Home > Blogs > California > Alameda County > A seller once asked me â€œWhy are REALTORS paid so much?”

Pacita Dimacali's Blog

By Pacita Dimacali | Agent in Alameda, CA

A seller once asked me “Why are REALTORS paid so much?”

A seller once asked me “Why are REALTORS paid so much?”

So many of us have answered the question about what we do to earn our commission -- which by the way, doesn't all go to ONE realtor. Rather, that commission is split 4 ways among the brokerages and their selling and buying agents. We explain over and over again, but the answers don’t stick.

Back in 2009, I asked/blogged: Does the Seller know what a Realtor does for him?

This is a good time to revisit that.

Professional knowledge

Just like all other professionals; lawyers, CPA's, electricians and plumbers, we are paid and selected for our knowledge and experience.

We can strategically negotiate to bring our clients more from the sale of their home.

And because of the expertise we've developed over time, we can save clients thousands of dollars in potential repairs and legal fees (as a result of appropriately advising our clients about disclosures and pre-inspections).

Case in point: In our area, testing sewer lateral is mandated when a property is listed for sale. And if it fails, it needs to be repaired/replaced within a certain period of time. If it isn’t done by close of escrow, the escrow officer is required to get and hold in reserve a certain amount that will be disbursed once the sewer lateral is completed.


It’s amazing how many out-of-town agents and buyers don’t know this. See this lament on Trulia about Sewer Lateral inspection we did not know in Oakland.

How much is it worth to avoid a potential lawsuit?

And in this era of SHORT SALES, that knowledge and experience go a long way!

We, realtors, don't just provide transportation and open doors. I can only speak for myself, but this is a sampling of the service I provide for my Sellers....

Before meeting the Client

  • I prepare a comparative market analysis and put together a marketing presentation (not a cookie-cutter presentation. There's a lot of thought, research and effort in this presentation.
  • REALTORS will know that putting together a comparative market analysis is not just about looking at what sold, are active or pending. One has to determine other factors to qualify specific properties to be in the comps.

During the meeting
Because of the mountain of paperwork involved, it is critically important to review and explain the various documents and disclosures requiring the Seller's signature. This is also when we discuss a calendar of action items on what the seller and I should do to prepare the property for sale

Action Items.  These are the various activities I undertake:


  • Services
    • Scheduling inspections (home inspections, pest inspections, etc)
    • Helping and guiding sellers on staging their house.
    • If they don't have the right stuff, or don't have enough, I augment the staging by using a few of my things. Or, I will recommend a professional stager to consult with the client.
    • Providing resources for sellers, and letting in the service personnel in the house (e.g. Wood floor refinishers, painters, plumbers, electricians, housecleaners, landscapers, inspectors)


  • Marketing Materials Preparation
    • Hire a professional photographer who will also create a property-specific website
    • Select photos, write descriptions and feature highlights
    • Write and lay out flyers
    • Advertise on line -- personalize listings on MLS, Trulia, Zillow, Craigslist, Vflyer, etc
    • Advertise in print (newspapers, postcards, flyers)
    • Collect and organize disclosures about the property, copies of inspections if available,  permit history, etc. and email them to interested parties. I’ve gone green -- I don’t print disclosures anymore.


  • Marketing Activities
    • Hold brokers' tours (during which I serve refreshments to entice more agents to come see the property)
    • Hold open houses as needed
    • Show the property to prospective buyers who call to make appointment


  • Online and target marketing to reach the biggest audience: THE WORLD!
    • Upload the listing on the MLS.
    • Showcase the listing on REALTOR.com by customizing the descriptions instead of relying on the limited verbiage pulled from the MLS. This is critically important since this serves as the primary source of information that other realty websites pick up.
    • Create electronic flyers using Vflyers
    • Customize/personalize uploads on Zillow, ActiveRain, Trulia
    • Post regularly on Craigslist
    • Upload and create website information about the property --- especially if the photographer’s service includes property-specific website
    • Upload disclosures online.


  • Follow up with agents and prospective buyers who saw the property -- I send notes, email, and make phone calls
  • Update my sellers frequently on the activity on their house. I do this by sending them copies of the reports on REALTOR.com and Trulia on how many times the listing was viewed.
  • Maintain ongoing dialogue with my Seller on the market, and if we should make some adjustments

Offer Negotiation

  • Negotiate offers--- my first question to the other agent is if the offer is the BEST and HIGHEST offer from the buyer. That may give them pause, and then they ask me to counter rather than reject the offer.
  • If there is more than one offer, prepare an Excel spreadsheet comparing the terms and the estimated seller proceeds
  • Present offers to seller. Sometimes, we go back and forth, and may even have more than one counteroffer.
  • Call  the buyer's lender and the buyer's agent to get a more complete sense of the financial wherewithal and motivation of the prospective buyers to close escrow
  • During the escrow period, there is continuing negotiation that may involve request for repairs, credits for closing costs, etc.
  • Coordinate with the buyer's agent the inspections and appraisal appointments

Transaction and Paperwork Coordination

  • When we go into contract, I remain the point of contact among all parties including the escrow officer
  • Work with a transaction coordinator to make sure our paperwork is in order, especially disclosures
  • Through it all, it's follow up, follow up, follow up!

These action items can take hours, days, weeks.  And in the case of short sales, MONTHS!


Out of pocket expenses

Remember, that I pay for all the advertising and marketing expenses. Some of these expenses may include but are not limited to: membership in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), REALTOR.com,  Trulia, Zillow, Active Rain; professional photography; website and visual tour hosting; print advertising such as newspaper advertising, color flyers and postcards; signage; staging consultation, etc.

If the property doesn't sell, I am not reimbursed for any of my out-of-pocket expenses

Putting things into perspective from another point of view: 

How much is your time worth?
Can you afford not to get paid for service you provide?


By Allan Erps,  Fri Feb 1 2013, 07:24
Wonderful article Pacita & thank you for sharing!!
By Barbara Grandolfo,  Fri Feb 1 2013, 16:01
Hi Pacita,

You're right! This one was worth repeating!


Barbara Grandolfo
By John Juarez,  Fri Feb 1 2013, 21:16

Great information! It is often painfully clear that much of the general public and many home buyers and sellers have very little idea of what a Realtor really does for a living.

I especially like your blog title since my wife is always asking me why I am paid so little.

Copyright © 2014 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer