HomeLight Review: A Data-Driven Real Estate Agent Search Engine


First let me say this – your real estate agent matters, a lot. They aren’t all the same and performance will vary widely. Do you want your property to fester on the market or sell quickly for a high price?

Obviously the latter, so your search for a real estate agent should be taken very, very seriously. After all, your money is at stake here. And potentially lots of it.

How Do You Choose a Real Estate Agent?

The problem is how do you know who to go with? Do you call the real estate agent offering a reduced commission to save some bucks?

Or a real estate agent who sends you a flyer in the mail? What about the door knocking real estate agent who gives you a Frisbee with their grinning face on it or a company like REXchange?

I suppose it doesn’t really matter the medium as long as you wind up with a competent agent who can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

But as with everything else, a disruptor is attempting to shake up the real estate agent discovery process to help home buyers and sellers connect based on actual performance, not just clever advertising.

HomeLight Uses Data to Pick Your Real Estate Agent

A new company called “HomeLight” is relying on big data (or maybe small data if you think about it) to find you a real estate agent based on your actual wants and needs.

And they believe this will result in a faster sale for more money, something everyone can agree is a good thing.

Simply put, they know what is good for you, even if you don’t, though they do need some input from you as well to figure that piece out.

First, you tell them if you’re buying or selling and choose your property’s location. From there you’ll see a big list of real estate agents that dwindles as you fine-tune your real estate agent search.

I inputted Santa Monica, CA and selling (as opposed to buying) and saw 2,248 agent results with so-called “Top Matches” already displaying the five best fits based on the very limited criteria I entered.

Then you choose a home value, beginning at $910k and under and going all the way up to $5 million plus. I assume this price range varies based on the property’s location. I verified this using Salt Lake City, UT and this is indeed the case.

For SLC, the prices started at $100k or less and went up to $1.5 million or more.

Anyway, once you choose a value range, you select property type, such as condo, townhouse, or single-family home. And from there you’re asked what’s most important to you.

– Has lots of experience
– Gets me the best price
– Spends lots of time with me
– Can sell quickly

If you’re buying, the “can sell quickly” option is removed and you just get the three remaining options above.

Once you get to that point, HomeLight will ask for your contact information in order to give you a list of agents. It’d be nice if you could just see the agents, but nothing is ever that simple, is it?

Once you relinquish your precious details, including name, address, e-mail, and phone number, HomeLight will send over your “personalized agent matches” along with the latest top agent matches as time goes on.

I suppose the list is always in flux because it relies on ever-changing data to rank the real estate agents. If one agent has a particularly good month, it could rise in the rankings. The opposite could also be true.

Once you get their matches, you can view their background, including geographic expertise, recent listings, education, customer reviews, transaction volume, and more.

Additionally, you can see how they rank across a variety of variables to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

It’s probably recommended that you vet each match in person to ensure they’re actually the right fit for you, instead of taking data’s word for it.

HomeLight Data Platform

HomeLight claims its agents sell an average of 23 days faster, and if you’re buying a property, save you an average of $23,000 per home purchase.

How do they do that, you ask? Well, they rely on a lot of publicly available data and some really smart people from schools you may have heard of like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford.

At last glance, they’re analyzing objective data from over 18 million transactions and two million real estate agents.

Then they use “Bayesian statistical models” to determine which real estate agent will get you the best results.

Without getting overly wonky, the Bayesian technique relies on prior probability that is updated using new evidence (data) to come with a hypothesis, which would explain those questions it asks.

The takeaway here is that the final output is an objective list of agent results, as opposed to a list that is sponsored or paid for. Of course, agents do have to pay to play, though they can’t rank higher than others by paying more.

There is no way to “boost” your HomeLight ranking, thankfully. Well, there is, but only through your own genuine efforts as a real estate agent I suppose. There are no tricks or schemes to manipulate the rankings.

The typical real estate finder model relies on who pays the most to get in front of your eyeballs, usually by spending lots of marketing dollars.

The HomeLight model gives you an agent based on pure numbers and performance, which could work out better for both the home seller and buyer. I suppose time will tell if it shakes up the current model.

By the way, if you’re an agent, the cost of HomeLight is a 25% broker-to-broker referral fee if/when you actually close a deal that was gleaned from their platform.

They note that they work on quality over quantity because matches will be harder to come by seeing that they’re actually data-driven, as opposed to just sending you referrals based on what you spend each month on advertising.

But the leads they do send are apparently “serious,” so you may spend less time spinning your wheels as a real estate agent.

Homelight’s Home Value Estimator


One of the company’s latest features is its “Home Value Estimator,” which seems to be a more robust version of the Zillow Zestimate or Redfin Estimate.

You input your address on their site, then answer a few simple questions, including whether your home needs any work or is perfect as is, to augment their data.

Then you have to enter your name, email, and phone number in order to receive the free estimate. Again, this means they can solicit you via text, phone, email, etc.

Assuming you continue, you’ll receive a preliminary home value estimate, along with two options to sell your property.

Option A is known as the “HomeLight Simple Sale,” which is an all-cash offer that doesn’t require listing with an agent.

Instead, the property is sold to an iBuyer such as Opendoor, Offerpad, We Buy Houses, or Roofstock.

It’s unclear if HomeLight earns a referral fee, and if they plan to become direct iBuyers themselves.

Option B directs users to list with a top real estate agent in their area via the main HomeLight agent referral business.

The sales price projections are higher via Option B, which is probably the point of putting them side-by-side.

Ultimately, they want you to use on their agent partners to sell your home traditionally so they can earn a piece of the commission.

Read more: Should I let my friend sell my home?


  1. I personally think this is a very bad thing for starting agents like my self, this app would be ideal for the home buyer/seller, but for brokers and agents this would be very bad especially starting salesperson agents who are trying to build up a reputation because someone who has a good track record will always be chosen by the client over a staring agent, it would be devastating to starting brokers and agents

  2. I’ve been in the Real Estate Profession for over 40 years.

    This service is essentially the electronic web version of building a referral service, for which Brokers have been paying 20-25% for all my years in the business.

    Based on the cost of TV advertising, they are simply passing on to the public whomever does the most business. There is about a 25% amount of truth to this simple presentation.

    The whole truth is, it is merely a third party that has determined a way to use the data to produce income.

    This is no shock to me. Since the late 90’s these so-called geniuses have taken 6% of the amount of a house sale and, without understanding any more than the amount of the number and what it takes, has dreamed up a program to insert themselves into what would happen just as well without them.

    Remember, I gave them an approx 25% estimate of truth to their assumption that people doing the most transactions may do slightly better. I do not believe their numbers are as good as they say or even as good as my own. Most of what they are stating is a matter or “the current hot market”.

    Keep in mind, I get the statistical data every day on my home page on the MLS’s I use, so I have the facts in my face each day and can get very specific.

    I’ve had over 50 Brokers/Agents at once and know better.
    Adding a party, unrelated to the transaction, only reduces the fees the actual Broker/Agent will receive. Then they must split (or pay fees) with their office so they are splitting their time between you and possibly several other clients.

    My advice to buyers/sellers is this – First, make sure you are dealing with a Realtor (means strict code of ethics) because many do not add that because of cost and believe it or not there is no requirement for it. (It is sooo important!) Secondly, review more than one agent because more than anything besides the amount of transactions one does is, how well do you and the agent communicate. Finally, as part of the review of Broker/Agent is the question of how many of which type of transactions have they done in the past year and can they review some of them with you to show results. Then let them do their job! (hint, if they don’t talk to you at least every other day or so in this market there are either problems with the presentability or the price.

    Ciao for now and best to you!

  3. I used Homelight and it works as advertised, but there are several competing companies. A company in Los Angeles already two steps ahead of Zillow and Redfin, it’s called https://itz-sold.com and they offer to sell a house or a condo for 1% listing side commission.

  4. I found homelight online and thought wow this is great. I’ll put in my criteria and see what agents they match me with. Within seconds of doing this, my phone was ringing off the hook. They’re actually giving out my contact information to not only agents, but also to mortgage lenders and all kinds of people who have been emailing, calling and texting me non-stop since yesterday when I filled out the form. I should have known better! I wish businesses would realize that this is not how people want to be communicated with these days. It is the 21st century! I don’t need to get hundreds of calls at work or at 9pm at night when I’m trying to enjoy my family. So put your information there at your own risk and be prepared to be inundated with agents and lenders, etc. Funny thing is the agents that they recommended to me were NOTHING like what I was looking for. I ended up finding them on my own anyway.

  5. Homelight is nothing but a lead generator for warren buffet and his chain of real estate companies. Homelight will never give you the name of an agent with HALO GROUP REALTY or Weichert Realtors. No matter where you live, only a few real estate companies will get the lead and they are all controlled by warren buffet. total fraud. If you need a good agent, get recommendations from those you trust, not a website that lies…

  6. Their data is not acurate and they don’t disclose where they get it from. I think it would be great if they could get accurate data. The way they have it set up obviously has more than agents referrals in mind. They are smart for sure but I am not 100% sold on a system that is supposed to be telling you which is the best agent for you when the data used is not accurate. I am 100% sure of this.

  7. It’s important for buyers/sellers to know that Homelight only returns matches for these companies: Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Sotheby’s, Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, and Re/Max. There are many top performing real estate agents and brokers in communities that are independent, boutique brokerages – that are higher producers — that won’t return in the matches. Basically, Homelight makes it money buying selling the consumer’s information to mortgage brokers, home inspectors, etc and through referral fees from brokers. In short, the consumer is only getting a partial search return and a whole lot of phone calls from salespeople.

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