Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Who Pays the Commission to the Real Estate Agent? By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on June 30, 2022 Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Lea Uradu, J.D. is graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, a Maryland State Registered Tax Preparer, State Certified Notary Public, Certified VITA Tax Preparer, IRS Annual Filing Season Program Participant, Tax Writer, and Founder of L.A.W. Tax Resolution Services. Lea has worked with hundreds of federal individual and expat tax clients. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Ariana Chávez has over a decade of professional experience in research, editing, and writing. She has spent time working in academia and digital publishing, specifically with content related to U.S. socioeconomic history and personal finance among other topics. She leverages this background as a fact checker for The Balance to ensure that facts cited in articles are accurate and appropriately sourced. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article How Real Estate Commissions Work Who Pays the Real Estate Agent? The Bottom Line Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: The Balance / Chelsea Damraksa Many home buyers and sellers don't understand exactly who pays the real estate agent involved in the transaction. To understand who pays real estate commissions—whether it's sellers or buyers or both—take a look at how real estate agents are paid and how they share cooperating commissions. Key Takeaways A real estate commission is the amount that agents or brokers are paid for the work they do in buying or selling your home.In many cases, the commission is part of the sale price for the buyer, and it can be rolled into mortgage payments.Ultimately, whether you're buying or selling a home, make sure you're clear on your agent's commissions and how they work. How Real Estate Commissions Work A real estate commission is the amount that agents or brokers are paid for the work they do in buying or selling your home. Real estate agents work for a real estate broker. A real estate broker typically has more training than an agent. Brokers can work independently or start a brokerage, while real estate agents are required to work for a broker. All fees paid to a real estate agent must first pass through a broker. Only a real estate broker can pay a real estate commission and sign a listing agreement with a seller. How Brokers Compensate Real Estate Agents Commission divisions vary. New agents can receive less of the total commission received by the brokerage than experienced agents do. Other fees may be deducted from that amount such as advertising, sign rentals, or office expenses. Top-producing agents might receive 100% and pay the broker a desk fee. Everybody else falls somewhere in between. Listing Agent Fees The most common type of listing agreement between a seller and their agent gives the agent's broker the right to exclusively market the home. In return for bringing a buyer to the table, the seller agrees to pay a commission to the broker. Typically, this fee is represented as a percentage of the sales price and is shared between the listing broker and the broker who brings the buyer. Co-Brokerage Splits Divisions of fees among brokers are not always fair or equal. In a buyer's market, sellers might want to consider asking the broker to give a larger percentage to the buyer's broker. In a seller's market, the buyer's broker might receive less, and no set formula exists. Most divisions of commission are locally based. In some parts of the country, it is very common for a listing agent to make more than the buyer's agent. Be sure to ask about the customs in your area. Who Pays the Real Estate Agent? It can be argued that the buyer always pays the commission. Why? Because it's typically part of the sales price. If you are a buyer, you can combine closing costs like commissions into your mortgage. Here are ways commissions are typically structured. The Seller Pays the Buyer's Commission Under a buyer's broker arrangement, the named brokerage and agent represent the buyer. The fee paid to the broker is most commonly paid by the seller. Some buyer broker agreements contain clauses that will compensate the brokerage for the fee it is due less the amount paid by the seller. For example, a cooperating listing might offer to pay a broker a smaller portion of the sales price, but the brokerage charges fees that are a higher percentage. The difference could be paid by the buyer if the broker chooses not to waive the difference. Buyer Pays the Commission Directly The seller is not obligated under most listing agreements to compensate the listing broker for more than the listing side's portion of the commission. Often, sales prices are reduced to reflect the amount the buyer is paying. Note It is considered insulting to call an agent to list your home and immediately ask if the agent will discount their commission. The Bottom Line Agents cannot be solely judged on commissions. For example, top agents often charge more than newer agents. If you are a buyer, you do not directly pay the commission, so a discount would not affect you. There are a few agencies who offer to pay buyers to lure their business, but that's unusual. In some cases, agents are seeing a reduction in the amount of commission paid to buyer's agents. The commission is often not split 50/50 between listing and selling agents, and many listing agents make more than the buyer's agents. Ultimately, whether you're buying or selling a home, make sure you're clear on your agent's commissions and how they work. In most cases, the seller pays the commissions out of the home's sales price, but that can vary. It's best to ask if you're uncertain. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is a fair commission for a real estate agent? Commissions vary by market conditions and geographic regions, so there isn't a lot of government data on the issue. The government's last thorough report on commission rates (back in 2009) shows an average broker commission of 5% or 6%, but each brokerage will decide how much of that to share with agents. The government keeps better data on overall real estate agent pay, and in 2021, the median real estate sales agent salary was roughly $62,010. Who sets real estate commission rates? All of the parties involved can negotiate real estate commission rates. If a commission is too low for a broker, or too high for the homebuyer/homeowner, then the parties won't work together. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Association of Realtors. "How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make? Commissions, Explained." U.S. Department of Justice. "Competition in Real Estate: Questions and Answers." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents: Pay."