Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Commissions Based on Asking Price... Good Idea??

Commissions Based on Asking Price... Good Idea??

I had a listing appointment on Saturday, and I got asked a question that I had never been asked before.  I thought it was an odd question, but the seller was very serious as he has bought his last two houses without a Realtor's help, and has never had to sell a house, so this is his first experience with using a Realtor and with selling.

He asked if the commissions were based on asking price.  I looked at him, probably with a startled look on my face, and said no.  I then said, you may be on to something there.  I think commissions should be based on asking price and then I could list each house for $1M, and have the sellers also sign price reductions the same day.  Talk about motivation to sell that house and not let it expire!!

On another side of it, I was thinking this was a good idea because if the sellers had to pay commissions based on their original asking price, they would be less willing to over price their houses.  Doesn't that sound grand??  Less people over pricing, more people being realistic, and we'll get this inventory down much quicker than the houses sitting on the market.

What do you think?                                                 

Comment balloon 53 commentsDonna Harris • August 14 2007 05:00PM


Sounds good to me, let's start a new revolt on AR. :)
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 13 years ago
There is a company, quite large in the southeast, that is recommending, can't force of course, thier agents to select certain commissions based on price. Mainly so they can be profitable...
Posted by Birmingham Alabama Real Estate, Stephen Wolfe ( about 13 years ago
Donna, I like your idea -- not what I expected when I clicked on this post!  I have seen commissions before where it is a variable commission depending upon the price of the sale (i.e. sells at list price - 1 commission, at above asking price -- a different, higher commission, and below asking price -- lower commission).
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) about 13 years ago

Missy, I'm there with ya!! 

Stephen, I'm not sure I understand what you mean?  Like the lower the price range, the higher the commission percent?  Can you clarify?

Brian, Why would someone take less commission when selling at a lower price?  I've seen commissions based on time on the market, but not based on what you've described.  Sells in first 30 days, this amount.  Seller in 60 days, this amount...

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago

Hi Donna,

This is someting we have actually told Sellers on listing appointments.  If they price it at "X", the commission will be "Y" and so on so that they can see the impact the pricing will have on the success of their home selling.  We absolutely agree with this and I do believe we have to start thinking more creatively now in the uncertain market we're in. 

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) about 13 years ago

Donna- I think that is an interesting idea/post. And the comments have made me think too. Brian's commetns and your response to him are ideas that I haven't seen in my marketplace. Hmmm.

Posted by Debi Braulik, Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale ( about 13 years ago


You made me laugh so hard!  I love the idea!!!

Posted by Jeannette Morrison, Central Texas Real Estate, NW Austin, Round Rock (Cedar Park,Leander,Georgetown & Lake Travis Areas.) about 13 years ago
What a novel idea!!  I'm so tired of sellers not listening to what I tell them the comparisons came up with; their house is worth so much more because of ...........  That might work!!!
Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) about 13 years ago
Its all about convincing sellers of the benefit of a certain strategy.  These sellers seem apply it to others and report back to us!
Posted by Kaushik Sirkar (Call Realty, Inc.) about 13 years ago
Donna, I've never actually participated in such a transaction, and do think it odd.  But I guess from the seller's point of view, they're saying "We're making less money and you couldn't sell it at our price, so you should be punished!"  I guess whatever listing agents took such deals weren't very good at negotiating their own commissions.
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) about 13 years ago

Lisa, yeah for you for already implementing something like this.

Debi, Pricing right and selling in 30 days warrants a higher commissions many times, and some, not all, sellers are willing to do it.  I had an 8% listing because of this way of structuring the listing agreement.

Jeannette, I'm glad I could help you burn a few calories this afternoon!

Marchel, Let us know if this works for you!

Kaushik, Thanks.  However, it's too late for this seller because I already said no as the question startled me.  I can't go back on it now...

Brian, you hit the nail on the head... an agent needs to be able to negotiate their own commission before they're able to negotiate the sales price on someone else's take home money!


Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago
Donna,   With the commission being based on the original asking price that might indeed help sellers to price them more realistically.  Certainly would get them to at least think about it. 
Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 13 years ago

I think that is a terrible idea.  the listing agent is going to spend the same money to market the home either way.  the market will of course control what the sales price will be.  what if you do this "plan" and find that your sellers are pigs and the way you saw the house is not the way they keep it when showing start to happen?  now your 8% just went down to 7 then 6 then 5.  i think there are some cons to your concept.  i do like the idea of asking for more if you sell it in the first 30 days. 

"my seller if i sell your house in 30 day i want 8% otherwise i will take 6%."

that could be something nice.

Posted by Marcus Valdez (Berkshire Hathaway Rocky Mountain Realtors) about 13 years ago
Well that would certainly shake the market!  Actually, I've found sellers to be very reasonable these days.  Just listed a property today and the seller was awesome when it came to the pricing.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) about 13 years ago
Commission based on price is not unheard of for the luxury home market. There are companies out there that will charge X% for $1-2 Million, X% for $5 Million-10 Million, etc. Now usually when the home sells, the commission is based on the selling price. But the concept of a commission based on asking price usually stems from different degrees of marketing. Maybe this is what he meant?
Posted by Jennifer Kirby, The Luxury Agent (Kirby Fine Homes) about 13 years ago
Or was the seller's point that a standard percentage may not make sense.  If you get 3% commission on a listing for 100K that is a gross of 3K, but on a 1 Million property that same 3% is 30K.  Was the seller asking why it was a percentage as opposed to something else like a flat fee.
Posted by Brian Papaccio (Wells Fargo Home Loans) about 13 years ago
This is something to think about.  In most sales job the commission is based on the price of the sale.  If I sere paid the same for each sale there would be no incentive to get the bigger numbers.
Posted by Ray Perry, Realtor, CRS, GRI, e-PRO (CENTURY 21 The Neil Company Real Estate) about 13 years ago
There's a cost for paying only if a property sells - the alternative is to pay for advice and time at an hourly rate.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) about 13 years ago

Bill, I'm glad we're on the same wave length there!

Marcus, As with everything, there is a limit.  You would have your bottomline commission that you would accept.  8% for this time, we reduce the commission incrementally as the months tick by, but only to a minimum of this amount.  In my 8% example, my bottom was 5.5% because I was helping them buy a house too which made up for the difference. 

Diane, that's great to hear!

Jennifer, No, he actually thought it was based on asking price because I entered that number on the net sheet.  It took a minute to make sure he understood how the numbers worked.

Brian, no, that's not what the seller was asking, but my husband asks that all the time!  He's like, "Why do you work so hard for only $3k when you could list more houses in this higher price range and be getting $6k?  Or, why isn't there a set fee to sell a house like $2500?"  He just doesn't understand as he's an engineer!

Ray, I agree completely.  I wouldn't work so hard trying to get into the higher market if I wasn't going to get paid more for it.

Sharon, I know a couple of agents that get paid hourly, and they love it.  They feel like it gets rid of the tire kickers.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago

I don't use a flat commission structure but we do it differently than in the USA.

My full service commission is 7% on the 1st $100,000 and 3% on the balance. If they seller wants a reduced commission, I ask them which services they would like to cut. They don't. Our average home price is $350-400K. This works out to about 4% of the sale price.

On a higher priced listing of say $1 million, the overall commission as a percentage of the sale price is lower at 3.6%. A $2 million dollar listing would end up at 3.2%.

Posted by Jeff Shields, REALTOR Qualicum Beach, BC (RE/MAX Anchor Realty) about 13 years ago
I really like the idea of commissions being based on the orginal asking price.  Where do I sign up?
Posted by Dan Forbes about 13 years ago
I really like the idea of commissions being based on the orginal asking price.  Where do I sign up?
Posted by Dan Forbes about 13 years ago
I really like the idea of commissions being based on the orginal asking price.  Where do I sign up?
Posted by Dan Forbes about 13 years ago

As a Listing agent - I think the commission should be the same in all price ranges.  Why would you reduce it for a higher priced property?  The higher priced properties are the ones that are more expensive to sell and take the longest amount of time to sell.  I have heard of agents that will take a listing in the luxury market with an agreement that if the house expires and is not relisted with the same agent or the sellers take the house off the market - the sellers owe the agent for ad expenses, etc.  

Also, if you list a higher priced property at a lower commision and a seller in a different (lower) price range finds out about it - your name would be MUD.  The seller in the lower price range would feel that it was unfair and the lower price ranges are easier and less expensive to sell and sell faster.

Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) about 13 years ago

I must be missing something in this conversation.  If a house is listed at $100K and the commission is 7%, then the gross commission is $7,000.  If that same house sells for $80,000 then the gross commission is $5,600.  But I have spent the same amount of time and money marketing the property.  Why would I reduce my commission every time there is a price reduction?  If a property sells at a lower price I'm already getting less money.

Of course, if the original gross commission was $7,000 and that's what the agent got regardless of sale price...that takes it away from a percentage basis and makes it a flat fee. 

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) about 13 years ago
lol. I wonder what was going through his mind. Was he thinking if it sold for more he'd still only have to pay you based on the list price? That would be my guess since every seller I run into wants me to lower my commission so they can net more at closing. I'm tired of this question and I'm tired of people acting like 6% is too much when they tip waiters 15-20% even when they get lousy service. Hair stylists get more than 6%, just about every industry gets more than 6%! That is something they don't mention on GMA though when they are bashing REALTORS.
Posted by Cheri Smith, Realtor Prudential Gary Greene (Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX) about 13 years ago
Very interesting and amusing too! I wouldn't have the nerve to do it but i like your comment that maybe it would keep their listing prices more reasonable lol.  I put this question right up there with, if it sells in a week do I still have to pay you a commission...I got that once
Posted by Carole Cohen, Realtor, ePRO (Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office) about 13 years ago

I wouldn't try to reinvent the wheel at this point...

Maybe the client thought the commission would be based on how much s/he was netting? What a thought!


Posted by Armando Rodriguez, Orlando Homes 4 Sale, Real Estate Broker-GRI (QUEST REALTY SERVICES) about 13 years ago
Donna- Neat concept but I doubt it would fly. I hear your "overpricing pain" though. I have lost about 5 listings in the last 2-3 months due to other agents doing markets on the same house, and coming in $10-$15k higher than me. The owner gives me the "oh, they think its worth more so we're listing with them." And just as imagined, their homes are still sitting. Some have even gone through a price reduction already. With the current market conditions, If a homeowner wants to list with me at a price I know it won't move, I won't even accept the listing. It's just a way to drain my budget quickly. 
Posted by Matthew Barens (Remax Universal Realty) about 13 years ago
Good idea. We've been using variable rates for some years now, based on performance. When that does kick in... we've turned around and shared it with the other agent. That gets a great surprise and creates a lot of good will. Most of our listings here are $1M plus, I like the idea of a higher professional fee for service the more difficult our job becomes. Anything to incentivize more realistic pricing is always a good thing. 
Posted by Gary Bolen, CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information (McCall Realty) about 13 years ago
  We charge LESS if the house is gone in 30 days- less work, less pay.  After that, an increase to cover additional time and costs.  I do, however, appreciate the laugh- very interesting and creative thought process!
Posted by Laurie Mindnich about 13 years ago
I think these sellers are on to something!  What an industry-transforming idea!
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 13 years ago
Heck of an idea. Reverse psychology at it's finest.
Posted by Doug Lindstrom (eXp Realty) about 13 years ago
I think this is not the best solution. It really depends on the scope of services being provided - not the price.  I think the emphasis on price is not the best indicator of value of the agent.
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 13 years ago
This is a novel idea, and should be explored a bit... Work up some spreadsheets to show what is being done for each part of the brokerage fee. The devil is in the details, or so I've heard...
Posted by Patrick Harfst (Realty Executives - Phoenix AZ) about 13 years ago

I love that idea!  Please choose your list price carefully Mr & Mrs Seller, because what ever you choose, you will pay based on that price, even though you may reduce your price by 25% before it sells!

I'll throw that out to my next listing client and see if it flies (grin!)

Posted by Vicki Lloyd, (619)452-9798, Real Estate San Diego California (The Lloyd Realty Group) about 13 years ago
Interesting concept. Now where do we get people to sign up for this.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) about 13 years ago
Posted by Deborah Ryman, M.A. Feng Shui Services, Santa Cruz County about 13 years ago

Donna - I love this idea!  Here'a another twist on this concept.  There is a bet that you can make at a sports book in Las Vegas called a lighting bet.  I've heard that it's used on basketball games, but I'm not sure if it's done for other sports.  The bet works like this - the sports book sets a point total that they expect both teams to score (let's say 100 points total).  You place your bet on either the total being above the 100 points or below the 100 points. and an amount to bet (let's say $5 per point).  Let's say you pick below 100 points.  For every combined point under 100 the house pays you $5.  For every point above the 100, you pay the house $5.

To translate this into real estate terms let's use this example.  You tell a homeowner that the comps show that their home will support a purchase price of $500,000, but they want to list it at $550,000.  You agree to use their price for the first 30 days (the most exciting time for a new listing).  During this time, if a buyer is willing to pay more than $500,000, you agree to take 1% less out of your own commission.  However, on the 31st day, the price automatically drops to $499,000 and the commission automatically increases to 1% more, and the listing automatically becomes a one-year listing.  In this scenario, the co-broke should be paid out as normal, as this "bet" is between the listing agent and the homeowner.

Homeowners are more than willing to overprice their homes and gamble with our out-of-pocket expenses during the first 30 days of a listing (which we all know is the best time to get an offer).  Would they be willing to do if they had to be right about their home's value?  I wonder?


Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) about 13 years ago
interesting concept, however you must be able to accurately put a price on the time the listing takes to sell.
Posted by JR Sangiuliano (CENTURY 21 JRS Realty) about 13 years ago

So many from overnight that I can't personally respond to all of them... Thank you for all the comments and support.

Adam, I liked your idea.  Very interesting.  I'm going to put some thought into that and see how things could possibly be implemented.  Have you tried it before or were you just thinking out loud based on the Vegas bets?

Carol, I've thought a lot the last couple of weeks about doing flat fees for the $100k listing and below. It makes so much sense and it's hard to run a business making less than $3k a transaction.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago
While that sounds good and probably works on paper.... there will still be many realtors that will discount. Effectively erasing the extra commission.
Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) about 13 years ago
I don't think a fee based on initial asking price will reduce the overpricing. After all if a house was "overpriced" by $10,000, the extra commission will be $600 with seller still pocketing extra $9,400 (of course when asking for that $10,000 increase in the price, seller is going to assume that he/she will get it).
Posted by Neetu Kainthla (BHHS Caliber Realty) about 13 years ago

Tom, you think Dave will go for it??  He'll be ready to list tomorrow!

Neetu, an overpriced listing isn't going to sell at the overpriced amount so there isn't going to be an extra $9400 in the seller's pocket.  This strategy is to prevent overpricing to sell faster and not waste money on marketing a house that can't sell at the higher price.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago

Donna - I had actually never given it a moment's thought until your blog.  You inspired the idea, but it does seem like a way to get people to price it right to start.  Most people think that they're right, but when the time comes to put money on it, I bet you that a lot would back down.  Of course, it is likely to cause people to choose competing agents as well, but at least it would save us money trying to market overpriced homes.

Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) about 13 years ago
HMMM...definately has merit.  I was asked the other day what incentive I had, as a buyers agent, to get the lowest price and I can definately tell them that I enjoy the negotiation process and want my clients to return to me....but unfortunately I do know other agents that only care about it going into escrow....maybe the system should be changed.
Posted by Chris Tesch, College Station, Texas Real Estate (RE/MAX Bryan-College Station) about 13 years ago
Sounds like you're on to something there!  All it takes is for one person to have an idea that catches on, and an entire industry can be revolutionized.  It certainly would take away the perception of a conflict of interest that is perceived when a buyer-agent gets paid more if the buyer pays more for a property.
Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) about 13 years ago
Hmmm you may be onto something here!
Posted by Rebecca Savitski, NC Real Estate Listings (BSR Real Estate Group) about 13 years ago
I think this is a grand idea and would definitely provide motivation for listing it at the right price if our commissions were based on the "asking price" -- I think I'll suggest this to my sellers who are wanting to list their home above market value! 
Posted by Sondra Sheckler Realtor,ABR,SRES,Historic Home Specialst (Coldwell Banker, Award Of Excellence & Million $$ Producer) about 13 years ago
Donna, basing the commission on the List price sounds great.  How about a flat fee based on selling price.  Example: 0 - 100,000 = $1000  Same for buyer's agents.  101000 - 2oo,ooo = $2000.  Same for buyer's agents.   Too Low - then we need to adjust!  LOL!
Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) about 13 years ago
Kay, those numbers are WAYYYYYY TOOOOOOO Low!
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago

It is an interesting idea... And goes both ways.

"if the sellers had to pay commissions based on their original asking price, they would be less willing to over price their houses."

This way seller will be more realistic on the asking price and selling process would go smother... Never mind to wait for higher commission on a property would never sell.

Posted by Arina Hanciulescu, RealtyPros (RealtyPros) about 13 years ago
I agree the price is too low.   So, lets raise the price and charge the buyer too.  Same as the seller.  Wonder how may buyers would fuss about that?
Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) about 13 years ago