Real estate leads can be expensive. And in this market, you may be looking to shift your lead generation strategy to account for all the folks choosing to hold off on listing their homes until interest rates cool or the market shifts. Using a company that offers pay-at-closing real estate leads is a great way to adjust and offset costs.
There are plenty of companies out there generating warm leads ready to drop in your lap that you don’t have to pay for immediately—you’ve just got to know where to look. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. Here are our top seven choices for pay-at-closing lead services.
What Are Pay-at-Closing Leads?
Also known as referral-based lead programs, services that offer pay-at-closing real estate leads connect agents with potential clients without an upfront payment. Instead, you’ll pay a referral fee to the provider once the transaction has successfully closed. These services are going to be different from referral agreements you might make with other agents.
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The leads you’ll get are usually prequalified and have expressed intent to either buy or sell. When you use these lead services, you’ll access a pool of higher quality leads and reduce your upfront investment, but that doesn’t mean it always pencils out in the end. Let’s dive in!
Comparing the Top 7 Companies
|Clever: Experienced agents seeking seller leads
|< $350k: $3k
> $350k: 1.5%
|Transparent and straightforward
|Marketing promises clients a deal on commission
|5+ years of experience, great reviews, extensive market knowledge, strong negotiating skills
|Zillow Flex: Those using Premier Agent
|15-40% of commission
|Partnership with Zillow, more than a referral lead
|Only available for Premier Agents via invitation
|HomeLight: One-stop shopping with a flat fee
|33% of commission
|Well-known platform, quality leads
|More expensive referral fee, less vetting for agents
|Agent Pronto: Flexibility
|25-35% of commission
|Easy to use, quick sign-up process
|Leads might not be as vetted, not exclusive
|Rocket Homes: Prequalified buyers with high conversion rate
|1% of estimated home value or 25%
|High-value prequalified leads, transparent dashboard
|Requires maintaining a 4.5 rating on their network
|24 months of experience, minimum 8 closed transactions in last 12 months
|UpNest: Tech-savvy agents
|30% of commission
|Huge platform, user-friendly dashboard for clients
|Requires 3 years of experience, 6 transactions in 12 months
|3 years of experience, 6 transactions in 12 months, tech-savviness
|ReferralExchange: Networking & referrals
|35% of commission
|Connects more than 500,000 leads, vetted and valuable leads
|Only available for top agents, highest fees on the list
|3 years of experience, at least 20 transactions or comparable sales volume within last 12 months
Keep in mind that with these leads, the cardinal rule of real estate still applies: follow up. That’s going to be more important than leads you’ll generate yourself, because these companies often assign you an adviser to ensure you’re working the leads they give you.
These leads also tend to be expensive when looking at your commission check—25% before your broker split is steep! But you can’t beat a free-for-now lead.
How Did We Choose These Providers?
We selected these providers based on market share as well as a few other factors. I’m sure you’ve heard of a few on the list. They are not paid advertisers, and we chose these based on you—our readers. We are independent and have selected these providers based on price, referral fee, and most importantly, lead quality. These providers do their work to ensure these leads close.
Visit our methodology page for our full breakdown. Or keep reading to learn more about our picks for the top choices on real estate pay-at-closing leads.
Best Seller Leads for Experienced Agents
- Best for: Experienced agents seeking seller leads
- Cost: Based on home price, < $350k = $3k > $350k = 1.5%
- Agent skill level: At least five years of experience, great reviews and extensive market knowledge.
Clever markets itself to buyers and sellers as a service that will match them with an agent that fits their needs. It’s free for consumers and transparent in terms of what it provides. Leads tend to lean towards listings, with Clever sending only one matched agent to these leads, so they are exclusive.
One of their requirements is that all agents on the platform have at least five years of experience in real estate. Their focus is on converting these leads, so they do ask agents directly if they have strong negotiating skills.
The platform hosts more than 7,000 agents nationwide, and charges a flat fee at closing based on home price at time of closing. If the home goes for less than $350,000, Clever charges $3,000. If the home sales value is more than $350,000, the agent will pay 1.5% of the home’s value to Clever at closing.
This is important because Clever positions itself as a discount listing service that connects leads with agents. However, the marketing is based around clients getting a deal on their commission. So keep in mind that these leads may be expecting a reduced commission on your part (on top of the hefty referral fee you have to pay to Clever).
While Clever is one of the more expensive programs on our list, this is a credible, nationwide referral network for experienced agents looking for listing leads. I’d suggest giving Clever a try if you meet their criteria.
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Best for Agents Using Zillow Premier Agent
- Best for: Agents already using Zillow Premier Agent
- Cost: 20-35% of commission
- Agent skill level: Invite-only, you must already be part of their Premier Agent program if offered in your area
Not much more can be said about Zillow Flex than what we’ve already said. This is going to be much more of a partnership model. You work with a Zillow Flex adviser on converting your leads to ensure they are being worked appropriately. Keep in mind that these leads are going to be expensive, and as we’ve previously mentioned, using Zillow Flex could lead to Zillow having even more power in the industry.
This program is invite-only. According to Zillow, Flex agents are “high-performing partners who provide exceptional customer service and are willing to partner closely with us with a shared objective.” The cost for their program varies depending on the market, ranging from 20% to 35% of your commission side. However, keep in mind that you must also already be a Premier Agent subscriber—a cost that ranges from $300 to more than $1,000 per month.
If you’re already using Premier Agent, Zillow Flex might be a way to supplement your lead stream with a pay-at-closing option. However, I can’t recommend signing up for Premier Agent just to get access to the Flex program, so if Zillow is not already in your business model, this might be one to skip.
Is Zillow Flex Worth the 35% Referral Fee?
Best for Flat-fee Referral Model
- Best for: Agents looking for a one-stop shop
- Cost: 33% of referral commission
- Agent skill level: Undisclosed, but there are qualifications
HomeLight states they provide real estate leads to agents based on several factors, including transaction volume, average number of days on the market for listings, historical sales, and past referrals. However, how their process matches clients to agents is less than clear.
HomeLight values itself as a one-stop shop for agents and leads. As a full-service model offering transaction management, closing services, and cash offers for sellers, HomeLight touts itself as more of a partnership with agents.
HomeLight does some vetting of their leads upfront, asking seller leads questions such as, “Does your home need work?” and “What do you estimate your home is worth?” HomeLight also puts a lot of money into their digital marketing for potential clients.
HomeLight also includes an agent resource center to help nurture your leads. Their flat-fee model is one of the more expensive on this list, at 33%. The two-year stipulation in the agent agreement is also due consideration, because if your referral closes at any time in the next two years, you’ll still owe 25% of your commission to HomeLight. So if you help a referral sell a home and then buy another within the next two years, you owe the referral fee on both sales.
Considering the value of vetted leads, their extensive testimonials, and professional online presence, I feel confident in recommending HomeLight. Other agents have had good experiences, and besides the high referral fee, they are one of the best companies on this list.
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Best for Flexibility
- Best for: Agents looking for flexibility in referral leads
- Cost: 25-35% of commission depending on your market
- Agent skill level: Undisclosed; the sign up process is quick but vetting depends on how many agents are already in your area
Agent Pronto’s program is like many others on this list. It’s very easy to sign up for this referral source. I was able to fly through the signup process in two minutes online. However, while its website notes that the company uses criteria to determine how to match potential clients with your information, that criteria isn’t disclosed. Your information is sent to clients along with other agents in the area.
I believe Agent Pronto does further vetting with its agents to match up potential leads once you’ve submitted your application, but I’m not sure what that looks like. It seems based on market area and the number of agents they already have in that area. The referral fee is variable, anywhere from 25% to 35%. Potential leads go through a very quick process and your information is passed onto the client, as well as two to three agents in the area.
To be honest, Agent Pronto is a service that you can sign up for easily, but I wouldn’t expect much in terms of leads. Leads do get a few agents to choose from, so your referral isn’t exclusive. The leads aren’t extremely well vetted and seem more about quantity rather than quality.
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Best for Prequalified Buyer Leads
- Best for: Agents seeking pre-qualified buyer leads
- Cost: 1% of estimated listing price or 25%
- Agent skill level: 24 months of experience & a minimum of eight closed transactions in last 12 months. You must also maintain a high rating on their network.
A sister company of Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Homes made this list because it’s a reputable source that offers high quality leads from pre-qualified buyers. Due to this fact, these are going to be more valuable leads than perhaps others on this list.
Once a buyer expresses interest in a home loan from Rocket Mortgage, they are also offered to connect with a Rocket Homes agent. These are engaged, interested house hunters who also tend to already be prequalified for a mortgage. Their fees are on the higher end, at either 1% of the home price at closing or 25% of your commission, whichever is higher.
To become a Rocket Homes agent, you must adhere to the company’s standards, which can be strict. They ask for 24 months of experience and a minimum of eight closed transactions in the last 12 months. To stay on their network, you have to keep your rating at 4.5 stars or higher. Something to keep in mind about Rocket Homes as well is that many customers noted in their reviews that, while they enjoyed the service and their agent, Rocket Mortgage called them over and over about obtaining a mortgage through them. These are high-quality leads, but you’re going to have to adhere to Rocket Home’s rules, including keeping your reviews top-notch.
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Best for Experienced, Tech-savvy Agents
- Best for: Tech-savvy agents with experience
- Cost: 30% of your commission
- Agent skill level: Three years of experience, six transactions in 12 months and a level of tech-savviness
UpNest puts a lot of effort into consumer marketing—after all, they are owned by realtor.com. A unique point of UpNest is that they offer an “agent commission refund” to potential leads when they use an UpNest Agent. This is funded through one of the more expensive referral models on this list.
Your fee for these leads is based on the home sale price: If it’s less than $350,000, there’s a $3,000 fee; if it’s more than $350,000, the fee is equal to 1.5% of the sales price. UpNest, while expensive, tends to have higher quality leads. They ask their leads to set up their portal and go through a small assessment to gauge intent. Agents and leads then use their portal to connect. A lead will enter their address and UpNest sends them three to five commission quotes from agents. So you are competing on commission rate, services and agent reviews all within their platform.
UpNest requires agents to have at least three years of experience and a minimum of six transactions in the last 12 months (although they note that these requirements may be more depending upon geographic area). They also note that their agents need a “level of tech-savviness,” as their portal is a mobile app. The portal is very transparent for clients and agents alike, and the design of their tools are user friendly.
UpNest invests in you and your transactions—they have various tools and resources for you in their huge platform. Their app tracks all of your activity including call time, lead response time and update rate — you’ll need to keep them updated even if nothing is happening in the transaction to stay in good standing on their platform. I also really appreciate the transparency of their help center. If you’re looking for a true partnership in a referral source, UpNest is your answer.
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Best for Referrals & Networking
- Best for: Agents looking for a nationwide networking and referral program
- Cost: 35% of commission
- Agent skill level: Three years of experience and at least 20 transactions (or comparable sales volume) within the last 12 months
Referral Exchange touts itself as providing only the best real estate professionals. Its network has thousands of agents nationwide, but works a bit differently than the others on this list. ReferralExchange qualifies and nurtures your leads, then gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact. You upload your leads and referrals and their team will scrub them for you to ensure the info is correct. Once the leads are ready to transact, Referral Exchange connects leads with agents in their network. These leads are from agents or submitted by the leads themselves through Referral Exchange’s partner website, topagentsranked.com.
This service provides a solution for agents who might be transitioning out of real estate, going part time, or have clients that may be moving across state lines. It’s an easy way to pass on clients you might otherwise not be able to work.
To sign up, they do require three years of experience and at least 20 transactions or comparable sales volume within the last 12 months. Their referral fee is one of the highest on this list, at 35%. Potential clients are provided a list of agents, so your lead is not exclusive. Keep in mind that there is a setup fee for this service and a referral fee for the lead exchange. The startup fee is not disclosed, and the service costs $95 a month to maintain your contacts. There is a $3 charge per lead as well. Their FAQ page is very helpful in figuring out if this service could be right for you.
Something to note is that in my research, there were several complaints that leads were not provided to agents. Referral Exchange notes that in order to receive leads from Referral Exchange, you must provide them with leads as well. This is an important caveat—but one that keeps the exchange pipeline full of leads for all.
While ReferralExchange is an unconventional pay-at-closing lead service, they are filling a niche in the space for agents who may otherwise not be able to work the leads they are getting (for example, if you’re a part-time agent or someone who is semi-retired but wants to keep their sphere engaged and receive a cut of the commissions once another agent closes the deal). This could also be a great service for smaller, independent brokerages that might not have access to a nationwide referral network.
Looking for another way to generate referrals? NuOp is a referral network where agents can exchange referrals with other agents.Visit NuOp
Are Pay-at-Closing Leads Worth It?
Let’s be honest—as an agent, you should pursue every opportunity to bring in leads where it makes sense for your business and the clients you’re looking to serve. I highly recommend diversifying your lead generation strategies to ensure a full funnel and a steady stream of opportunities. With pay-at-closing leads, you’ll retain the flexibility to decide whether you want to serve the leads you get. However, these companies get paid when you close, so it’s in their best interest to make the relationship work.
The truth is, while the commission may be lower on these leads, you spend very little time or money acquiring them. However, the work required to close is going to be just like any other client—if not more, as you often have to update the referral source’s third-party system and keep them in the loop on the transaction.
Pros of Pay-at-Closing Leads
These leads can be easier to convert as they’ve already expressed intent to buy or sell. The companies on this list make money off of the referral fee, so they have a vested interest in your success. This is why most services seek experienced real estate agents—they need to see that you can close a transaction successfully. They make money when these leads close, so they need these leads to close through their referral agents.
Of course, the reduced upfront cost makes pay-at-closing real estate leads a budget-friendly, low-risk option for agents. If you’re considering adding one of these services to your business strategy, it’s an easy way to diversify your lead generation—you’re going to have more opportunities to make those commissions!
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Cons of Pay-at-Closing Leads
When you sign up for these pay-at-closing real estate lead sources, the devil is in the details. They’ve been handed directly to you from a professional source, so you not only need to showcase your knowledge and present yourself with authority, but staying organized and following up with these leads is crucial. The commission from these leads will also be less with how much you’re paying in referral feels—a strong tidbit to keep in mind.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you sign up for every service on this list. They require some setup and administrative tasks that take you away from generating business and working transactions. However, I would pick one or two off this list and start the process. They’re no-strings-attached, and you could see a sale from it this year.
However, I wouldn’t count on this as a firm leg of any agent’s lead generation strategy—just a nice accessory to have. If you haven’t yet met the requirements for these companies (often years of experience, number of transactions, and online reviews), then that gives you a solid goal to work toward in order to keep expanding your business. After all, never forget the law of inertia: an object in motion stays in motion. The more opportunities you create in your business, the more success you’ll see!