Let’s talk about commissions. Realtor to Realtor. We do it everyday with potential customers. Reporters can ask us how much we charge and then print our answers for other agents to read. You can call any real estate office and simply ask them or just look on their website (if they are willing to put their fees there as most discount companies are – and I am, as well). Would it be okay if you read how much another agent or company charges but not okay if you heard them physically say it?
A few years ago when I was speaking at Sell-A-Bration, in front of a few hundred people – which I will be again in a few days – I mentioned commissions and several people started openly protesting that I could not keep talking about it or they would have to leave the room. I patiently explained that I was not breaking any law, violating the spirit of any law or doing anything wrong. In fact, I was doing something very right: I was helping fellow agents to see that they didn’t need to "match commissions" with the limited service companies (the we-do-nothing-for-less-crowd), that there were services they provided and skills that every single person in the room possessed that factually mattered; that the running dog press had "their story" prior to "researching the article" and that ingesting a steady diet of poison would make anybody sick.
A few morons continued to loudly bray that if I did not stop talking about commissions they would leave the room. Fortunately for me the main entrance to that room was to my immediate left and was a very large opening. So it was quite easy for me to gesture towards that doorway so someone that unobservant wouldn’t have any difficulty finding their way out. Two or three people got up and left. Several of the CRS instructors in the audience had also tried to explain that there was nothing I was saying (including how much my fees were) that violated any law.
What is against the law (as it should be) is PRICE FIXING. Agreeing to all "charge a certain price".
Is it possible that someone honestly believes that I could make an announcement via a blog post (or speaking to an audience of a few hundred people) and "fix commission amounts"? "I charge ‘X’ amount because Russell Shaw told me to"; "Once the order from Russell arrived, we couldn’t charge any less"; "All of us now charge this amount, it’s the way Russell wants it now". Really? If I was truly that powerful I wouldn’t waste my power on something that stupid. And if I was going "fix commissions", I would have everyone in the country charging a lot more than me so I could get all of the business without having to try very hard.
Truth is, I am not in competition with any agents outside of my area (yes, yes, I know we really need a national MLS so all companies and agents will be free to prove they have no real knowledge or value) and I go way out of my way to help and train the agents who are here. Customers aren’t scarce. Regardless of what is currently happening (this day, this month, this year) I will continue to survive. I am not afraid of any competitor, in fact, I can now see that it is because of them I have arrived at my level of competence. Their ability to win what I wanted forced me to get better.
It does not matter to me what you charge. Charge the amount that seems right to you (based on your area, your price range, your competition, market conditions and your ability to effectively communicate your level of value. If you feel you must charge less because of the internet, the existence of discount companies, articles in the media, "ethical explanations" from other agents who are hell-bent on having less (for themselves and everyone else), or any other important reason to work on reduced prosperity for yourself and your fellows – I understand that nothing I am going to say or write is going to change your mind. This is strictly for those who haven’t already gone too far down the rabbit hole.