Real Estate Commissions: Why I Paid My Broker 6%

Last Updated Apr 8, 2011 4:03 PM EDT

I'm not one to voluntarily pay more than I have to for anything. But that's exactly what I did when I recently put my home up for sale. Despite a trend of homeowners giving their real estate agents a commission of just 5% (or less), I chose a broker who insisted on getting paid the traditional 6%.

For the record, I struggled with my decision. My husband insisted that we pay no more than 5% since no one we knew was paying 6%. But I argued that we needed to sell quickly and that it was in our best interest to do everything in our power to make our home as attractive as possible to both brokers and buyers.

Was I right? I decided to ask Deanna Kory, a top selling broker for The Corcoran Group for her take. It turns out she agreed with me and came up with a few reasons why she thinks we made the right decision.

Getting What You Paid For
1. Your broker may work harder for you. While this is difficult to prove, Kory argues that the agent who is earning a higher fee on your sale has an incentive to put in some extra effort toward selling your property.

2. A buyer's broker also has more of an incentive to show your property, argues Kory. Why? Agents typically split the commission the seller pays. So at 6%, the buyer's broker stands to earn 3%. And since an average real estate profession sells just a handful of properties a year, it's in that person's best interest to make as much on each sale as possible, says Kory.

3. The seller's broker who asks for 6% may get you more for your home, says Kory. The logic here is that if your agent caves on his own fee, chances are he won't be a tough negotiator when it comes to fighting for your home's price. Again, this statement can't be proved, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

There's no question that Kory's take is self serving. Surely, she wants to make as much as possible on each property she moves. And just to be clear, I didn't hire her to sell my home. All I do know, however, is that I managed to get a signed contract on my home within two weeks. There are probably many things that contributed to my success, including that I staged my apartment. And perhaps luck was on my side too. Still, all I can say is that I don't regret my decision to pay a 6% fee.

Would you agree to pay 6% to sell your home?

Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Front Door image is courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.0.
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Home for Sale: 9 Ways to 'Stage' Your Home
  • Stacey Bradford

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