When it comes to how REALTORS get paid, there seems to be some confusion among consumers. Sellers typically have a good grasp on it, since their listing agreement spells out exactly how much using an agent will cost them. But buyers are often unaware of exactly how their agent makes money.
Let’s break it down.
Don’t REALTORS get paid a salary?
Nope. There are a couple of brokerages out there that have agents as employees, but the average REALTOR gets paid only when they close a sale. We don’t receive any compensation for showing houses, so loyalty is important to us. Just as we are loyal to our buyer clients, we expect them to be loyal to us as well. It’s why we suggest interviewing multiple agents before choosing one to work with so you can be sure you’re making a good choice.
Seller’s Agent Commission
There are commission and marketing models for every seller, from iBuyers to flat fee, low fee, and full-service brokerages. What doesn’t change, no matter what type of listing agent you choose is that the listing agent is paid by the seller.
When a listing agreement is signed, the seller agrees to a set commission amount (which is always, always, always negotiable). Additionally, the seller is notified by the listing agent how much of the commission they are being paid will be offered to a buyer’s agent that brings a qualified contract. Usually, it’s half, but not always.
Buyer’s Agent Commission
If a home is listed in the MLS, how REALTORs get paid is pretty straightforward. When we input a new listing into the MLS, one of the required fields is how much we will pay a cooperating buyer’s agent. So, technically, you could say that a buyer’s agent gets paid by the listing brokerage. However, the money is coming from the seller, so ultimately how much is offered to the buyer’s agent is set by the home seller.
If a buyer wants an agent to assist them in purchasing a For Sale by Owner (FSBO), then the agent will attempt to have the owner pay their commission. If the owner refuses, the buyer can agree to pay the commission in order to have representation.
What’s not true, despite how long agents have been touting it, is that working with a buyer’s agent is free. Those agents are not working for free, they just generally get paid by the seller, not their clients.
The more you know, y’all. The more you know.