One of the key features of real estate is that everything is negotiable. The price, closing date, closing costs, appliances, and more are all frequently factors that receive the attention of negotiation. But can you negotiate realtor commissions as well?
While some agents won’t take a reduced commission, many will, especially in difficult economic times.
It seems like the traditional 6% commission is set in stone, but sometimes it’s not. There are several things you can do as a seller to reduce this amount. After all, on a $200,000 house we’re talking about another $2,000 for each percentage point; who couldn’t use another $2,000?
Here’s how to make this work and save 1-2% on that commission payout:
Realistic Listing Price
No agent wants to try to sell a home when the owner has unreasonable expectations; not only do they have to show a home that won’t sell because it’s overpriced, but they also have to deal with a difficult owner. Be sure to take your agent’s advice seriously.
Obviously, the agent doesn’t get paid unless the house sells. Pricing the home reasonably will allow many agents to feel more comfortable taking a lower commission, since there should be less time and work involved. So the less work the agent has to do, the more likely they will agree to a reduced commission.
Also, getting paid something is always better than getting nothing. By setting a realistic selling price, the agent will get the message that you’re trying to sell your home quickly. They aren’t going to want to risk you taking an easy job to another agent.
The same idea applies with a buyer’s agent: make things easy for them. Most buyers’ agents, though, split the regular commission with the seller’s agent, so they’re both paid by the seller. But if you’re paying, get pre-qualified for a mortgage and know what you’re looking for. Know what part of town you’re interested in and how much you want to spend.
Approaching the Negotiation
So now your agent knows that you’re serious and prepared to move forward quickly. They can also see that the workload should be quite low. The only thing left to do is to simply ask.
Tactfully and with respect, go ahead and ask for a 1-2% discount on the commission. Explain that you want to sell (or buy) quickly and really need the extra money. At this point, the agent will either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If the agent refuses, and the money is most important to you, you might want to switch agents. There’s always someone that will play ball with you.
Keep in mind, also, that there are several flat-fee brokers in every area. These brokers typically offer reduced services, so you’re going to have to do more work yourself, but it’s entirely feasible to make this situation work, too.
Real estate commissions are certainly negotiable, just like everything else in a real estate transaction. Don’t be afraid to ask for a reduced commission. Just be sure that you’re being reasonable. You should be willing to reduce the amount of work your agent has to do by setting your selling price at a reasonable price-point.
If you’re using a buyer’s agent whose commission is coming out of your pocket, get pre-qualified, know specifically what you want, and don’t try to low-ball your way into a great deal (it will take a lot of offers and a lot of time).
Save yourself some real money and negotiate a lower commission; anyone can do it!