Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

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Malinois000
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Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Malinois000 » Thu May 03, 2018 6:45 am

My wife and I have sold and relocated several times during the past year under my employer's relocation program so I have never worried about the Real Estate commissions. We are planning to retire soon and will be marketing our current home. The home value is around $1.3 million.

My question is: how much flexibility have the boglehead community experienced in the real estate commissions to market your homes? Are you all agreeing to the standard 6% or expecting some flexibility in their commissions as agents compete to market your home?

Thanks for any input.

JRod_Lando
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by JRod_Lando » Thu May 03, 2018 6:58 am

Greetings, I just went through this process in CA. I was able to negotiate down to a 4.75% with an agent. I had used him previously, not sure if that makes a difference. I basically told him that I can either list with you or with Redfin, what kind of discount are you willing to give me on listing fees? Not sure if that helps or not, but if you make people compete for your business you should be able to get a discount.
JRod

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mattyfu1
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by mattyfu1 » Thu May 03, 2018 7:08 am

Great question - I am dealing with this on Long Island NY right now. I find most agents will not move their % if they have to split with another agent.

However, if an agent has both the buyer and seller as a client, they will drop a point (maybe).

There are other factors as well. Has the house been shown? Was the agency or agent asked to put a ton of sweat equity into getting the deal done? If deal is done very fast with no real calories burn, than I understand asking for some savings.

Overall I have found on LI NY many agents puff up their chests when asked to lower rates to get a deal done, however in other states the practice is more common.

-Mattfu

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jfn111
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by jfn111 » Thu May 03, 2018 7:08 am

Everything is negotiable. Here in MN our Brokerage requires that we offer 2.7% to the Buyers Rep. At 4.7% the listing agent would get 2% for their side. In a strong market, where you don't have to spend thousands on advertising, most agents would find that acceptable.
In a market where the listing agent is paying for staging, photo's (including drone or helicopter), magazine advertising, Brokers Open's with food and wine they might hold out for a higher amount.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu May 03, 2018 7:41 am

You want to avoid shooting yourself in the foot. When an agent has a client who is looking for a house, and you're below standard % commission, they're going to show every available house with standard commission before yours. I've been on a house hunting trip where an agent would not take "no" for an answer to look at condos when we expressly told him we were not interested in condos. Why was he so gung ho about the condos? While in his office later, the MLS book (there was paper back then) was open to the condo with a bolded 10% commission listed.

Have you considered selling it "by owner"? Since you're looking at reduced traffic with lower commissions, why not avoid all commissions and do it yourself?
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boglegirl
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by boglegirl » Thu May 03, 2018 8:02 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 7:41 am
You want to avoid shooting yourself in the foot. When an agent has a client who is looking for a house, and you're below standard % commission, they're going to show every available house with standard commission before yours. I've been on a house hunting trip where an agent would not take "no" for an answer to look at condos when we expressly told him we were not interested in condos. Why was he so gung ho about the condos? While in his office later, the MLS book (there was paper back then) was open to the condo with a bolded 10% commission listed.
...
This reminds me of the first house we ever sold - we offered an extra 1% to get lots of attention and traffic. One particularly eager agent showed our house again and again; we found his business card on our counter at least 4 times in the week that the house was shown! (nobody else showed it more than once). I felt bad that another agent brought the buyer. :D

As for the opposite scenario - a low commission - I'm not sure if an agent could avoid showing a house to a buyer, if the buyer has seen it on the internet (and I imagine most buyers do at least some of their own research these days). I guess they could get creative with excuses to avoid it if the buyer asked.

desiderium
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by desiderium » Thu May 03, 2018 8:22 am

The last time we sold a house, we asked our trusted agent for a best offer on commission. He said the buyers' side had to be incentivized with a full commission, but that he would take 2.5% for his side. We considered shopping around for a lower commission but in the end decided it wasn't worth it.

I would identify a handful of agents you may consider working with and send out a request for proposals. Let them know it is a competitive bidding process based on services and price. Ask them to detail their marketing plans and other services, along with rationale for their commission. You may not want the lowest bidder.

grok87
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by grok87 » Thu May 03, 2018 8:37 am

My two cents.

Standard commission these days is 5% split 50/50 between buyer/seller Agents. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

I would try to negotiate seller agent down to 2% but leave the buyer agent at 2.5% or negotiate a fixed dollar fee for seller agent based on like a 2-2.25% rate.

It’s a weird market. Your negotiation may not work. My take is that since it’s hard to negotiate price you want to pick the best most experienced agent you can. While that may sound obvious when we sold our house we had friends and acquaintances come out of the woodwork to say, hey i’m Just starting out as a realtor and would love to sell your house.

Some of them were miffed when we went with a very experienced agent.
Last edited by grok87 on Thu May 03, 2018 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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hershey102d
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by hershey102d » Thu May 03, 2018 8:54 am

grok87 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:37 am
My two cents.

Standard commission these days is 5% split 50/50 between buyer/seller Agents. Don’t let anyone tell you different.


Ditto. First meeting with experienced seller's agent and he offered 5% to get the listing. Kentucky.

staythecourse
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by staythecourse » Thu May 03, 2018 9:14 am

hershey102d wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:54 am
grok87 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:37 am
My two cents.

Standard commission these days is 5% split 50/50 between buyer/seller Agents. Don’t let anyone tell you different.


Ditto. First meeting with experienced seller's agent and he offered 5% to get the listing. Kentucky.
Yes standard is the arrangement above, but no you don't have to accept that. You are the SELLER and are calling the shots. Just find someone who will negotiate. Consider redfin who has excellence service and does give a deduction on the commission. Heck, if you have time sell it yourself on an MLS listing service. It isn't difficult (I did it and sold within 2 weeks).

Good luck.
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Cobra Commander
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Cobra Commander » Thu May 03, 2018 9:15 am

Another option might be to consider a flat fee listing agent that will get it on the MLS. These services offer various packages including photos, lockbox service, etc. at various price points. It also shields you from being bombarded by agents calling you trying to get your listing which will happen if you do FSBO.

I would probably still include a commission for those with buyers agents since I think the majority of buyers still use them these days.

travellight
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by travellight » Thu May 03, 2018 9:23 am

Cobra Commander wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 9:15 am
Another option might be to consider a flat fee listing agent that will get it on the MLS. These services offer various packages including photos, lockbox service, etc. at various price points. It also shields you from being bombarded by agents calling you trying to get your listing which will happen if you do FSBO.

I would probably still include a commission for those with buyers agents since I think the majority of buyers still use them these days.
I think this is a reasonable strategy as well. Pricing it well/right is important. The thing with FSBO is that many owners overvalue their product and don't discount the 5% to 6% they are saving in commission.

ralph124cf
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by ralph124cf » Thu May 03, 2018 9:59 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 7:41 am
You want to avoid shooting yourself in the foot. When an agent has a client who is looking for a house, and you're below standard % commission, they're going to show every available house with standard commission before yours. I've been on a house hunting trip where an agent would not take "no" for an answer to look at condos when we expressly told him we were not interested in condos. Why was he so gung ho about the condos? While in his office later, the MLS book (there was paper back then) was open to the condo with a bolded 10% commission listed.

Have you considered selling it "by owner"? Since you're looking at reduced traffic with lower commissions, why not avoid all commissions and do it yourself?
If you offer an above normal commission, you will certainly get more traffic and probably a faster sale. You may or may not get a better price.

Ralph

adamthesmythe
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu May 03, 2018 10:02 am

On a higher-priced house, in what appears to be a strong market, 5% should be achievable. It was for me recently.

Keep in mind that many (maybe most of the buyers in your market?) will already have a buyer's agent. So 2- 2.5% of the commission is likely not flexible.

Don't forget about all the other costs (transfer taxes, etc.) to keep things in perspective. And watch out for any small extra fees in the seller's contract.

Hikes_With_Dogs
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Hikes_With_Dogs » Thu May 03, 2018 10:06 am

If you're open to it, I think RedFin will list your house for 1%.

Depends on the market in your area if that would be enough to get people in.

In the PacNW market at the moment, I think a realtor will negotiate and pull in enough people through connections and networking to start a larger bidding war that might make up for any commission he or she might charge. Just a thought.

DesertDiva
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by DesertDiva » Thu May 03, 2018 11:04 am

Commission is negotiable. Agents often have tiered commissions they establish for houses in the higher range of their community, e.g., 6% on the first $300K, 5% on the next $300K, 4% after that. This is just an example of how it might work.

Keep in mind that an agent who can't defend his/her commission may not be able to defend your listing price.
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Scrapr
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Scrapr » Thu May 03, 2018 1:18 pm

In would look for 5%. That is what we got when we sold 2 years ago. Our agent did tons of legwork looking out for us. The buyer side did nothing. Both got the same dollar amount. She had <5 years in the business. Our side had close to or more than 30 years. He ate her lunch.

I would look for experience. Our deal almost went sideways near the closing. He was on top of everything. My brother is under contract on his house now. Buyer woke up last Sunday and said nope. Going to back out. No reason given. $6k earnest money. Their agent put the deal back together. Still waiting to see if it will close.

That is what scares me about DIY

grkmec
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by grkmec » Thu May 03, 2018 1:50 pm

My 2 cents....

I find realtors add limited value. The last two investment properties I purchased, I did not use a buyer's broker. If I was selling, I would use a flat fee MLS listing service and offer the buyers agent whatever the norm was or slightly higher (2.5-3.0%). The listing agent rarely sells the property he / she lists so paying someone 2.5% to merely take some photos and list on MLS is highway robbery.

I can't wait until Amazon busts the MLS monopoly and creates an Amazon MLS.

ETadvisor
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by ETadvisor » Thu May 03, 2018 2:09 pm

desiderium wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:22 am
The last time we sold a house, we asked our trusted agent for a best offer on commission. He said the buyers' side had to be incentivized with a full commission, but that he would take 2.5% for his side. We considered shopping around for a lower commission but in the end decided it wasn't worth it.

I would identify a handful of agents you may consider working with and send out a request for proposals. Let them know it is a competitive bidding process based on services and price. Ask them to detail their marketing plans and other services, along with rationale for their commission. You may not want the lowest bidder.
This was my exact experience. I assume for $1m or more house, the selling agent would come down more.

Darth Xanadu
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Darth Xanadu » Thu May 03, 2018 3:04 pm

grkmec wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 1:50 pm
My 2 cents....

I find realtors add limited value. The last two investment properties I purchased, I did not use a buyer's broker. If I was selling, I would use a flat fee MLS listing service and offer the buyers agent whatever the norm was or slightly higher (2.5-3.0%). The listing agent rarely sells the property he / she lists so paying someone 2.5% to merely take some photos and list on MLS is highway robbery.

I can't wait until Amazon busts the MLS monopoly and creates an Amazon MLS.
I don't know much about real estate. If the buyer's broker is paid by the seller, why wouldn't you use one? Wouldn't it be free to you?
"A courageous teacher, failure is."

LFKB
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by LFKB » Thu May 03, 2018 3:15 pm

I walked into a house without an agent for a $4 million house. I told the guy I’d like him to represent both sides of the transaction but for 1% instead of 2.5% and he wouldn’t budge at all. He could have made $40k for a few hours of work but he viewed 1% as beneath him.

I ended up using a friend who was new to RE and got him down to 0.88% commission, he only gave me that because I am a very good friend.

Having said that, if you are selling, you should negotiate with your agent to get their commission down but don’t mess with the commission for the buying agent as you don’t want to decrease incentive for them to bring buyers to you.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Cobra Commander » Thu May 03, 2018 3:17 pm

Darth Xanadu wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:04 pm
grkmec wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 1:50 pm
My 2 cents....

I find realtors add limited value. The last two investment properties I purchased, I did not use a buyer's broker. If I was selling, I would use a flat fee MLS listing service and offer the buyers agent whatever the norm was or slightly higher (2.5-3.0%). The listing agent rarely sells the property he / she lists so paying someone 2.5% to merely take some photos and list on MLS is highway robbery.

I can't wait until Amazon busts the MLS monopoly and creates an Amazon MLS.
I don't know much about real estate. If the buyer's broker is paid by the seller, why wouldn't you use one? Wouldn't it be free to you?
In some states you can have an attorney claim the commission and rebate it back to you. Alternatively, you can use an hourly RE broker and have them rebate the majority of the commission back to you. Finally, you can negotiate directly with either the seller or seller's agent for a price reduction equal to the commission the seller may not have to pay. Some listing agreements provide that the seller's agent keeps the entire commission if a buyer is not represented but I think you could get the seller's agent to waive this provision in the right type of market.

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pointyhairedboss
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by pointyhairedboss » Thu May 03, 2018 3:55 pm

If I were to negotiate commissions with a seller agent, I would be leery of coming up with just one number for the real estate commission. What if, for example, you agreed to a 5% commission and the agent than kept 3% for himself and gave only 2% for the buyer's agent? I would instead aim to come to an agreement on commissions for both the listing agent and the buying agent.
Last edited by pointyhairedboss on Thu May 03, 2018 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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gunn_show
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by gunn_show » Thu May 03, 2018 3:57 pm

ETadvisor wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 2:09 pm
This was my exact experience. I assume for $1m or more house, the selling agent would come down more.
Going through this now, similar price range as OP, and this is as a seller and a buyer (1031 exchange situation, both homes >$1M).

In CA, especially the hot markets like SoCal and SFBA, it is very very common that homes >$1M drop to 5% total fee. Anyone claiming otherwise is bogus and move on to another RE agent.

In our case, because we have a double-ended (or triple-ended) opportunity (broker can rep selling our home + rep buying new home), he is offering 3 pts on selling my house if he double-ends that listing (reps us AND finds the buyer in pocket listing type deal), or 4 pts standard deal (he reps our sale but buyer is from another buying agent). He is guaranteed his higher split from the house we want to buy, thus willing to drop his rates on selling our place. Win-win for both.

Thus we are dropping to 4% in the worst case, but that is largely because of the double-ended exchange situation. Like anything else in life, negotiate the best you can.
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pointyhairedboss
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by pointyhairedboss » Thu May 03, 2018 4:01 pm

Do also ensure that the commission is the sole way you compensate your agent for their service. They might add admin fees to the final tally to make up for the lower commission you negotiated.

http://blog.franklyrealty.com/2007/02/395.html

LSLover
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by LSLover » Thu May 03, 2018 4:28 pm

FWIW, in my area of the country it is pretty common to split 50/50 with your agent his commission when buying.

maggabelle
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by maggabelle » Thu May 03, 2018 4:35 pm

Where I am in the midwest buyer's agents get standard of 3-3.5%. It is unusual to see 2.5% for the buyer's agent. But homes here are around $260k median.

grkmec
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by grkmec » Thu May 03, 2018 4:57 pm

Cobra Commander wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:17 pm
Darth Xanadu wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:04 pm
grkmec wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 1:50 pm
My 2 cents....

I find realtors add limited value. The last two investment properties I purchased, I did not use a buyer's broker. If I was selling, I would use a flat fee MLS listing service and offer the buyers agent whatever the norm was or slightly higher (2.5-3.0%). The listing agent rarely sells the property he / she lists so paying someone 2.5% to merely take some photos and list on MLS is highway robbery.

I can't wait until Amazon busts the MLS monopoly and creates an Amazon MLS.
I don't know much about real estate. If the buyer's broker is paid by the seller, why wouldn't you use one? Wouldn't it be free to you?
In some states you can have an attorney claim the commission and rebate it back to you. Alternatively, you can use an hourly RE broker and have them rebate the majority of the commission back to you. Finally, you can negotiate directly with either the seller or seller's agent for a price reduction equal to the commission the seller may not have to pay. Some listing agreements provide that the seller's agent keeps the entire commission if a buyer is not represented but I think you could get the seller's agent to waive this provision in the right type of market.
One more reason. Let's say the property has multiples bids on it that are similar. If I don't have my own buying broker, going directly to the selling broker gives me an additional advantage for the selling broker to discount the total commission to the seller to create an inventive for the selling broker to make money on both sides of the transaction. Thus I am in a superior negotiating position vs. another potential buyer that is using his own buying broker.

maggabelle
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by maggabelle » Thu May 03, 2018 5:53 pm

grkmec wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 4:57 pm
Cobra Commander wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:17 pm
Darth Xanadu wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 3:04 pm
grkmec wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 1:50 pm
My 2 cents....

I find realtors add limited value. The last two investment properties I purchased, I did not use a buyer's broker. If I was selling, I would use a flat fee MLS listing service and offer the buyers agent whatever the norm was or slightly higher (2.5-3.0%). The listing agent rarely sells the property he / she lists so paying someone 2.5% to merely take some photos and list on MLS is highway robbery.

I can't wait until Amazon busts the MLS monopoly and creates an Amazon MLS.
I don't know much about real estate. If the buyer's broker is paid by the seller, why wouldn't you use one? Wouldn't it be free to you?
In some states you can have an attorney claim the commission and rebate it back to you. Alternatively, you can use an hourly RE broker and have them rebate the majority of the commission back to you. Finally, you can negotiate directly with either the seller or seller's agent for a price reduction equal to the commission the seller may not have to pay. Some listing agreements provide that the seller's agent keeps the entire commission if a buyer is not represented but I think you could get the seller's agent to waive this provision in the right type of market.
One more reason. Let's say the property has multiples bids on it that are similar. If I don't have my own buying broker, going directly to the selling broker gives me an additional advantage for the selling broker to discount the total commission to the seller to create an inventive for the selling broker to make money on both sides of the transaction. Thus I am in a superior negotiating position vs. another potential buyer that is using his own buying broker.
The seller already has a signed contract with the listing agent for a certain percentage total commission. I believe it would be considered unethical for the listing agent to re-negotiate with the seller for a lower total commission if they select a certain buyer. The agent could lose their license over something like that.

Malinois000
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by Malinois000 » Thu May 03, 2018 6:37 pm

Great feedback all. Thanks so much for all the advice!

susze
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by susze » Thu May 03, 2018 6:43 pm

mattyfu1 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 7:08 am
Great question - I am dealing with this on Long Island NY right now. I find most agents will not move their % if they have to split with another agent.

However, if an agent has both the buyer and seller as a client, they will drop a point (maybe).

There are other factors as well. Has the house been shown? Was the agency or agent asked to put a ton of sweat equity into getting the deal done? If deal is done very fast with no real calories burn, than I understand asking for some savings.

Overall I have found on LI NY many agents puff up their chests when asked to lower rates to get a deal done, however in other states the practice is more common.

-Mattfu
Its softening with zillow, redfin now and opedoor agents will be a dead profession in 10 years time if not on the downhill.

In NY the good thing is that there is so many damn agents you can just say you will go to another one if they won't give you a rebate.

Agents provide very little value for what they get paid, the rate was 6% when homes were 250-500k they haven't inversely adjusted it downward since. The model will be disrupted and broken eventually just not sure when.

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mattyfu1
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Re: Real Estate Commissions - How Negotiable?

Post by mattyfu1 » Mon May 07, 2018 7:33 am

susze wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 6:43 pm
mattyfu1 wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 7:08 am
Great question - I am dealing with this on Long Island NY right now. I find most agents will not move their % if they have to split with another agent.

However, if an agent has both the buyer and seller as a client, they will drop a point (maybe).

There are other factors as well. Has the house been shown? Was the agency or agent asked to put a ton of sweat equity into getting the deal done? If deal is done very fast with no real calories burn, than I understand asking for some savings.

Overall I have found on LI NY many agents puff up their chests when asked to lower rates to get a deal done, however in other states the practice is more common.

-Mattfu
Its softening with zillow, redfin now and opedoor agents will be a dead profession in 10 years time if not on the downhill.

In NY the good thing is that there is so many damn agents you can just say you will go to another one if they won't give you a rebate.

Agents provide very little value for what they get paid, the rate was 6% when homes were 250-500k they haven't inversely adjusted it downward since. The model will be disrupted and broken eventually just not sure when.
I agree with you 100% !

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