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    Real estate is a complex industry that requires dedication, expertise, and a deep understanding of buying and selling. For those who make a career in real estate, the rewards can be significant. However, one of the most critical factors that determine a real estate agents earnings is the commission structure.

    REALTORS® this is for you

    While it’s true that homes can sell for considerable sums of money, REALTORS® don’t necessarily make a healthy commission on a property’s final sale. Typically, real estate agents split the commission from their sales between the broker, the seller’s agent, and the buyer’s agent.

    Understanding how commissions are calculated and distributed can help you make informed decisions about your career and financial goals.

    This article will explore the commission structure in real estate in detail. We’ll cover the typical commission percentages, factors affecting commission rates, and how commissions are split between agents and brokers. We’ll also discuss the payment process and explain the differences between payment for buyers’ agents and sellers’ agents.

    Current commission rates for REALTORS®

    Research shows that the average commission rate for real estate agents in the United States is around 5.57% of the final sale price. However, the actual commission rate can range from 2.5% to 10%, depending on the location and market conditions. Some areas may have lower commission rates due to higher competition or lower property prices.

    The type of property being sold can also influence the commission rate. For example, luxury properties may have higher commission rates due to the additional marketing and negotiation efforts required to sell them. Conversely, properties in less desirable areas or with a lower sale price may have lower commission rates.

    However, commission rates are negotiable, and the rate you charge can depend on your experience and expertise, service level, and the competition in your area. Some REALTORS® specialize in specific types of properties or market segments and may be able to command higher commission rates due to their specialized knowledge and expertise.

    Understanding the structure

    When representing a seller in a transaction, the commission is typically split between the listing agent (you), the buyer’s agent, and the brokerages they work for.

    Let’s take an example of how the commission is split:

    Let’s say you successfully negotiate a deal to sell a property for $300,000. As part of the agreement, it was established that the commission for the sale would be 5% of the selling price, which comes out to $15,000.

    In a case where the listing broker represents the seller and the buyer’s broker represents the buyer, the commission will be divided equally between them at a 50/50 split. So, out of the total commission of $15,000, the listing broker would pay $7,500 to the buyer’s broker and retain the other $7,500.

    The $7,500 commission retained by the listing broker after the 50/50 split with the buyer’s broker is typically divided between the broker and their agent. Assuming the agreement is a 50% split, each gets an equal portion of $7,500 — which amounts to $3,750. 

    It’s important to note that the commission rates and splits can vary depending on the region, brokerage policies, and individual negotiations. Additionally, there may be variations in the commission structure in certain situations, such as dual agency, where one agent represents both the buyer and the seller.

    Understanding the commission structure is crucial as it directly impacts your income. Effective communication with your clients and cooperating agents is vital to ensure transparency and smooth transactions.

    Remember, as an independent contractor, you are responsible for covering your business expenses, such as marketing, transportation, and other overhead costs. These expenses should be factored into your budget and considered when setting your commission rates.

    How REALTORS® can increase their commission

    As a realtor, there are a few ways you can increase your commission and earn more. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

    1. Negotiate higher commission rates. One of the most straightforward ways to increase your commission is to negotiate higher commission rates with your clients. While the commission rate is typically a percentage of the final sale price, you can negotiate higher rates based on the level of service you provide or your experience in the industry.
    1. Increase sales volume. Another way to increase your commission is to increase your sales volume. By closing more deals, you’ll earn more money in commission fees. Consider developing a strong marketing strategy to generate more leads and invest in developing relationships with clients and other professionals in the industry.
    2. Specialize in a niche market. Consider specializing in a niche market, such as luxury properties or commercial real estate. By focusing on a specific market segment, you can build a reputation as an expert in that area and command higher commission rates.
    3. Provide exceptional service. Providing exceptional service to your clients can help you stand out from other REALTORS® and build a loyal client base. Satisfied clients are likelier to refer you to others, leading to more business and higher earnings.
    4. Develop additional income streams. Consider developing additional income streams, such as offering property management services or referral fees for referring clients to other real estate professionals.
    5. Build a strong online presence. A solid online presence can help you attract more clients and generate leads. Develop a strong social media presence, create a professional website, and leverage online advertising to promote your services. This can help you establish yourself as a credible and trustworthy realtor, leading to more business and higher commission rates.
    6. Upsell additional services. Consider upselling additional services to your clients, such as (virtual) staging, professional photography, or home improvement services. These additional services can help you add value to the transaction and earn more on commission fees. Upselling additional services can help you differentiate yourself from other REALTORS® and increase your earnings.

    Ideally, increasing your commission rate is more than just raising your fees. It’s also about providing more value to your clients and developing your skills and expertise in the industry. 

    When and how does the realtor collect?

    Typically, the commission is collected at a sale’s closing, where the funds are disbursed through the escrow process. This is one of the best ways to pay contractors; however, the actual disbursement varies from one brokerage to another. 

    The commission is paid to the real estate brokerage first and then distributed to the realtor according to the agreed-upon commission split. The exact timing of receiving the commission can vary depending on the brokerage, and deductions or taxes may apply before receiving the payment.

    It’s crucial to have clear communication and agreements with your brokerage regarding commission payments and to be aware of the process and timeline for collection. Understanding when and how to expect to collect your commission will help you effectively manage your finances and plan for future earnings, allowing you to focus on growing your real estate business.


    It’s clear that the real estate industry is lucrative, but the commission structure can be complex. Commission rates can vary depending on location, property type, and negotiation skills. You can increase your earnings and make your real estate career successful by following some of the tips we have shared above. It’s also important to clearly understand when and how commissions are collected and any deductions or taxes that may apply. Another great way to increase your earnings is to partner with an Embrace Loan Officer who will work with your customers to help them navigate their financial hurdles.

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