By Mark Mathis, VP of Sales for Homes.com
In today's economy, everyone is trying to pinch pennies. In real estate, one way sellers attempt to do this is by asking their agents to lower their commission rates. While many agents flat out refuse to do so, others have become more flexible or are unsure of what to do. In fact, over 80 percent of homes are not paying today's standard 6 percent commission.
Since the rates have already dropped from 10 percent, agents are reluctant to renegotiate lower than the 6 percent commission average, and with good reason. There is often a great deal of work happening that sellers are unaware of. If your client asks you to lower your commission and you're caught off guard about how to answer, here are a few tips to help you avoid any uncomfortable situations and keep the listing.
1. Show Your Experience
The majority of the time, when sellers are looking to avoid paying an agent's commission, they'll try to sell their home on their own. Remind sellers that by listing with an agent, they receive expert advice and experience to make sure they get the best results from their home sale. While other agents may have a lower rate, they're likely trying to break into the market and may not be as qualified or knowledgeable as you. Let them know that, thanks to your experience, you're able to evaluate a buyer's ability to afford the property and negotiate in the seller's best interest. Your job is to bring in buyers who are the best fit for the property.
In addition to this, because you're a full-time agent, you can more easily close a deal. Share your recent accomplishments with clients who question your commission rate to remind them of why they hired you. For example, you could tell them how many homes you sold in the past month. You could also show them a comparable home you just sold to give them an idea of everything you do.
2. Remind Them What You Offer
Some clients may be unaware about why you have a commission fee and may believe it's more like a tip. Let them know that they're paying for all of the work you do behind the scenes, such as advertising the listing, creating social media buzz, conducting pricing research, compiling the best pictures, etc. If they don't seem to be getting the message, you can say something like, "I would love to work with you, but in order to do so, I need to cover my expenses. With your home, I can do so at X percent."
You can also show them statistics that prove agents get better prices, so the commission they pay is worth it in the end. Agents know how to competitively price a home to pique the interest of buyers. Not only this, but as an experienced real estate professional, you have the ability to put a listing in front of multiple buyers' agents whose job it is to find homes for their clients. Without you, sellers are left trying to piece together the right information from the internet, which likely will not be as accurate.
3. Tell Them It's Not Up to You
If you're working within a brokerage, it's very likely that you don't have the option or the authority to negotiate your commission rate. Especially if you're new to the area or to real estate in general, let your client know that you'll discuss it with your broker and get back to them. Then, take it up with your team.
Another option is to let sellers know that, if you lower your rate, the buyer's agent could be forced to lower theirs, as well. As a result, it's likely that fewer agents will want to show the property. If fewer people see the home, it's very possible that they won't receive the offers they're hoping for. Sometimes clients don't realize that you're not the only one affected by lowering your commission rate.
4. When There's a Little Wiggle Room
While most agents will avoid reducing their commission rates, there may be some times that a lower rate is actually more beneficial. If the home is a luxury property or higher-priced, agents are often more willing to take a smaller commission to make a big sale. In addition to this, if the buyer and seller are very close to an agreement and lowering your commission could seal the deal, it may be worth it to reduce your rate. Finally, if an agent makes a mistake on the listing or during the negotiations, it could be worth reducing the rate to try to keep the transaction positive.
Some agents may feel more comfortable reducing their rate, but that doesn't have to be the norm. Tackling commission concerns can be a difficult thing. If you are an agent who has questions or concerns, share them with your fellow agents in the Secrets of Top Selling Agents Facebook Group.
Mark Mathis is vice president of Sales for Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.