Real Estate?
Clever misrepresents its service to be “100% free”. It is not.
Clever’s advertised 1.5% listing commission is also a lot more expensive than other services like Houzeo. Clever’s technology is also lacking.
For most home sellers, we do not recommend Clever. Instead, check out Houzeo. You’ll save thousands in commissions and your privacy will be safeguarded.
Frequently Asked Questions about Listwithclever.com
1. Is Clever Real Estate free?
Clever promotes itself as a free service, but in reality, they charge a service fee of 25% to 40% on Clever Real Estate partner agents for each transaction they finalize. This fee is subtracted from the commission you pay to the agent you are matched with.
2. Can you trust Clever?
No, you cannot trust Clever due to the potential risks of privacy violations, commission fixing, and limited room for negotiation. It is advisable to refrain from listing with Clever.
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