Are you earning your commissions?

Real Estate Agent with Southern Wake Realty

It seems that these days, in the Triangle area anyway, most Realtors are offering almost the same listing package, but at varying rates.  I have found that between the major real estate companies in this area like Coldwell Banker, RE/Max, Prudential, Keller Williams, Fonville Morrisey and York Simpson Underwood, the average listing commission is 4-6%, with some being as high as 7-8%.  While I don't have a problem with the variation, and concede that in fact it is good for competition, I do have a problem with the level of service that will sometimes accompany these rates. The discrepancy is making consumers wary of hiring full service REALTORS in general. Many homeowners feel that their agent isn't doing enough to earn the commission that they are paying them. 

I work for a small real estate company that is largely home based. We don't pay a lot in fees, compared to the big companies, and we don't have mandatory floor time. We offer the same level of service, and often times a higher level of service, yet find that we have to discount our fees because we don't bring the same name recognition as the larger companies.  A full commission listing in my company is generally 5%. For that 5% we offer the MLS listing with 10 photos, a virtual tour, color marketing fliers for the brochure box, direct mail marketing, print advertising in magazines and newspapers, open houses, etc...The agents are all local and knowledgeable about the area. We pride ourselves on top notch service and excellent communication.

Recently I received a personal referral for a listing for which I still had to compete with a RE/Max agent. The RE/Max agent was willing to drop his/her commission to 4% but would not include a virtual tour. I got the listing, after agreeing to do the virtual tour. More importantly, and I found this out after I was hired, the client was impressed with the fact that I had responded to his inquiry on a Sunday evening and continued to communicate with him through email until all of his questions were answered.  He was uneasy at first about hiring a smaller company to sell his home, but in the end realized that the service that he was going to get at the same commission was more than any other company was offering him. 

In addition to the normal listing package, I usually offer my clients another service: home staging. At this point I am not trained or certified by any training company. I do, however, have a knack for getting homes to look their best for showings. For the home mentioned above, I spent about 3 hours with the homeowners getting the home ready. We moved furniture, removed and rearranged accessories, cleaned and decluttered. That home sold to the first people who saw it and we had another person ready to make an offer (sight unseen) if the sale had fallen through. Was it a great house? Absolutely! Was it priced right? Of course! Did the staging and photographs have a lot to do with the exposure that the home received? You betcha! How many REALTORS can honestly say that they have taken that kind of time with a 4% listing? 

This month I listed another house for 4%. This time I wasn't competing, but gave the clients the discount because I was to be their buyer's representative as well. I spent almost 5 hours on this listing to get it ready to show.  Take a look at some of the before (on the left) and after (on the right) photos.



We received 2 offers the first weekend it was on the market. It sold in less than a week for full price!

So my point here, is not to pat myself on the back. I am just suggesting that often times, we as REALTORS might not do everything in our power to earn the commissions that we charge, and would like to encourage others to put forth their best effort every time. It's in our own best interests to do so! It's getting harder and harder to compete with the discount brokers because they are doing many of the things that we are offering, but for much less money.  It's up to us to prove our worth!

If you don't have the time, the know-how or the inclination to help sellers stage their home, hire a professional! If you don't have a good camera, or don't know how to use the one you have, hire someone to take pictures for you! A picture that looks like it was taken on a cell phone isn't going to solicit many showings! It's all about the first impression, so make it a good one!



Ethan Dozeman
Realty Executives Platinum Group - Grand Rapids, MI
Real Estate in Grand Rapids
I think something I learned from your post is that it isn't necessarily the company you are with it is who you are that attracts the buyer or seller.
Apr 09, 2007 03:10 PM
Darrin Goodall
Free State Mortgage, LLC - Raleigh, NC
That kind of customer service doesn't happen often enough.  Curb appeal and a positive setting can sell the house and get the customer what they deserve almost immediately!  Great work.  My wife and I have bought 4 houses and we see realtors that, we're convinced, haven't even seen the inside of the home.  A little pride of ownership can get that house sold asap.
Jul 14, 2007 06:15 PM
Dick & Sandy Beals
Wilmington Real Estate 4U Wilmington, NC - Wilmington, NC

 I agree with what you have said...yet you are a discount broker, just offering service, and or are better prepared to handle the seller objection of commissions.  You might want to think about a menu of services, or consultant fees, you will be far ahead of the game.  More and more companies are discounting their fees to compete, in fact Coldwell Banker does have a 1% program they use in Chicago, and Century 21 has a $495 listing program.  I guess the Redfins and others will soon be changing what we all charge for commissions.  I still feel that some people will want a Mercedes, want to pay a Kia price, and settle for a Chevy.  People will always pay more for good service!

Dick Beals

Jul 15, 2007 12:32 PM
Brian Wray
Wray Realty - Holly Springs, NC

This is a great post.  Thanks for sharing.  I own a small independent in the Raleigh area (Wray Realty) and we do offer a menu of services.  This is a great suggestion from Wilmington.  We have products from $299 up to 4%.  The 4% includes all of the formentioned items, plus we pay for a sellers home inspection and termite inspection to be done before the home is active.  Most sellers take our 3.4% Full service program, which is everything above, but does not include the inspections.  I think the menu of services is the right way to go.  It shows you are looking at the selling process from the clients eyes instead of from a company perspective.  It shows you are open to offering what the sellers wants and that one size does not fit all.  Good post and Happy Selling!!

Jul 25, 2008 01:10 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

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