Every first-time home seller wonders who is responsible for paying the real estate agent fees in California. If you are thinking about selling your old house in Walnut Creek or downsizing your current one in Tulare and have been asking yourself the same question. You are in very good company. The real estate commissions rates in California are some of the highest in the nation, averaging around six percent for a full-service real estate agent. So these fees can really add up. And, depending on your reason for selling in the first place. The prospect of paying high fees just to get your home sold may not sit well with you—or your pocketbook. It is possible to reduce what you are responsible for. However, and even avoid paying any fees at all. Let us explain.
Understanding California Real Estate Agent Fees
As the home seller, the responsibility for paying real estate agent fees in California will fall on you. You will know how much to expect to pay. Because, at the outset, your listing agent will establish their rate and have you contractually agree to it. They will, or at least they should also describe what the fee actually covers. Among other things, it almost always includes compensation for the buyer’s agent. So, whatever fee you and your agent agree on gets split between both agents at the conclusion of the transaction. That is when your home is sold.
Though it may seem unfair to pay for work performed by a buyer’s agent in addition to your own representative. It is industry practice—and necessary if you want buyers’ agents to have any incentive to show your home to their clients. Without the offer of compensation, buyers’ agents may skip right over your listing and, instead, encourage their clients to make an offer on someone else’s house. Who can blame them? No one likes to work for free. Because buyers’ agents work hard to find homes that fit their clients’ criteria and sometimes have to work even harder to actually win the bid on a house. They don’t like to work for peanuts either. So, half of your agent’s commission, or a minimum of three percent—whichever is greater—is a reasonable price to pay to help get your home sold.
Of course, drawing buyers’ agents and, by extension, their clients to your home takes a little more legwork than just compensating their efforts. It takes prepping the home for viewing, advertising that it’s for sale, fielding incoming calls, holding open houses, and negotiating the final terms. That is why your agent deserves to be compensated fairly too. They take on the responsibility of doing whatever is needed to get your home sold at a good price and within a decent time frame—both of which take money and time. So, a well-paid listing agent can be well worth the fees. If it gets your home sold fast.
Understandably, however, the thought of shelling out funds that deplete. What you may gain from the sale of your home can be painful to contemplate, let alone pay. A six percent California commission rate can add up to almost $20,000 or more. That’s money that you could probably use to help pay for your move or to pay down a few bills. Even a discounted broker or a flat-fee firm that skimps on some services, like marketing. It will cost you some cash and, possibly, a timely sale of your property doesn’t get adequately advertised. And if you need to sell your home quickly, every minute can count as much as every penny.
You could, instead, try negotiating with your real estate agent about their rates. It never hurts to ask and, if you’re willing to give up an essential part of their service, like holding open houses, they may be willing to give up a percentage point. This may be especially true if they have worked with you before, are new to the business, or want to expand their territory. Keep in mind.
However, some brokerage firms set a minimum fee that their agents must collect since they usually take a percentage of what each team member earns. That means that your agent may have less negotiating power than either one of you would like. Plus, is it really worth saving a percent or two in agent fees now if, in the end, you lose more? Without the full-scale services that a fully-compensated real estate agent offers. It’s possible you could lose out on getting the full price for your property.
That is, unless, you opt to forgo paying a real estate commission altogether and try to sell directly to a buyer. This route can also result in getting less for your home. Since the property could, and probably will linger on the market longer. Then again, after all, is said and done. You might end up saving yourself money, time, even risk. Especially if you know where to find a buyer who will give you cash for your home, fast and fee-free.
How to Sell Your Home For Cash Fast and Fee-Free
Based right here in California, Osborne Homes has been buying houses directly from their owners. And paying cash, since 2009. We take homes as-is and can close on them fast—oftentimes in as few as seven days. So that you can move out of your old house and into your new life quickly. And, we don’t charge you any real estate agent fees to do it. There are no high commission rates, no service charges, and no hidden costs of any kind—no kidding. So, if you live in Contra Costa, Tulare, or any of the16 counties in California that we serve, and we buy your house. You can expect cash in hand that is yours to keep.