With Publicly Available Price Data And Listings Online, Why Pay High Real Estate Commission Rates?

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Hi Dave,

When I started the process of selling my house on the front range, I could not find any agent who would reduce his/her commission in order to compete for my listing. They all demanded the same 6%. Now if I went into three different grocery stores, and all their different items were exactly the same price, then wouldn't I be justified in believing that some improper price-fixing was going on?

Instead, I listed my house with a "flat fee broker" for $300 who put it on the MLS. I still had to offer 3% to buyers' agents, but I thought this was fair, since buyers want the help and confidence from a broker who works exclusively for them. Ironically, the eventual buyer found my house on the public MLS listing without assistance from his buyer's agent!

Bottom line is that the transaction went thru flawlessly, I got my listing price, and I saved $7,000 by not needing an expensive commissioned listing agent. Why, with all the publicly available price data and listings on the internet, do we still have to pay these very high real estate commission rates?

Best,

Al, Montrose


Al,

Great question!

I will tackle it the best I can. First off, let me congratulate you on a successful sale on the front range and your relocation to the western slope! I am confident you will find the Montrose area not only beautiful, but also find the people very welcoming. It is a wonderful area. Let’s get right to it - not all agents charge the same commission rate. Interesting that you could not find any agents (on the front range) who would reduce their commission to a level you might have found acceptable. I know many who charge variable commission rates, even in my own office. Honestly, it’s just not very hard to find low commission rates if that is what you are looking for. I also find it interesting that you use the word “demanded” instead of “charged” or “requested”.

I don’t hear of many agents that “demand” a fee.  In our neck of the woods, we are all “just applying for a job”.  I do not think making demands while interviewing for a job is a proven path to success, but maybe that’s the way they do it over there. I will assume that most agents have a going rate of commission that they charge, and I will also assume that their rate is independently determined on their own, as is the way it is done at our office. My experience in commission variability certainly does not make a case for any type of price fixing, as you insinuate. It does not matter what product there is to be sold, there will always be less expensive options for those who rank price as their top determining factor! But price is not the be all end all for everyone…. at least not yet. 

“There are many reasons to use an agent and there are many ways that agents can help you make more money.”

There are people who value quality of service, negotiating expertise and transactional experience to help ensure smooth sailing through the process even when the process (and personalities) get difficult. There are many things that come into play that are often forgotten or overlooked when comparing agents or whether to use an agent or go it alone. I think it’s great that you are happy with your outcome, but is it possible that you could you have received an even higher price for your home and made even more money, by using an agent that provided accurate pricing and expert marketing? With proper marketing could that agent have created a competitive environment where multiple buyers potentially bid for your home, thus driving the price higher and making you even more money?  Could you have received a higher price by using your agent’s expertise in staging and getting your home dialed in to sell and therefore maximizing your home’s value? Could you have made more money by having an agent that not only helped you negotiate through the inspection process, but had access to vendors who could have saved you money with any required repairs? Could an agent have helped you sell faster, thus making you more money by reducing your carry costs by selling quicker (mortgage payments, utilities, etc.)? These are just a few of the questions that often time get ignored by those looking to make a case for not using a real estate agent to help them sell their home. As you can see, there are many reasons to use an agent and there are many ways that agents can help you make more money.

As for my experience of being a consumer (just like you), I tend to appreciate the difference in quality of services rendered and these things, many times, outweigh cost (for me) when deciding to purchase or not. It’s clear from your experience that nobody is forced to pay “very high real estate commission rates.”  Everybody has a choice to hire an agent or not. Clearly people sell their home on their own every day, but many like the confidence of knowing they are in experienced hands navigating what often time proves to be a treacherous process. I see agents make their home sellers money every single day and I know great agents offer great value.

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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