Kevin S. McCullough, Broker  (McCullough & Associates Realty, Inc.)

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Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

How do we know what's in their listing agreement? 🔮

But to your question, if you need a certain fee to make it worth doing a deal on that property with that client, you can always ask your client in your buyer's brokerage agreement to make you whole in the event the co broke goes below your fee.

The sellers brokerage fee and the co broke are agreed between the seller and the seller's broker. Most MLSs only require that they give us something. We've seen a $1 co broke.

I don't worry about such things.

Nov 24, 2021 03:22 AM
Karen Climer
Demetree School of Real Estate - Orlando, FL
Teaching people to pass the real estate exam

If the MLS says you are getting 2% and you are happy with that, why does that change when you find out that the listing agent is getting 4%?  You were happy with 2% when you saw it on the MLS.

Nov 24, 2021 05:34 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

If buyer agents need a certain percentage in order to make their business work, that needs to be negotiated with the buyer up front and included as part of the buyer-broker agreement. Many sellers/agents do not split the commission evenly. And regardless of whether that might be seen as "fair" or not, it's common.


Now if what you're saying by"we know their listing agreement isn't gonna match up with that" is that the split paid out at closing is different than the split agreed upon between the seller and seller's agent, that would certainly be an issue. And in that case, options would be to raise the issue (along with copies of the listing agreement and closing docs) to the attorney or title company depending upon what state you're in and see what the next steps are. Although I'm not sure how you'd have a copy of the listing agreement.

Nov 24, 2021 04:56 AM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

If you don't like the co-op fee that the listing agency is offering... you can go out and get some listings of your own, and offer whatever co-op fees you'd like. 


But in the meantime, you brought your buyers to this listing... it was offering 2% when you showed it, and you chose to show it, and now that's the co-op fee you're stuck with.  Be happy that your buyer found a property they like and suck it up.

(and you have NO idea what's written in their listing agreement!)

Nov 24, 2021 05:21 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

1) You have no idea what the total commission agreement is.

2) What does it matter if the LA makes more than you?  It'll swing around eventually.

3) There is no law, rule, NAR code or even common courtesy to evenly split the commission.

4) If the listing agreement doesn't match up to the commissions paid, that's something the seller would know and need to address.  You're not a party to that agreement and that would be out of your scope.

Nov 24, 2021 09:01 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

What the listing agent and the seller negotiate is between them.   If your buyer agency says to pay a certain amount, your buyer can make up the difference.   

Nov 24, 2021 05:18 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Hmm, I have never really thought about that and I am not sure there are options but there should be.

Nov 24, 2021 04:25 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Candice A. Donofrio is well known for telling it like it is!

Nov 24, 2021 04:07 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Many excellent responses, especially from Candice A. Donofrio and Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA 

@Kevin McCullough: as a broker you should be well aware that the listing commission is not always split equally and there is no assumption of a certain seller commission as the math in your question implies.

Nov 24, 2021 10:40 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Agent Retired

I am going to agree with Alan May . It doesn't matter what the listing says between the seller & their agent. In our board, we write out exactly what we are going to pay the buyers side so the seller has an idea if it is split 50/50 or not. I have always done it that way but who knows if a seller wants to pay their agent more?

You have to suck it up in this instance or have the buyer compensate you. Hope you have an agreement with them.

Nov 24, 2021 07:16 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate Brokered by Real - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Everything was decided between seller and listing agent prior to the listing going live. You have an opportunity to get more money from the buyer in the BB Agreement if you wish to pursue. 

Nov 24, 2021 06:40 AM
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Every business model is different. There may be many reasons for an uneven split. 

Nov 24, 2021 06:31 AM
Annette Lawrence , Palm Harbor, FL 727-420-4041
ReMax Realtec Group - Palm Harbor, FL
Making FLORIDA Real Estate EZ

1. At some point we may all be in the environment where every agent is paid by their client. PERIOD. None of the  "I'll help you buy a house FREE of charge."

2. However, the compensation to the buyers agents is PUBLISHED. That is the fee you AGREED to work for.

3, It seems you think the other agent is being paid too much or feel the compensation must be equal.

Until #1 becomes a reality, it is incumbent upon you to educate your BUYER redarding your minimum compensation. They may agree to pay the deficit or instruct you to skip all listed property for which they must pay you. Or you can contact the listing agent and say, "Not gonna show for less the 5%!" Take it from there.

There were BROKERS in my area who listed property in the MLS with the published buyer compensation of ONE WHOLE DOLLAR. That is a trap to avoid.
My suggestion is to have "the talk' with your buyers to let them understand in the sea of smiley faces that looks like the real estate agent pond, there are some bottom feeders.

Nov 24, 2021 05:46 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

How do you know the listing agreement doesn't match up? In NC our listing agreements state the split of the total commission and that is what is offered to the selling agent in MLS. There's no rule that a commission be split 50/50.

Nov 24, 2021 11:17 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty Evolution - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

I don't ever know what the listing agent is getting paid. In your scenario, that agent could be doing a 4% commission and splitting 50/50

Nov 24, 2021 10:02 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Commissions are listed on the seller and buyer estimated closing statements. My escrow officer carefully goes over the estimated statements with my clients. I am always in attendance at the sign-off. As an independent broker, I submit the commission demands directly to the escrow officer.  The seller knows what they signed in the listing agreement.  If anything were called into question the seller would verify the commissions paid with the escrow officer. 

Nov 24, 2021 08:29 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

what the listing agreement is you don't know and don't have any right to know.  You get the co-op in the MLS, need more, have a buyer's brokerage agreement that gets you more.

Nov 24, 2021 08:07 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

You need to have a buyers agency agreement that specifies what you will be paid, then your buyer can write into the offer that the seller will pay you your required percentage.  If the seller refuses then the buyer will need to come up with the remaining amount.

Nov 24, 2021 07:22 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

MLS Rules are usually- Once you make the appointment to show a property , you have accepted the published Offer of Cooperation

Nov 24, 2021 06:22 AM
Peter Mohylsky
PMI. Destin - Miramar Beach, FL

Learn from this going forward. Ask the question early on and ask for an equal split.

Nov 24, 2021 05:20 AM
Greg Large
ERA Real Solutions - Grove City, OH
A Tradition of Trust

I was stumped on the knowing their listing agreement isn't gonna match up part.  Isn't the compensation noted in the MLS listing?  If you show it without negotiating something different beforehand, that's what you get AND if the listing agent is getting paid 4% that is between agent and seller, not you.

Nov 24, 2021 08:09 AM
PeterMark SEO
PeterMarkSEO - Holiday, FL
Real Estate Technology, SEO Web Development

I am probably wrong but it sounds like the listing agent is trying to give the incentive back to themselves via where listing agent is also selling agent. No agent has an incentive to show the home perhaps.  Maybe the market has few inventory and lots of buyers. 

Nov 24, 2021 07:50 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

There isn't much you can do because proof would probably come after the transaction closes and proof is difficult and of course the listing agent could back date a listing agreement and put on some false signatures.  

THe new NAR MLS rules now require the buyer's agent commission be published on all public facing listing displays.  This may curb that incident, as the seller may now see what the listing agent entered as a cooperating commission, and if the seller is knowledgeable as to how the industry works, knowing paying a buyer's agent a reasonable commission (a buyer is as good as a listing) is worthwhile.

Nov 24, 2021 07:19 AM
Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate
Kelly Right Real Estate - Hood River, OR
Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs

One option is to get out of the traditional legacy compensation system. The co-broke, commission paid at closing is long overdue for change. Find an alternative that works for you and implement it, rather than complaining about a listing agent not paying enough. The "only get paid at closing" compensation model is high risk to the broker/agent. High risk means high reward to the broker/agent and a high cost to your clients. If you change the risk/reward calculus you can get paid for your time, knowledge, and expertise, while saving your clients money. They love it. High risk to the broker/agent means little to no risk for the seller/buyer. If they have some skin in the game, your compensation can be ensured, while they save money. Think about real estate consulting, hourly fees for services, etc...

Nov 24, 2021 07:11 AM
Buzz Mackintosh
Mackintosh REALTORS - Frederick, MD
“Experience, reliable, leadership”

Spell our the terms of your fee in your Buyer agent agreement As far as the listing agent goes, your reputation is everything in this business and if someone operates in the manner you described they probably won't be around very long.

Nov 25, 2021 05:22 AM
Kevin S. McCullough
McCullough & Associates Realty, Inc. - Trinity, FL

Many of you have provided great answers and I am glad to have come to the group with what I would call a good question because it's clear that it's crossed many agents minds. Yes, it's King to be the Listing agent...but that doesn't mean that when working with Buyers on deals that you should just get a lower percentage.  The law or rule states that you have a listing agreement signed by a seller that dictates on one line that we will charge a certain amount to them and then on another line we state what we will be paying a buyers agent (which is often times my reasoning as to why I can't charge them less) and when the amounts later don't honestly add up....well I would call that an ethic issue but we don't seem to have a way to call anyone on it so the game runs rampant and this my friends is really what I am wanting to dig into with the question.  

Nov 24, 2021 08:17 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

I never see the other agents' agreements, whether they be buyers or sellers. My client has agreed to pay me - if the seller doesn't pay what my buyer agreed to pay me, the buyer can make up the difference.

I don't fret over what I am being paid by the seller if I'm representing the buyer. I'm just grateful that my clients won the bidding war so they can buy their dream home!

Nov 24, 2021 06:09 PM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

No options other than asking your buyer to pay the additional 1% which should be addressed in a buyer broker agreement. I doubt if any listing agaent is going to share their listing agreement. Many times the LA charges more because the seller wants lots of expensive advertising.

Nov 24, 2021 03:49 PM
Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

WOW!  Assuming something is very dangerous and it isn't only a coincidence that the first part of the word is ASS.   How would you ever be party to the Listing Agreement between the listing brokerage and the seller?   Please explain.  If you feel you are worthy of a higher commission, make it happen for yourself.  Charge your Buyer or earn some listings of your own. 

Nov 24, 2021 02:22 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I have told buyer agents bring me something extraordinary and I will pay more for it. If not, I can get offers all day and pay commissions as listed. Giving and getting what you pay for holds....

Nov 24, 2021 07:41 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Agreed wholly with Candice A. Donofrio 👆😁👍

Nov 25, 2021 02:37 AM
Tony Lewis
Summit Real Estate Group - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Group Valencia & Aliso Viejo

Show or don't show the home.

Nov 24, 2021 07:13 PM
Steve Higgins
RE/MAX Kelowna - Kelowna, BC

It is written in our contracts what percentage each agent will make. If the seller is a repeat client of mine and I decide to cut my commission it is written up as such. Our commission is 7% - 3.5% to listing agent and 3.5% buyers agent depending on if I am cutting my commission my % will be lower than buyers agent. We also have to give our clients whether it is a seller or buyer a form indicating our remuneration. Everyone knows the total commission being paid.

Nov 24, 2021 05:01 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Follow the rules of your MLS. 

Nov 24, 2021 06:56 AM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

It's the contract with your buyers that can make YOU whole. In a Buyer Agency agreement you can specify your return, e.g. 3%, with the buyers liable fot the difference if the listing brokerage only offers 2%, for example. Make sure you explain the concept to your buyers up front.

Nov 27, 2021 11:57 AM
Sharon Altier, SFR
Lawton Realty Group, Inc. - Elmhurst, IL
Your Real Estate Partner

If you are referring to the closing table, then the attorneys will sort that out.  If you have been informed of your compensation, then you know what you will get.  Don't worry about the LA and their compensation; it's really not your business.  If they listing agreement doesn't match up, the attorneys will have to sort that out with Seller at closing.  You should be  covered with your agreed upon commission, if you have that in writing.  Good luck!

Nov 26, 2021 09:55 PM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Inventory has always been King. In small rural markets, 85% of the sales are list what you sell and no splits, no drama. You do the A to Z and the layers of players is missing. Alan May is right. Take on the listing co op or don't . Accept the compensation if everything pans out to get front row seats at the pass the keys / slide the check successful real estate closing.

Nov 25, 2021 06:50 AM