Negotiating Realtor Fees: 10 Tips for Reducing Commission

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By Jamie Ayers Updated June 18, 2023


Negotiating tips and tricks | How much you can save | Find average commissions in your state

What's the average realtor commission?

The current average realtor commission is 5.37%, with 2.72% going to the listing real estate agent (for sellers) and 2.65% going to the buyer’s agent. These rates vary by property location and market conditions, but they generally fall between 5% and 6% total.

Who pays realtor fees?

Sellers are typically responsible for paying realtor fees at closing.

Both the listing and buyer’s agent’s commission fees are generally baked into the final home sale price.

Listing agents have an incentive to split their commission with buyers' agents, who are responsible for attracting qualified local buyers and helping to close sales.

Are realtor fees negotiable?

Technically, realtor fees are negotiable — regardless of what a real estate agent or broker might tell you. However, it's not always possible to convince an agent to lower their fee.

Your ability to negotiate will likely depend on the price and condition of your property, the local market, inventory and demand in your area, and your agent’s relationship with their brokerage.

One of the best ways to save on realtor fees is by working with a company that negotiates lower commission rates with realtors on your behalf.

For example, Semya-Moya will match you with experienced realtors from brands like Keller Williams or RE/MAX, but you'll pay just 1.5% in listing fees (about half the usual rate) when you sell.

💰 Get a 1.5% listing fee — no negotiating required!

Want to negotiate lower realtor fees without the awkward conversation? Let Clever negotiate a 1.5% listing fee for you!

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How to negotiate real estate commission

Negotiating can be tough, so we've compiled 10 tips that will make the process feel less stressful. Before we get into specifics, remember that you should approach negotiating realtor commission with a prospective agent in a respectful and considerate manner.

You’re relying on your real estate agent to guide you through a complex, high-stakes, and stressful process. Don’t get things started off on a sour note!

🤝 Always aim for a mutually beneficial outcome.

The purpose of negotiating isn't to "win." It’s to find the most mutually beneficial terms for both parties involved. Instead of asking only for concessions, consider how you'll add value to the partnership as well.

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Jump to a negotiating tip

  1. Evaluate your negotiating leverage
  2. Find your area's average commission rate
  3. Shop around for the best value
  4. Make your house easier to sell
  5. Create value for the agent
  6. Offer a full buyer’s agent fee
  7. Work with an up-and-comer
  8. Sell and buy with the same agent
  9. Let your agent represent you and the buyer
  10. Be prepared to walk away

1. Determine how much negotiating leverage you have

Compared to the past few years, the 2023 housing market has cooled significantly. With interest rates higher than they've been in many years, buyers are reluctant to take out new home loans, while sellers are reluctant to let go of their low rates.

With fewer buyers and sellers out there, realtors are competing for a much smaller pool of potential clients — and they may be more willing to negotiate commissions.

Several factors can affect your quoted rate and how much leverage you may have to negotiate a lower one. In particular, pay close attention to:

Your home’s value

The higher your home’s price, the easier it will be to negotiate a lower rate. Luxury homes typically pay lower rates regardless, no negotiating required. A small slice of a $650,000 pie could be a lot bigger than a large slice of a $180,000 pie — but both may take the same amount of time and effort to sell.

Your home’s desirability factor

If you have a highly marketable home, an agent may be more motivated to lower their rate to secure your listing. Conversely, if your home seems like it’ll be hard to sell — it’s in disrepair or in a bad location, it has an eccentric layout, etc. — the agent assumes more risk and may be less willing to budge on price.

You local real estate market

If you’re in a hot market, and properties in any condition are selling within a couple days, agents may be more open to a lower rate. After all, time is money — the faster your home will sell, the less time and effort the agent will have to invest.

The sale season

In the off-season or in low-inventory real estate markets, new listings are hard to come by. Agents might be willing to lower their rates to secure new business because they need work and are in lower demand.

2. Know the average commission rate in your area

Real estate commissions can vary by state, city, and neighborhood. Knowing what’s typical for the area your property's in will give you a good baseline for your negotiations, ensuring both parties keep requests reasonable.

» MORE: Find the average commission rate in your state

3. Shop around for the best possible value

There are many real estate agents and brokerages to choose from, and every one is different.

Some are inflexible on price, whereas others are open to tailoring fees and service structures to suit your specific needs.

Others — specifically discount brokers and agent matching services — offer built-in commission savings, no negotiations required (though there may be service-quality trade-offs).

Do your homework to find the right agent or service for you. We recommend interviewing at least two to three options to find the best fit — in terms of price point and customer service.

💰 Sell with a top agent, save thousands!

Want to find a top local agent without overpaying on realtor fees? Clever negotiates 1.5% listing fees with top-rated realtors from name-brand conventional brokerages like Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and Berkshire Hathaway.

Get guaranteed full service for half the rate these agents typically charge. Schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a top local agent today!

4. Offer to invest in things that make your house easier to sell

Agree to make recommended pre-listing repairs and improvements, such as repainting, landscaping, and cleaning the carpets.

If you’re willing to put up some cash to make your agent’s job easier, they may be willing to lower their rate in return.

If you want to take it a step further, you can pay for a pre-listing inspection. This will help surface any issues that could prolong or derail negotiations.

5. Consider how you can create value for the agent

Selling a house is complicated. Real estate agents not only have to invest a considerable amount of their personal time into the home-selling process — but also typically cover a number of up-front costs, such as professional photos and marketing expenses.

When negotiating rates, look for ways that you can help reduce those up-front costs or bring some kind of value for the agent to sweeten the deal.

Maybe you don’t care about open houses or 3D tours, or you have a friend who’s a professional photographer who can take care of the images for the listing.

Keep in mind that the agent is looking to sell your home fast and for the best possible price. If you try to net savings by forgoing important services that may make it harder for them to succeed, they might have second thoughts about working with you at all.

6. Offer a full buyer’s agent fee

Offering a competitive buyer’s agent fee is key when it comes to getting homes sold fast and for the best possible price.

📢 Don't skimp on buyer's agent commission!

Approximately 90% of buyers work with an agent. When you don’t offer a competitive buyer’s agent commission, buyer's agents will deprioritize showing your home — if not steer their clients away from it entirely (even though that’s technically illegal, it still happens).

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Unless you or your agent have a buyer lined up coming into the sale, offering a low buyer’s agent commission will significantly reduce your prospective buyer pool and make it harder to sell your home.

It'll also reduce your agent's likelihood to lower their rate, since they would be assuming more risk by taking on a listing that may take longer to sell — or fail to sell altogether.

7. Consider working with an up-and-comer

Newer agents may be willing to drop their rates — assuming their broker allows it — to boost their sales numbers and reputations.

Top agents with lots of experience know their worth — and are typically in high demand. This makes them less likely to be flexible on price than a hungry up-and-comer looking to establish themselves.

8. Offer to sell and buy with the same agent

As a one-time customer, you represent a single paycheck opportunity for an agent, which gives you limited negotiating power.

But when you agree to sell and buy with an agent, you’re now doubling that paycheck opportunity. The agent is earning more money without having to invest additional resources into picking up that second transaction.

As a result, the agent may be willing to lower their rate to secure both deals. They’d earn a lower commission on the home sale but more money overall, since they’d collect a fee on both transactions.

9. Let your agent represent you (the seller) and the buyer

When a single agent represents both parties in a real estate transaction — known as dual agency — it’s common for them to lower the total commission rate since they’re collecting both sides of the fee.

Dual agency typically occurs when you find your own buyer or when an unrepresented buyer approaches the agent or their brokerage about your listing directly.

Dual agency lowers the overall cost of the transaction and thus can benefit all parties. However, it also poses some significant risks and conflicts of interest for both the buyer and seller. For this reason, dual agency is illegal in eight U.S. states.

» LEARN: Everything you need to know about dual agency

10. Be prepared to walk away

The goal of any negotiation is to reach a mutually agreeable outcome that benefits all parties involved — but you also should be willing to walk away if the other party is unwilling or unable to give you what you need for the deal to make sense.

That said, before you draw a line in the sand and declare something is a deal breaker, make sure you’re actually ready to walk the walk. If you’re bluffing and the other party calls it, chances are they’ll feel like they can push even harder — and your chances of getting an outcome you feel good about significantly lower.

Challenges to negotiating a lower commission

Realtor fees are theoretically negotiable. But in practice, not all agents can lower their rate.

Many brokerages dictate commission structures, particularly for newer agents. So an individual agent may not be able to lower their rate, even if they want to.

Some other common challenges that sellers run up against when trying to negotiate lower commissions include:

  • Property’s final sale price: If you're selling a home valued below $500,000, a lower commission may be harder to negotiate. Your agent may be investing just as much time and effort to sell your property as they might with a higher-dollar home, but their commission will net them less at closing.

  • Local market: In a slow real estate market, your home may take longer to sell. An agent investing significant time to sell your home may be less willing to work for a lower commission.

  • How easy (or difficult) it is to sell your home: A property that needs a lot of work may also remain on the market for a while. The longer your home takes to sell, the more effort your agent is investing.

You may not be able to convince a realtor to lower their rate. That's where a free service like Semya-Moya can help. It's free to use, and the company's size gives it a lot more negotiating power than an individual home seller.

Clever pre-negotiates a low 1.5% listing fee with top local agents from companies like Century 21 and RE/MAX. In exchange, agents receive a steady stream of new business at no up-front cost.

💰 Compare low commission agents and save thousands

Try our free, no-obligation agent matching service! Clever will get you proposals from the top agents in your area. Compare options, choose the best fit, save thousands with a pre-negotiated 1.5% listing fee.

How much can I save by negotiating realtor commission?

Most agents are used to having conversations about compensation and will be open to negotiating rates.

In fact, a Zillow study found that approximately 31% of home sellers attempt to negotiate terms with their listing agents — and about 57% are successful.[1]

The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive as more agents compete for fewer listings.

Additionally, discount services like Clever and Redfin, with built-in low rates, are continuing to gain market share and reshape consumer expectations about what a realtor’s services should cost. Clever, for example, offers a 1.5% listing fee.

As a result, many agents and brokers are becoming increasingly flexible on pricing and service structures — particularly when looking to attract sellers with desirable properties in high-demand markets.

Even a 0.5% reduction in your realtor's commission can translate into thousands of dollars of savings, so it's worthwhile to try to negotiate. Try our calculator to see how much you could save by paying a lower realtor commission.


What percentage do most realtors charge?

The average real estate commission is between 5–6%, with half going to the seller's agent and half to the buyer's agent. However, real estate commission fees vary by state. Find average commission rates in your state here!

Can you negotiate real estate commission fees?

Yes, realtor commission fees are negotiable. However, your ability to negotiate realtor commission depends on a lot of factors, including where you live and how easy your home will be to sell.

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