- Understanding Real Estate Commission Structures
- What Qualifies as a Low Commission?
- Are Low Commission Real Estate Agents Legit?
- Where to Find the Best Low-Commission Real Estate Agents?
- Benefits of Working with Low-Commission Real Estate Agents
- Drawbacks of Low Commission Agents
- Identifying Reputable Low Commission Agents Near You
- Alternatives to Low Commission Agents
- Getting the Most From Low-Commission Real Estate Agents
How to Find a Low Commission Real Estate Agent Near You
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned seller – paying a real estate agent’s commission can make you wince. After all, we’re talking thousands of dollars. When you see that big commission percentage on the listing agreement, it’s natural to wonder: Is there room for negotiation here? Could I save money on realtor fees and still get the same level of service?
While virtual tours and remote closings are now common, the truth is that skilled real estate agents are invaluable in guiding you through the process of buying or selling a home. They provide value through specialized knowledge, access to insider listing information, and expertise gained from years of experience.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on real estate commissions. Recently, more agents have discounted their fees, while others are willing to negotiate lower commissions to secure a listing agreement.
In this article, we’ll break down the typical real estate commission structures, what’s considered a “low” commission rate, and, most importantly, the pros and cons of getting an agent to lower their fees. Discover where to look for and how to vet a high-quality, low-commission real estate agent near you.
Understanding Real Estate Commission Structures
Real estate commissions are fees paid to agents for their services when selling a house. For years, the standard real estate commission has been 6% of the sale price, split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent.
The selling agent charges their client a commission. When a buyer’s agent brings a buyer, which results in a sale, the seller’s agent pays the buyer’s agent a portion of the commission. For example, in a 6% commission, each agent might receive 3%, or the seller’s agent might receive a slightly larger portion of the split.
It’s important to remember that real estate agents do not keep the entirety of their commission. If they are working under a broker, the broker receives a portion of the commission. A common commission split between a broker and agent is 30/70, meaning that the broker gets 30% of the commission, and the brokerage gets 70%. However, less experienced agents often have lower splits and can receive as little as 50% of their commission.
When evaluating commissions, it’s also important to note that agents incur fees when selling a house. Most sellers don’t pay for the expense of marketing their home. Instead, the agent fronts these expenses with the anticipation that they will be repaid when the sale goes through.
What Qualifies as a Low Commission?
What commission rate is considered “low” compared to the industry standard? There’s no definitive threshold, but generally, commissions below 4% fall into the low category, which gets split between the selling and buying agents.
The typical commission for a listing agent is around 2.5-3% of the home’s sale price. So, anything below 2.5-3% would be on the low end. The same rate goes for a buyer’s agent commission. Anything under 2% is generally considered a low rate.
Total commissions below 4%, or 2% for individual listing/buyer’s agents, fall into the “low” category compared to regular commission rates. When you want to spend less on realtor fees, understanding a reasonable low commission is important. It gives home buyers and sellers a benchmark to assess whether an agent’s proposed commission is lower than standard industry practice.
Are Low Commission Real Estate Agents Legit?
Low-commission real estate agents must meet the same legal requirements as traditional agents charging higher commissions. They must complete pre-licensing education, pass the state exam, and obtain their real estate license.
Low-commission agents have the same legal status as regular agents, meaning they are just as qualified and reputable – the only difference is their fee structure. Most even belong to the National Association of Realtors, following all ethics rules and meeting continuing education standards annually.
So, regarding qualifications and credentials, they are just as reputable as traditional, high-commission agents. However, they operate under a different business model, allowing them to charge lower fees.
A lower commission often means sellers don’t receive as many accommodations during the selling process. But, the discount commission does not mean they are any less knowledgeable, ethical, or qualified to represent buyers and sellers.
Where to Find the Best Low-Commission Real Estate Agents?
Finding a qualified, low-commission real estate agent is easier with the rise of discount real estate brokers from different platforms and great online searches.
FastExpert is a platform that connects home buyers and sellers with high-performing real estate agents in their local area. It’s the best place to find local low commission agents offering top-quality service.
FastExpert’s vast database of over 50,000 verified agent profiles makes it easy to find the perfect low commission agent. Compare agents side-by-side to see their experience, past sales track record, and verified client reviews.
The data available equips users with the insights needed to identify well-suited agents for their needs. Another great feature is that the platform is free to use. There’s no fee or subscription required to contact agents directly.
Get your questions answered and discuss fees without any obligation.
Other Platforms for Finding Low-Commission Agents
In addition to FastExpert, several other real estate platforms allow you to search for and connect with low-commission agents, these include:
Boasts over 5 million active home listings nationwide that you can browse through, and you can use its search tools to find specific buyer’s or seller’s agents in your area.
Redfin is an online discount real estate brokerage. They charge lower commissions of 1-1.5%.
In addition to featuring home listings, Zillow has a directory of real estate agent profiles that home buyers and sellers can browse. The platform allows you to contact agents and find a low commission real estate agent.
Clever operates an online brokerage model that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate agents charging lower commissions. Clever agent commissions start at just 1% of the home price.
- Regional Listing Sites
Many local MLS databases and small real estate listing sites allow searching for buyer’s agents and filtering by their offered commission percentage in specific metro areas.
Benefits of Working with Low-Commission Real Estate Agents
Lower fees offered by discounted-rate real estate agents give home buyers and sellers significant potential savings. And contrary to popular belief, many low-commission agents deliver the same high-quality service as higher-priced competitors.
Why would a seller want to work with a low-commission real estate agent?
Significant Cost Savings
The direct monetary savings from reduced commissions can be substantial, especially for higher-value homes.
For example, on the sale of a $500,000 home, a traditional agent charging a 6% commission would cost $30,000.
On the other hand, an agent offering a reduced 4% commission would only cost $20,000. Sellers can save $10,000 on this sale by going with a lower-fee agent.
Commission rates can make a big difference in how much you pay from the sale proceeds. Shopping around and comparing fees can result in huge cost savings. If you can save on realtor fees, you’ll have more proceeds for your next property or back in your pocket.
Comparable Service Quality
While it’s natural to assume lower fees mean lower service quality, this isn’t always true. Many discounted agents can offer excellent service, comparable to more expensive service providers.813
They maintain service quality by adopting innovative tools and technologies to work more efficiently.
These agents have developed efficient systems that allows them to put together high quality marketing materials and reach buyers. They have moved beyond analog and leverage automated systems and a supporting eam to deliver outstanding results.
Furthermore, as home prices have increased through the years, many agents represent the financial burden of a 6% commission. In 1980, the US median home price was just $47,200. Today, the US median home price is $431,000. While in 1980, a 6% commission on an “average” home was $2,832, today it’s $25,860.
That difference represents an 813% increase, directly applied to commissions that would be averaged out at nearly 19% annually. Therefore, the income growth rate of real estate agents has far surpassed the median hourly earnings in the United States because of a rise in housing prices.
So, with that said, is it fair to ask a real estate agent to lower reduce their commission? Probably. And many agents are willing to lower their commission rates to compete for work in their market. However, remember the upfront expenses an agent incurs when marketing your home and their broker’s commission share before asking for too much.
Drawbacks of Low Commission Agents
While the cost savings of lower real estate commissions may seem appealing, home sellers and buyers should consider some potential drawbacks to working with low-commission real estate agents.
Potential for Limited Service Scope
When it comes to lower commission rates, the saying “you get what you pay for” can sometimes ring true in real estate. Agents offering lower rates might scale back on services to maintain profitability. For instance, they may not invest as heavily in marketing your property. This reduced investment can translate to fewer high-quality photos, no videography, and more basic staging—if any.
Less marketing can result in poorer sales results. A listing that doesn’t stand out may attract fewer buyers, leading to a lower sale price. Marketing efforts bring more eyes to your property and help potential buyers envision themselves living there, which is a powerful selling tool.
Moreover, agents working with tighter commissions often juggle more listings to make up for lower earnings on each sale. A high-volume approach might mean they have less time to dedicate to each client. If your agent is overextended, they could miss calls from leads or be unavailable to provide the personalized attention you’d expect.
Sellers must weigh these factors when considering a lower commission rate. Saving on upfront costs is tempting, but if it affects the final sale price, it might not be the bargain it seems. Clarify what services a potential agent provides and consider how those services will impact your sale’s success.
Risks of Dual Agency
A concern with low-commission real estate agents is the increased likelihood of dual agency, which poses risks for home sellers. Dual agency occurs when the listing agent represents the buyer rather than referring them to a buyer’s agent. This can lead to potential conflicts as the agent has competing allegiances for each client.
Low commission real estate agents may be more likely to accept dual agency rather than split a reduced commission with another agent. For example, an agent charging a 4% total commission would earn only 2% if they had to split it. But representing both sides lets them earn the full 4%.
There are several downsides to a dual agency that impact clients, including:
- Lack of Advocacy – The agent cannot provide opinions or negotiate firmly for one side.
- Privacy Concerns – They cannot disclose sensitive price information, motivations, etc.
- Conflicts of Interest – The agent ultimately must facilitate the sale, not get the optimal deal for each client because that is no longer possible.
- Less Negotiation – With less advocacy, negotiation becomes challenging as the agent essentially negotiates with themselves.
Dual agency comes with the risk that the agent won’t fully represent each client’s interests. Home sellers should be aware of this possibility when working with discount agents. Ask your agent if they have ever entered dual agency relationships and clarify your expectations before signing a listing agreement.
Possible Reduced Home Visibility
If marketing and networking attention isn’t given to your property, it won’t be seen by as many buyers. A potential downside of working with a low-commission real estate agent is the risk of reduced visibility for your home listing.
With their income capped by discounted rates, some agents may cut back on marketing and promotion spending to maximize their profit on each sale. This could mean fewer print ads, less online exposure, and limited staging.
You may also miss out on brokerage website features, improved search rankings, targeted social media ads, quality photography, and prime open house scheduling.
It’s important to clarify exactly what marketing services low-commission agents offer; be ready to pay out of pocket if you want additional exposure for your home.
Sale Falling Through Risks
When working with a low-commission real estate agent, home sellers face increased risks of the sale falling through before closing. Some potential vulnerabilities include:
- Lack of responsiveness.
- Less invested in the sale.
- Limited support.
Agents make less per sale in a discount commission structure, so there is less motivation to ensure each one closes. If an agent isn’t on their A-game, they could miss important communication or deadlines. Poor service could result in a sale falling through, resulting in the sale being back at square one.
Identifying Reputable Low Commission Agents Near You
Don’t let the upfront savings overshadow the need for due diligence when hiring a real estate agent offering lower commissions. If you want to save on realtor fees, you need to make sure you’re still working with a top real estate agent.
Detailed Listing Agreement Reviews
When reviewing a listing agreement, sellers should carefully examine each section. Focus on clauses about marketing, showings, negotiating, and fees. Ensure the fine print aligns with any verbal discussions held. Don’t depend solely on an agent’s verbal promises.
Double-check that all fees and commission rates match pre-negotiations. Never feel pushed to sign quickly and take time to get questions answered satisfactorily instead.
Investigate Agent Track Records
When researching potential agents, dig into their sales track record online. Platforms like FastExpert help you find local low commission agents. FastExpert offers transparent data on an agent’s listing history and experience. Look for consistently high sales volumes over several years, indicating an agent’s ability to move properties quickly.
Next, check their average days on the market. Shorter days indicate strong pricing and marketing strategies. See if they have experience selling homes specifically in your neighborhood. Local expertise helps them best position and sell your individual property.
Lastly, ask the agent for references. Experienced and reputable agents will happily provide the contact details of past clients.
An agent consistently achieving quick sales and high volumes shows negotiating skills and demand generation abilities. This level of expertise is what you want, even from low-commission agents.
Online Presence and Reviews Check
An agent’s online presence and client reviews give great insight into their expertise and work style.
Platforms like FastExpert provide verified reviews directly from an agent’s past clients—read what actual customers say. If you want to dive deeper, cross-reference these reviews with those on Google and Yelp. Consistency builds credibility.
Look for positive feedback around an agent’s availability, communication skills, negotiation tactics, and ability to successfully guide transactions through closing. Authentic reviews from multiple sources help gauge whether an agent lives up to promises and delivers results.
Clarify Services Offered
Ask specific questions about an agent’s services and how they handle the sales process.
Here are some suggested questions to clarify the services offered by a low-commission real estate agent:
- What is your full scope of services – from listing to closing? Are there any common transaction tasks you do not handle?
- Do you have a network of buyer agents you refer clients to? Or do you work as a dual agent representing buyers and sellers?
- What specific marketing channels will you use to promote my home? Will you create print ads, online listings, social media promotions, open houses, etc?
- How will you coordinate showings and communicate feedback from potential buyers?
- How available will you be to address questions and handle issues throughout the process?
Alternatives to Low Commission Agents
Though low-commission real estate agents promise savings on fees, they are the only way to save money on your property sale. Home sellers should explore these alternative options before working with a discounted agent.
Traditional Real Estate Agents
Despite the appeal of low fees, home sellers should carefully weigh the value offered by traditional full-service real estate agents charging standard commission rates.
With a traditional real estate agent charging the standard commission rate, you can be confident that you will receive dedicated time and service. You can trust the agent to prioritize your listing, spending money staging, photographing, and marketing to maximize interest. Their full investment in your home sale motivates them to push for the best price.
Top agents justify their fees with effective marketing, expansive buyer networks, and successful negotiations. Their service quality could even result in more net proceeds from a higher sale price.
However, don’t hesitate to ask real estate agents to discount their commission. Now more than ever, real estate agents are willing to negotiate a lower commission. Even if they only lower it by half a percent, that could represent thousands in savings.
For Sale By Owner (FSBO)
For Sale By Owner, or FSBO, refers to homeowners who sell their property independently without hiring a real estate agent. FSBO sellers take on marketing tasks, open houses, showings, negotiating offers, and handling contracts and paperwork themselves.
The main appeal of FSBO is avoiding a commission fee paid to listing agents. FSBO sellers can list on the industry’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS) through a flat fee MLS company to gain visibility. These firms charge an upfront and/or monthly fee to input the listing data into the MLS database for agent searches. An MLS listing expands the pool of potential buyers but doesn’t replace a real estate agent’s services.
While home sellers avoid agent commissions and retain more profit, there is a cost of selling your house without an agent—you lose the expertise and connections a qualified agent provides. An FSBO sale requires extensive time and effort to execute successfully.
Sellers must educate themselves on real estate regulations, market conditions, pricing, negotiations, and legal documentation. While FSBO sales can be successful with proper preparation, sellers should carefully weigh the risks and benefits when considering this route.
iBuyer Companies, Cash Platforms, and Investors
A new type of real estate company has emerged – the “iBuyer.” These instant buying platforms like Opendoor, Flyhomes, and Orchard use algorithms to make online cash offers for homes, often without seeing the property.
For sellers, the appeal is speed and simplicity. In some cases, you can get an offer within 24-48. The sale process is streamlined from start to finish, avoiding the hassles of a traditional agent-led sale.
But convenience comes at a cost. To resell at a profit, iBuyers typically pay below market value. Furthermore, while they don’t charge a commission, they do charge fees equal to or exceeding the typical real estate commission. iBuyer fees often reach 6-8% on a standard sale.
So, while you lose the personalized service of an experienced agent, those needing a quick and painless sale find iBuyers enticing. For some, the simplified process of no repairs, showings, or open houses is worth the tradeoff.
iBuyers have changed the game, allowing busy or financially distressed sellers to tap into an ultra-fast sales track. However, sellers should weigh the lower returns versus convenience when considering these instant home-buying platforms.
Getting the Most From Low-Commission Real Estate Agents
When considering low commission real estate agents, the key is vetting thoroughly to find those dedicated to exemplary service despite discounted fees.
While the cost-savings may be appealing, you want confidence that they will provide the marketing, exposure, and negotiation skills needed for a successful sale.
Use FastExpert’s industry-leading search to research agents, read past client reviews, and assess sales track records. With FastExpert, you can find low commission agents willing to go the extra mile to deliver results.
Like any professional, the right real estate agent is worth their fees, provided they deliver results. Focus your search on expertise, experience, and commitment to your sale. With careful due diligence and using platforms like FastExpert, you can find an agent that exceeds expectations, regardless of their fee model.