Compare Zillow Flex Program and Better.com Real Estate

For Sellers

Referred Agents
25%-40%
Referral Fee
Zillow Premier Broker program does not provide real estate services to home sellers. Instead, this program matches consumers with various real estate agents in exchange for a 25%-40% referral fee. Zillow Premier Broker results suffer from pay-to-play bias because the network does not match consumers with agents unwilling to pay a significant part of their commission.

For Sellers

Not Applicable
0
No Rates
Better Real Estate does not openly advertise listing services for consumers.

For Buyers

Referred Agents
25%-40%
Referral Fee
Zillow Premier Broker program does not provide real estate services to home buyers. Instead, this program matches consumers with various real estate agents in exchange for a 25%-40% referral fee. Zillow Premier Broker results suffer from pay-to-play bias because the network does not match consumers with agents unwilling to pay a significant part of their commission.

For Buyers

Partner Agents
25%-40%
Referral Fee
Better Partner Agents do not work for Better Real Estate. Instead, Better Real Estate matches consumers with various real estate agents in exchange for 25%-40% referral fees. This is a form of collusion and all matched results suffer from pay-to-play bias because Better.com does not match consumers with agents unwilling to pay cut of their commission. When using Better Partner Agents consumers subject their home purchase to hidden kickbacks and fake price-fixed savings.

For Buyers

Buyer's Savings
+/- 32% (see note)
Commission Rebate
When Better Real Estate represents home buyers, it contributes an estimated 32% of its Buyer's Agent Commission (1% rebate from the 2.5%-3% BAC) to the buyer as a way to financially compete for a buyer’s business. Home buyers do not pay any taxes on the amount, the refund amount is always tax-free. This offer is only available where allowed by law. However, Better.com Real Estate buyer agent services and Better.com mortgage origination services are unlawfully tied. In this scheme, consumers are harmed by being forced to buy a fairly common service (mortgage origination service) to purchase a much more valuable service they want (buyer agent savings from a real estate brokerage transaction.)
Question: What is the difference between Zillow Flex Program and Better.com Real Estate?
Answer: Both Zillow Flex Program and Better.com Real Estate function as a referral fee network that enables broker-to-broker collusion with use of blanket referral agreements.
Compare Zillow Flex Program and Better.com Real Estate for home buying and selling. HomeOpenly is an impartial and an open resource focused on trending real estate services, portals and start-ups.

First published: 15 September 2021
Last updated: 15 September 2021

Buying and Selling with Zillow Flex Program

Consumer Warning

Zillow Flex Program is a broker-to-broker collusion scheme, where all real estate agents agree to pay massive kickbacks to receive your information. As a consumer, you will always overpay for broker commissions subject to hidden kickbacks and pay-to-play steering promoted in their referral scheme. United States federal antitrust laws prohibit consumer allocation and blanket referral agreements between real estate companies. Do not allow your information to be "sold as a lead" between brokers in exchange for massive commission kickbacks paid from your future home sale, or your future home purchase.


Zillow Flex Program is a real estate referral fee network that is designed to collect undisclosed referral fees from real estate agents. Within this network, Zillow Group screens and refers consumers to real estate agents with a pre-existing "blanket" referral agreements. Zillow Group refers to this referral service as a Zillow Flex Program because it allows brokers to participate without paying any upfront costs to Zillow Group.

As a consumer filling out a contact form on the Zillow-owned (Zillow, Trulia, etc.) web site, "you authorize Zillow to make Real Estate Referral and acknowledge Zillow may be paid valuable consideration for facilitating such referral." Zillow Group does not disclose to consumers how much "valuable consideration" it receives from participating brokers. "The established referral fees are specific to each market in order to account for local pricing trends," according to Zillow.

Zillow Flex Program is a form of pay-to-play consumer brokering product that relies on the use of blanket referral agreements to pay for each referral. Blanket referral agreements between brokers are a per se violation of the Sherman Act. With Zillow Flex Program consumers are effectively pre-screened by Zillow and “sold as leads” to whoever is willing to pay for this information with a share of their commission.

Zillow Flex Program Pricing

Zillow Premier Broker does not offer paid services to consumers directly, instead, the portal generates revenue with estimated 25%-40% referral fees from real estate brokers. Zillow Group declines to disclose the exact fee amount.

Listing Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Sellers

Buyer's Agent Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Buyers

Zillow Flex Program Editor's Review:

This review is focused on the Zillow Flex Program program only. Two separate reviews are assigned to Zillow Instant Offers and Zillow MLS aggregator programs. Since Zillow was first founded, it has idolized itself as a real estate Internet company. However, with an introduction of Zillow Flex Program in 2018, this is no longer the case.

Today, Zillow acts as a "paper" real estate broker. This fact allows Zillow to receive referral fees from real estate agents across the United States.

Zillow operates under the following real estate brokerage license in the following States:

Arizona CO580407000
California 01522444
California 01980367
Colorado 100080923
Florida CQ1058944
Georgia 76885
Minnesota 40638657
Nevada B.1002277.CORP
North Carolina C30388
Texas 549646
Washington 21212
Wisconsin 835987-91

Real estate agents are allowed to pay one another referral fees with a narrow RESPA provision that is needed to allow individual agents to refer business to other individual agents outside their service area. Despite being registered as a broker, Zillow does not perform real estate services, it simply sends leads to specific agents within its network and uses a real estate license to collect a back-loaded referral fee in the process.

Referral fee revenue is 32x that of a regular advertisement revenue because it results in an economic process called reverse competition, where consumers suffer from elevated costs and lower service as a result. A referral network is anything but free.

The following are some telling quotes from Zillow itself and a Premier Broker program participants. These words speak for themselves.

  • "We receive listing and buyer referrals directly from Zillow's Premier Broker concierge services. These leads have been scrubbed and vetted before they are directly handed off to you." Source: Sonoma County RE/MAX Marketplace, Zillow Flex Program participant.
  • "We will validate all leads first, then send agent-ready buyers to you." Source: Zillow website.
  • "What happens if you miss a call? Don't worry. You won't lose your place in the queue and we will call you with the next connection we validate." Source: Zillow website.

Zillow Group does not disclose the exact amount in referral fees it collects from Premier Brokers, aside from stating that it is an "industry standard." Similar referral fee networks typically receive 25%-40% of the agent's total commission. This is a good reference for the amount in commissions consumers can expect to overpay for their real estate services with a Premier Broker. Zillow Flex Program is a pay-to-play process that harms the industry as a whole and makes buying and selling homes more expensive.

Why does the Zillow allow for such poor UX? There are thousands and sometimes tens of thousands in fees collected from each transaction effectively hidden in consumer’s commission.

Consumers in the United States have been systematically conditioned to a 6% "standard" commission structure, a non-negotiable fact that needs no justification. Unfortunately, this inefficiency alone breeds uncompetitive behavior where real estate agents can easily pay tens of thousands in fees because they are recoverable with a high commission.

Consumers are truly forgotten in this model as an afterthought. When these exigent commissions are amortized over the first five years of homeownership, these fees are the highest single expense line-item - more than the insurance, more than the interest, more than utilities. Clearly, real estate agents only sign-up with Premier Broker because the price of the referral fee can be easily incorporated into their client's agreement with excessive commissions.

RESPA allows for an exception for real estate agents if and only if “all parties are acting in a real estate brokerage capacity" so that individual agents can refer each other when they are out of the local area. This exception has now been turned up-side-down where a referral network does not act in the capacity of a real estate broker. Zillow Group simply uses a license to collect fees without any tangible services done as defined by said license.

Consumers looking to work with a legitimate real estate agent on fair terms should absolutely avoid Zillow Flex Program and never release their full name, email and a phone number to Zillow Group.

The issue of having all US residential real estate markets heavily subjected to these schemes results in noncompetitive behavior, higher costs to consumers and lower quality of service. Having agents "commonly" pay networks 25%-45% of their commission is the true reason why real estate is broken.

Zillow Group matches consumers with "great, amazing, top-producing, perfect agents" based on who first picks up the phone and who is willing to kick in a chunk of their commission, this is the main basis for this process.

What happens when this flawed revenue model is no longer sustainable due to competitive commissions entering the market? The next stage of real estate innovation will have to account for this reality. In play are now competitive open rates, flat fees and buyer’s refunds from highly qualified real estate agents.

Transparent commission rates will eventually bring and end to a pay-to-play phenomenon in the real estate process where programs like Premier Broker simply cannot exist.

Today, consumers should be careful and only negotiate with agents that have no referral fee agreements signed, this is the only way to negotiate for full service at a market rate.

Where does Zillow Flex Program operate?

Zillow Flex Program currently operates in select areas across Fort Collins, CO, Pueblo, CO, New Haven, CT, Norwich, CT, Phoenix, AZ and Atlanta, GA..

Buying and Selling with Better Real Estate

Consumer Warning

Better.com Real Estate is a broker-to-broker collusion scheme, where all real estate agents agree to pay massive kickbacks to receive your information. As a consumer, you will always overpay for broker commissions subject to hidden kickbacks and pay-to-play steering promoted in their referral scheme. United States federal antitrust laws prohibit consumer allocation and blanket referral agreements between real estate companies. Do not allow your information to be "sold as a lead" between brokers in exchange for massive commission kickbacks paid from your future home sale, or your future home purchase.


Better Real Estate is a real estate broker and broker-to-broker collusion scheme designed to collect fees by matching consumers with local Realtors. Better Real Estate operates as a licensed real estate brokerage in a number of states, primarily in New York as BRE Services, LLC License #10991232130

When consumers submit information to Better Mortgage or Better Real Estate, this information is shared in exchange for an undisclosed fee with random real estate agents in a process known as a "blind match." In some instances Better Real Estate acts as an affiliate of Better Mortgage and may represent consumers directly, however, Better Mortgage and Better Real Estate services are unlawfully tied.

Better Real Estate Pricing

Better Real Estate revenue comes from buyer agent commissions and undisclosed referral fees from competing Realtors. Referral fees set by such networks range anywhere between 25%-40% of the entire agent’s commission.

Better Real Estate pricing for buyer and seller representation is impossible to determine because broker services are unlawfully bundled with mortgage services where company's offers are available "to conforming loan product customers who have (a) entered a purchase contract on a home using the Better Real Estate Agent or Better Real estate Partner Agent; and (b) closed a mortgage loan on said home with Better Mortgage Corporation."

Listing Services

  • This Service Does Not Represent Sellers

Buyer's Agent Services

  • Find the Property
  • Recommend Other Professionals
  • Attend Inspection Services
  • Schedule Private Showings
  • Negotiate Needed Repairs
  • Closing Duties
  • Accept and Deliver All Offers and Counteroffers

Better.com Real Estate Editor's Review:

Better Real Estate is a licensed real estate broker and a broker collusion scheme that organizes and price-fixes services of competitors in exchange for hidden kickbacks it receives from the "partner agent" commissions.

Using its website, Better Real Estate engages in a process known as price fixing because it sets buyer rebates for independent real estate professionals (Better Real Estate Partner Agents) that have agreed to participate in the scheme. According to the Better.com website, "Purchase borrowers matched with a Better Real Estate Agent may receive $2,000 in lender credits and purchase borrowers matched with a Better Real Estate Partner Agent may receive up to 1% of the home sales price in lender credits." For purposes of the present discussion, brokerage fees are always negotiable and no broker should set rates and rebates for other brokers. Each firm should establish its own policy as to its fee structure and charges, amount of commissions, and rebates. Price fixing is prohibited by federal antitrust legislation. Individual agents must never discuss, or set rates with brokers outside of their own company.

By setting rates and rebates for a network of competing brokers across the United States, Better Real Estate operates with a sole purpose to collect referral fees, where such service effectively results in lower quality of service, pay-to-play bias, and a "blind match" with agents willing to participate.

The price fixed rates established by Better Real Estate scheme are severely inflated (for buyers, the buyer rebate is severely reduced) due to hidden kickbacks. Further, these same exact "partner agents" are in collusion with Better Real Estate, therefore, they are unethical and unlikely to provide any form of honest representation to homebuyers. Consumers using Better Real Estate "partner network" have zero control over what agents the company shares their information with. Instead of being "sold as leads" consumers looking for a competitive and fair representation can consider negotiating directly with real estate agents, or with help from unbiased consumer-focused online services that do not collect kickbacks.

Better.com Price-Fixing Harms Homebuyers

Better Real Estate offers a “discount” to consumers from a blanket referral fee earned, not from a commission earned. This is a form of price-fixing and is, effectively, a kickback derived from another kickback, instead of a legal buyer's rebate mechanism.

The true intention of Better Real Estate is to motivate the consumer to use the network with a “discount” tangled as a carrot, despite the massive disadvantages of a hidden referral fee. In such a scenario, the consumer ends up grossly overpaying for their buyer's agent commission due to the hidden kickbacks between the mortgage company and the brokerage in their referral network.

Better Real Estate Partner Agents do not compete with each other in the scheme on price and level of service – they are simply farmed out to consumers. In this price-fixing scheme, Better Real Estate is not involved in a transaction of the actual home purchase. Better Real Estate LLC does not produce any tangible service to the purchaser of a home, but it merely sets up a network of brokers for its own benefit – to siphon off a cut of the buyer’s agent commission.

More importantly, price-fixing is an unlawful practice, and every agent who participates with Better Real Estate is a participant in the scheme. Saving consumers from having to pay excessive brokerage fees can never be justified with price-fixing, especially in exchange for a financial gain between brokers.

Several laws combine to form the core of federal antitrust laws, but the Sherman Act is the primary piece of these regulations. Section 1 of the Sherman Act states: “Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce … is declared to be illegal.” This means that (1) there must at least two parties agreeing to take action, and (2) the agreed-upon action must restrain free trade.

The parties in this case are Better Real Estate and any broker they refer a buyer to. These two independent parties are carrying out a common course of action by setting fixed commissions with the use of blanket referral agreements for mutual financial gain.

While Better Real Estate price fixes an arbitrary rate for all agents, such proposition becomes absurd when comparing home transactions worth $15 Million to home transactions worth $150,000 in different states, rural, or urban areas, variable market conditions, etc. Obviously, in some situations, consumers' interest maybe with the lowest fees, in other cases, consumers are looking for the most experienced agents, etc. Better Real Estate cannot account for these differences because the collusion scheme is not designed to deliver value, it is designed to lure consumers under a false premise for savings.

Better.com Kickbacks and Unearned Fees

Further, it is a per se violation of antitrust laws for brokers to set “standard” compensation that will be paid to other brokers. Referral fees amount paid to Better Real Estate are "blanket" fee agreements that do not comply with RESPA.

Real estate agents (only when they act in full brokerage capacity) may discuss or negotiate the referral fees concerning an individual transaction, but real estate professionals are not allowed to enter into “uniform” or “blanket” agreement on how a commission will be split, or a “standard” referral fee paid. The reason for this is exactly the premise behind the Better Real Estate scheme, where an organizer of a hub-and-spoke conspiracy steers consumers toward other brokers in exchange for a pre-arranged referral fees.

From this discussion, it becomes clear that quality and honest real estate professionals establish pricing for their services independently, and without any kickbacks. The truth is, every single agent is different, and every single agent has an individual commission structure.

The entire RESPA prohibition against kickbacks was enacted specifically to stop mortgage companies from entering into symbiotic relationships with real estate brokers. Better.com may seem like a clever by-pass of RESPA’s prohibition against kickbacks, but this loophole is built entirely on the use of blanket referral agreements between brokers designed to restrain free trade.

Better.com Tying of Services

Better Real Estate does offer brokerage services directly to consumers in some instances, but even then, these services are unlawfully tied into Better.com mortgage offerings. Better.com "savings offers" are "open to real estate agent referral customers who have (a) entered a purchase contract on a home using a real estate agent referred by Finche, LLC, dba BRE, Better Home Services and Better Real Estate; and (b) closed a mortgage loan on said home with Better Real Estate’s affiliated mortgage lender, Better Mortgage Corporation."

In this tying scheme, consumers are harmed by being forced to buy a fairly common service (mortgage origination service) to purchase a much more valuable service they want (buyer agent savings from a real estate brokerage transaction.) Consumers must be able to shop for mortgage origination services and real estate representation services independently. This tying agreement is further complicated with an unlawful price-fixing of services offered by competitors - Better Real Estate Partner Agents.

Why Better.com Colludes with Realtors?

The Realtor® commissions in the United States have long suffered from the "standard" 6% myth and the false notion that "buyer agents work for free." However, these myths cannot be resolved with price-fixing of commissions to some other level, in exchange for kickbacks. The Sherman Act imposes criminal penalties of up to $100 million for a corporation and $1 million for an individual, along with up to 10 years in prison. The actual damages are further trebled. No legitimate Realtor® will ever willingly allow themselves to be exposed to such massive liability.

The best, highly-experienced, well-educated, law-abiding, honest, and ethical Realtors® will never participate in price-fixing because it is a felony that carries massive penalties. The best Realtors® are able to recognize price fixing as wrong because they respect the true value of honest negotiations.

Better Real Estate buyer agent services and Better.com mortgage origination services are unlawfully tied. Better Real Estate engages in price fixing and consumer allocation with competitors. Why does this company do all this? This trend is a brazen new strategy used by a handful of VC-backed real estate companies, including Better.com, that are forced to deliver unreasonably high returns on billions of investments poured into them.

As of September 2021, Better.com has taken about $905 million in funding and suffers from a sky-high burn rate. To make up for this poor allocation of capital, commonly known as mega-rounds, Better.com uses a set of unlawful strategies to increase the gross revenue from mortgage origination services and real estate services by unlawfully bundling them.

The short answer is: Better Real Estate's intent to fix prices is directly tied into the massive kickbacks it receives from the "partner agents." This dynamic is archived by allocation of consumers to competitors and by the restraint of genuine competition. The "standard commissions" problem in the residential real estate sector can only be fixed legally by encouraging Realtors® to set and advertise competitive prices to consumers at scale without paying any kickbacks. All kickbacks taken by Better Real Estate are savings lost to consumers, funneled into the wrong bank account.

Where does Better.com Real Estate operate?

Better.com Real Estate currently operates in select areas across United States.