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Blog » Business » How to Negotiate a Real Estate Commission as a Realtor

How to Negotiate a Real Estate Commission as a Realtor

by Tan Tason
how to negotiate a real estate commission

Real estate is a complex and dynamic industry that requires skill, knowledge, and finesse to succeed. One of the most critical skills for real estate agents is commission negotiation. Negotiating commission is essential for earning a fair income, satisfying clients, and charging a reasonable commission that aligns with market expectations. Therefore, knowing how to negotiate a real estate commission can make a difference in your career.

Real estate agents must negotiate their commissions to establish their value and ensure they are adequately compensated for their work. Agents can develop long-lasting relationships with their clients, demonstrate their expertise, and establish themselves as trusted advisors if they negotiate commissions successfully.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide to commission negotiation in real estate, covering everything from understanding your value and market to effective negotiation strategies and counteroffers.

Table of Contents

The Commission Structure

As a real estate agent, it’s crucial to understand how commissions work in the industry before negotiating fees with clients.

How do real estate commissions work?

Real estate commissions are typically a percentage of the property’s sale price. This commission is split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents, each typically receiving around 3% of the sale price. However, the commission rate can vary depending on the type of property, the region, and the current market conditions. It’s important to note that the commission is only paid if the property is sold. Otherwise, the agent does not receive any commission. Additionally, the seller typically pays the commission, although this can be negotiated in certain circumstances.

Standard commission rates

As mentioned, the standard commission rate is usually around 6% of the property’s sale price. Depending on the property and region, the buyer and seller’s agent each receive 3% of the sale price. In some regions, the commission rate may be as low as 5% or as high as 7%. Also, the commission rate may be higher for luxury properties, typically around 8-10% of the sale price.

The different types of commission structures

Different types of commission structures can be negotiated between the agent and the client. These include:

Flat fee

Instead of charging a percentage of the sale price, the agent charges a flat fee for their services. This can be a good option for clients selling a lower-priced property, as they may pay less in commission.

Tiered commission

With a tiered commission structure, the agent charges a higher commission rate if the property sells for a higher price. This can incentivize the agent to work harder to sell the property for the highest possible price.

Performance-based commission

In a performance-based commission structure, the agent earns a higher commission rate if they fulfill specified goals, such as selling the property within a given period or at a specific sale price.
Understanding the commission structure is essential for negotiating a fair commission rate with clients.

The different types of commission structures

How to Negotiate a Real Estate Commission

Commission negotiation is an essential part of the real estate industry, as it helps agents balance earning a just income with charging a reasonable commission. Follow the practical steps outlined below to navigate this process successfully. These steps will help you sharpen your negotiation skills and confidently approach commission negotiations, regardless of your experience.

Understand your value proposition

Understanding your value proposition as a real estate agent is essential to knowing how to negotiate a real estate commission. A “value proposition” is a statement that explains what makes you unique and why someone should choose to work with you. It’s a way to differentiate yourself from other real estate agents in the industry and highlight the value you bring to the table.

As a first step, discover your unique selling points as a real estate agent and consider what distinguishes you from other agents. This could include your experience, expertise in a specific market or property type, marketing strategy, negotiation skills, or network of contacts.

Consider what makes you stand out from the competition and how to leverage those strengths to provide value to your clients. For example, if you have a strong network of contacts in a specific market, you can use that network to help your clients find the perfect property or buyer.

Then highlight these points during the negotiation process, emphasize your value proposition, and explain why you are worth the commission you request. You can differentiate yourself from other agents and justify your commission rate by emphasizing your unique selling points and the value you bring.

For instance, if you have a proven track record of selling properties quickly and for a high price, you can use this as leverage when negotiating with a client eager to sell their property quickly. You can demonstrate why you are worth the commission rate you request by highlighting your strengths and providing examples of past successes.

Know your client

Knowing your customer is essential when negotiating real estate commission rates, as it allows you to understand their motivations and expectations and tailor your services to their demands. To customize services and negotiate commission rates, determine the client’s motivation for buying or selling a property. It helps meet their needs and leads to a successful transaction and positive relationship. For example, if clients are motivated to sell their property quickly, they may be willing to pay a higher commission rate to ensure a quick sale.

In addition to understanding their motivation, it’s essential to identify your client’s expectations. This includes what they want in a property, their preferred timeline, and their budget. For example, if your client is looking for a luxury property, they may require more personalized service and a higher commission rate may be justified. Alternatively, if your client has a limited budget, they may require more flexibility regarding commission rates and services provided.

Also, aligning your services with the client’s needs is crucial during commission negotiation. This means tailoring your services to match their expectations and providing personalized attention throughout the transaction. Doing so can demonstrate your value as an agent and justify your commission rate. For example, if your client is a first-time homebuyer, they may require more guidance and support throughout the process. By providing personalized attention and support, you can justify a higher commission rate and demonstrate the value you bring to the table.

You can negotiate fair and acceptable commission rates by knowing clients’ motivations and expectations and integrating your services with their requirements. This leads to a successful purchase and a great future connection with your customers.

Prepare for the negotiation

Before negotiating, it’s essential to research what other agents in your area are charging for their services. This can help you determine a fair rate to charge and how you compare to other agents in the industry. You can research the competition by looking at online listings, checking other agents’ websites, and attending open houses. By doing so, you can gain insight into the local real estate market and better understand what your clients may be expecting from you.

Identifying potential objections

When negotiating, it’s important to anticipate potential objections from the client and prepare counterarguments. This can help you address any concerns the client may have and justify your commission rate.

For example, if the client is concerned that the commission rate is too high, explain the value of your services and how they can lead to a successful transaction. By addressing their concerns and providing evidence of your value, you can help them see the benefit of paying your commission rate.

Setting realistic goals

Setting realistic goals is essential when negotiating commission rates. This means understanding what you need to earn to cover your expenses and make a profit while also considering the client’s needs and expectations.

For example, if the client is motivated to sell their property quickly, you may need to adjust your commission rate to meet their needs. Alternatively, if the property is in a competitive market and you have a strong value proposition, you can negotiate a higher commission rate.

Setting realistic negotiating objectives can help you avoid unrealistic expectations and guarantee a successful transaction for you and the client.
Start the negotiation process

Start the negotiation process

Negotiating real estate commission rates is essential to building a successful client relationship. If you’d like to know how to negotiate a real estate commission successfully, follow the steps below.

Describe your responsibilities

Prepare a list of your tasks to buy or sell a home. These duties include interacting with homeowners, brokers, and agents; researching properties and the local property market; measuring homes; inspecting and appraising properties; and talking to loan officials and local authorities. It is crucial to clarify that the agent works hard and has the specialized knowledge to justify a 5%–7% commission.

Listen to the client’s concerns

Listening to the client’s concerns and understanding their needs and expectations helps you tailor your approach and build trust and rapport with them.

Present your value proposition

Present your value proposition and explain why you are worth the commission rate you request. Highlight your unique selling points, such as your experience, expertise, marketing strategy, negotiation skills, and network of contacts. By presenting your value proposition, you can justify your commission rate and differentiate yourself from other agents in the industry.

Explain where commissions go

Explain how the commission is distributed to different people and resources to justify your fees. You might have to pay a significant franchise fee or divide your revenue with brokers. Taxes, withholdings, and costs are related to promoting and maintaining your business.

Offer testimonials

If you want to justify your real estate commission to clients, one effective strategy is to offer testimonials and reviews from previous clients.

Offer options and flexibility

Consider alternative commission structures or fee options that meet the client’s needs. For example, you can offer a lower commission rate if the property sells quickly or the client agrees to use your services for future transactions. This helps you build trust and rapport with the client and increases the likelihood of a successful transaction.

Navigate objections

Objections are expected during negotiation; navigating them is important. When faced with objections, take the time to understand and address the client’s concerns. Navigating objections effectively can build trust and rapport with clients, leading to successful transactions.

Reach a mutually beneficial agreement

The goal of the negotiation process is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that meets the needs of both you and the client. You can reach a fair and reasonable agreement by listening to the client’s concerns, presenting your value proposition, offering options and flexibility, and navigating objections.

Discuss potential bonuses or incentives

Finally, discussing potential bonuses or incentives that can add value to the transaction is essential. This could include offering a bonus if the property sells quickly or the client agrees to use your services for future transactions.

Finalize the agreement

Finalizing the agreement for real estate commission rates is crucial in the negotiation process.

Put the agreement in writing

Putting the agreement in writing is essential to ensuring that both parties are clear on the terms and conditions of the contract. This can help avoid misunderstandings or disputes down the line. Include details such as the commission rate, the services to be provided, the transaction timeline, and any perks or incentives discussed during negotiations when putting the agreement in writing.

Review the agreement with the client

Before finalizing it, review it with the client to ensure they understand the terms and conditions. During the review process, take the time to explain any legal terms or jargon and ensure that the client is comfortable with the terms of the agreement.

Ensure both parties sign the agreement

Once the agreement has been reviewed and finalized, ensure that both parties sign the contract. This can help guarantee that the deal is legally binding and can be enforced if necessary. Ensure both parties have a copy of the agreement, and keep a copy for your records.

Discuss the potential consequences of breaking the agreement

This could include penalties or legal action if either party fails to uphold their end of the agreement. By discussing the potential consequences of breaking the agreement in advance, you can ensure that both parties are motivated to uphold their obligations.

After the negotiation

After successfully negotiating real estate commission rates, it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with the client and provide excellent service. Following through on the agreement is critical to maintaining the confidence and rapport built throughout the negotiating process. This means delivering on the services promised in the agreement and upholding your end of the deal. Ensure that you adhere to the timeline outlined in the contract and keep the client updated throughout the process. This can help avoid any misunderstandings or disputes down the line.

Also, continue providing excellent service to the client to build a positive relationship and establish yourself as a trusted partner in their real estate transactions. This means providing personalized attention and support throughout the transaction, including answering any questions or concerns the client may have. After the transaction, follow up with the client to maintain the connection and show that you respect their business. This could include sending a thank-you note, checking in to see how they enjoy their new property, or offering your services for future transactions.


Negotiating real estate commission rates requires careful preparation and strategic navigation. Suppose you want to know how to negotiate a real estate commission. In that case, you must understand the commission structure, know your value proposition, understand your client’s motivation and expectations, prepare for the negotiation, navigate the negotiation process, finalize the agreement, and follow up with the client after the transaction. You can negotiate commission rates that are fair and reasonable while also meeting the needs of your clients. Remember to research the competition, listen to your client’s concerns, and present your value proposition effectively. You can develop a favorable reputation and position yourself as a valued partner in their real estate transactions by following these steps and offering exceptional service.


Yes, real estate fees and commissions are negotiable. Real estate agents can negotiate commission rates with their clients based on their experience, expertise, and services. Agents must approach negotiations transparently and professionally to build trust with their clients and establish a fair and reasonable commission rate.

To improve your real estate negotiation skills, seek mentors, research the market, practice active listening, be prepared, and consider professional training.

In a short sale, the lender typically pays the realtor’s commissions. However, the specific terms of the commission payment may be subject to negotiation between the realtor and their client. In some cases, the realtor may agree to a lower commission rate in exchange for a quicker sale, while in other cases, the lender may require the realtor to accept a lower commission as a condition of the sale. The terms of the commission payment should be clearly outlined in the short sale agreement between the lender and the homeowner.

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