Are Commissions Negotiable?

In some areas of the country there is a certain percentage that real estate agents expect to earn as a commission. This commission amount is a certain percent of the sales price. Or, some companies will charge a set fee for their services. However, just like anything else in real estate, this amount is negotiable. When completing the listing agreement, you and your agent will agree on the amount of the real estate commission.

Your listing contract specifies a listing price. Your agent’s job is to bring a "ready, willing and able" buyer to present an offer. If you reach agreement with the buyer, then the agent has done his job and earned the commission. Once the sale has closed, the real estate broker gets paid from the proceeds of the sale.

If the buyer proves unable or unwilling to conclude the sale, the house is placed back on the market and the agent has to begin earning his or her commission all over again.

However, if the seller backs out or does not accept an offer that meets the price and terms of the listing agreement, the listing broker has still earned the commission. They may want to be paid, even though you did not actually sell your home. Therefore, it is very important to carefully consider every detail when completing your listing contract and accepting an offer to buy your property.

Agency Duties of a Listing Agent

The listing contract will specify that your agent is acting as a "seller’s agent." This means that, in the sale of your house, they are working for you and only you. However, there may be times when your listing agent has a client who wants to buy your home. For that reason, there is a little "wiggle room" in the listing contract. If your agent also represents the buyer, the listing contract should specify that they provide an additional disclosure that details their duties as a dual agent.

The contract also provides permission for your listing agent to act as an agent for others on other transactions. They can continue to list other properties, and represent buyers looking at other homes

When is Listing Commission Earned?

Your agent’s job is to bring a "ready, willing and able" buyer to present an offer. If you reach agreement with the buyer, then the agent has done his job and has earned the commission when the sale has closed at which time the real estate broker gets paid from the proceeds of the sale.

If the buyer proves unable or unwilling to conclude the sale, the house is placed back on the market and the agent has to begin earning his or her commission all over again.

Resolution of Disputes

There are times when you and your agent have a disagreement that you cannot resolve by yourselves. Maybe the agent did a poor job or misrepresented something. Maybe your agent was really doing the job correctly, but you did not understand. Perhaps the agent will have a dispute with you.  First, if your agent is not the office broker, you should contact the broker with your concerns, as he or she will be the one you will be dealing with for resolution, or in arbitration if that was chosen in the listing agreement.

The listing contract specifies what methods will be used to settle such disputes. You can choose to accept binding arbitration, which is usually cheaper than hiring a lawyer and going to court. Usually, matters that can be dealt with in a small claims court are excluded from having to go to binding arbitration.

You are not required to sign or initial the binding arbitration clause.  This would leave you free to hire an attorney and pursue disputes in civil court instead of binding arbitration. However, you can still agree to arbitrate. Consult your attorney for advise on this legal matter.


Donna States
Donna States
Broker Associate
No Address Provided Torrance CA 90505