An innocent question posed in a Facebook group this morning was about the 6% commission debate and why commissions are 6% if it’s a myth. It is a simple question with a simple answer that I can give because I am no longer a Realtor, and I’m absolutely entitled to my opinion whether you like it or not, as are you.
The 6% isn’t really a myth, albeit the average actual paid real estate commission is much lower at around 5%. It is a fact that the commission is negotiable, but what consumers and Realtors have never understood is that from a sales perspective, that 3% per side has become more of a fictitious floor than a ceiling. When you ask a Realtor why, quite honestly, no one really knows, but the default knee-jerk response is, “but commissions are negotiable.”
Sure they are, it’s an absolute fact, but again, from a sales perspective (a lesson for any sales related business, not just real estate) negotiating from the floor is a failed proposition as a business.
Sure, people like to say it’s so easy to list a property because they have an iPad now, and possibly a responsive MLS they can enter data into, but quite frankly (and I know listing agents will mostly agree, or at the least successful ones anyway) the expectations on listing a property have grown exponentially, as well as the expectations on the property agent themselves. The amount of hours it takes to actually hammer a square transaction through the round hole of closing has indeed increased tenfold – this is just a round number factoring shortsales, troublesome financing, or combating a neighborhood marred by failed mortgages and foreclosures.
Technology has made this housing crash more bearable, not easier, so why haven’t real estate commissions increased tenfold? They haven’t, yet there is still this burning need to negotiate from a floor – do you think your home seller respects this? No way, they love easy prey, sucker.
As milk prices have increased, gas prices have exploded, the cost of paper, ink, technology, supplying real estate porn to aggregators, the costs of featuring property within online environments and so many other factors of day to day life and business have risen due to the cost of doing business, yet real estate commissions have remained the same – around 5%?
These costs have to be passed on somewhere, and to be quite blunt, volume listing of property is costly and in high demand – just ask Trulia, Zillow, and Homes.com and others why these portals are not out acquiring their own property listings? Their answer will be that it’s not profitable. And why aren’t consumers uploading their own properties for sale in greater numbers? Because in the end, real estate search sites cannot support the consumer demand side in service of the listing, and that’s a fact. Instead, that’s laid on the backs of the listing agent and broker in their model – another cost of doing business.
So, in summation, I’m not going to tell you what you should be charging as a real estate commission per side, but I do think listing agents that are really in business have to look at the reality of the cost of doing business. Buyers agents say every day that it’s easier because of technology, but that’s not true of the listing side.
It wouldn’t surprise me if in this very year you don’t see listing brokers increase their commissions for their side of the transaction and lower the buyer side offering, and if they are the smart sales professionals I believe them to be, that fictitious floor and cieling could burst upwards to 8 or 9%, and why stop there? In some ways the cieling is regulated, but I’m not sure that’s really been challenged in court. If you’re truly negotiating commissions, shouldn’t you negotiate from a position of strength? It’s just good business.
So I say that each broker needs to do a real analysis of their business models and listen to their consumer – they want to negotiate, and it’s about time listing brokers gave them what they’ve asked for.