There are many flat-fee services that offer minimal service, but will put you on the MLS for as little as ZERO dollars, on up... Some limited-service agencies will charge a minimal commission (maybe 1-2%) but have you do most of the work. Some agencies will rebate a portion of the buyer's-side commission to you, and offer limited services, and then there are full-service agencies, whose services run the gamut, and so do their commissions.
I had a client who told me that the standard commission in Chicago (yes, she meant the entire city of Chicago) was 5%, because she had spoken with a half dozen agents, and that's what they'd told her. I personally know full-service agents who charge 4.5%, and I know agents who routinely get 8%... both sets of agents have regular repeat business, so their clients must be happy.
There are lots of business models available for real estate agents/agencies... you just have to decide how much of the work you're willing to do yourself, in order to save some money.
Commissions are always negotiable. In today's market we often use the commission structure to set a house apart from the thundering heard.
Ask you local agent(s) how they use the commission structure and make sure they put it in writing once you have agreed to something.
JD â€œDanâ€ Weisenburger, GRI
Vanguard Realty, Inc. GMAC Real Estate