Home Buying in Atlanta>Question Details

Bc, Home Buyer in Atlanta, GA

$195 fee within Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreement

Asked by Bc, Atlanta, GA Mon Apr 7, 2008

I have been looking for homes with a realtor (Coldwell Banker) for a couple of weeks now and I just received the exclusive buyer brokerage agreement. Within this agreement there is a $195 fee that I am to pay Coldwell Banker at the time of closing. Is this normal?

Help the community by answering this question:


I have read the response of other realtors in this forum. I just thought I'd add something that was not prevously mentioned.
1. All fees are negoiable. What a buyer should think about is whether the fee being charged is "fair" regardless of whether a practice is common or not.

2. Some brokerages are charging these fees to increase an owner's group profit. The agent who is handling that specific transaction may not even benefit from such a fee. Others are charging this fee for processing paperwork. A local agency begin doing something similiar in my service area. As a result quite a few agents in that office has since left.

In our market center we don't charge such a fee. As agents we actually set rules and policies for our market center. I could not hold my license at place where policies are determined without my consent. I guess that's one big difference with Keller Williams Realty.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 16, 2008
I have represented the buyer & seller on different transactions lately & have come across the question you posed at the closing table. The side not represented by me did pay the amount you mentioned. It is something you need to speak with to the agent & the broker about. It is not regularly done but it is done sometimes. Remember everything in life is negotiable.

John J. Reinhardt
RE/MAX Greater Atlanta
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
I agree with both Judy and Sean - this is not normal and it is not customary to "pass on" any fees to the client. Have a chat with your agent and suggest excluding that part of the buyer brokerage agreement before signing.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
No problem... Just that I hate to see agents selling themselves short. Please see the web link below... you can guess wich one is the 'depenpent' model ;-) and which is the 'inter-dependent' ;-) make sure to mouse over each of the three circles to view the text. Eventually, your referral business and SOI should open those doors for you! Have a nice evening.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
It's normal for some real estate brokerage houses.

It's kinda sorta like that fee you pay to your mechanic called a "shop fee" - it's an overpayment per transaction for rags and hand soap - stuff around the shop. At a BMW dealer recently, one of my clients paid $35 for this fee alone. Whoa...

But that is beside the point. Do you love your Realtor? Is the purchasing experience reamarkable so far?

If so, pay the $195.00 - that's the way that their broker does business.

Either that, or make your agent pay it because they brought this completely minor and insignificant fee up to you so late in the game.

Win / win or no deal, Bc, a home buyer in Atlanta.
Web Reference: http://intowninsider.com/
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 8, 2008
The $195 fee that the agent is asking you to pay is a transaction fee that some real estate firms have. It seems to be common with large national brokerage firms. Is it normal? No, most agents would not ask you to pay this.

The real question is do you want to continue working with this agent? Have they provide you with useful information, shown you homes that works, and do you feel comfortable with them? Is the answer is yes ask the agent to pay the fee or at least split the cost with you. If you are not happy with agent or this has caused you to feel uneasy, it's time to move on and find a new agent to represent you. If you choose to find a new agent, remember to ask them at your first meeting if there are any fees that expect you to pay.

Best of luck in your house hunt!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Hello....it's not normal although I have been told that some realtors are doing this. Some Brokers charge their Agents a "Transaction Fee" on top of agreed upon split and some agents will try to pass this fee on to their clients. It's not something I would be comfortable doing but we could begin to hear about it more and more. Judy
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
It's Mr. Garcia, Torch. But you are confused as I am not the one whom asked the question nor do I have an agent - I am an agent. And one that previously did 'time' with Coldwell Banker Atlanta. Therefore, I know exactly what I am talking about. About the logic or lack of it, to assume a company can charge a 'fee' "just because they can" is quite audacious on their part and even more so on your for defending them and paying it yourself. You are in a 'dependent' mindset and giving way too much credit to a corporate name than the reason why a buyer should choose you, for being a great agent.

It was Bc that never had agency or the Buyer's Broker Agreement expalined nor the $195 Administrative Fee brought up until a couple of weeks later... someone might need 'remedial - training'... ;-) Have a good day.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
Bc, as Karsten just mentioned, she pays for it out of her proceed and as do many Coldwell Banker Atlanta (NRT) agents. It's not common in Atlanta and it is just corporate greed. All companies are required to keep records of files for so many years beyond closing. Furthermore, If they are so well trained, why did this agent not explain it to you upon your first meeting and even show you homes without a Buyer Brokerage Agreement. ? That is what most 'trained' agents do... is explain all facet of agency and brokerage before putting someone in your car. Best to you.

P.S. Just because a company chooses to spend marketing money on a corporate name, the client and agents should pay for it ? That's ridiculous when the agent is already paying a considerable percentage to the broker AND even more ridiculous to expect the client to pay for the companies marketing efforts. Hmmm , I'm not following the logic on this one regarding the reply from Grayson.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
Hi Bc,

The $195 fee is not standard with a lot of companies, but there are a few in the area that have this and some are quite a bit higher. I'm a Coldwell Banker agent in the Atlanta area, and I'm not a big fan of the fee, but I do understand why it's there.

Coldwell Banker pays a lot of money for marketing and training and just conducting business. Brokers have to keep records for 10 years. They don't, however, have to make it easy for you to get to them should you lose yours. We do. 8 years after you purchase or sell a home, call the Coldwell Banker home office and ask for a copy of your records. Done, and quickly.

Coldwell Banker agents are easily the best trained agents in the area. Working with a Coldwell Banker agent should be a good experience for you, and will more than likely result in a lower price for you at the closing table, even with the $195 fee. There is a reason that I started with them and am still with them. I have more tools at my disposal than most. And I think it's a good thing that a corporate center sets policies. The "every man for himself by however he wants to do it" frame of mind is never a good thing.

Essentially, if I am helping somebody buy and sell, I eat this on both sides for them. I also make some allowances for this. But, I will let you know that if I don't charge it to my client, I have to pay it myself. Just a cost of doing business.

And the point was made earlier - is your agent doing what they are supposed to? Are they going above and beyond your expectations, are they merely adequate, or are you having a frustrating experience? If you are having a great experience, it's a small price to pay. If it's OK, then let your agent pay it, just tell them now. If it's the latter, then go ahead and find another agent. It's easy to kill a buyer-brokerage agreement, and once you sign one with a new agent, your current one goes out the window. And yes, I tell my clients the same thing. And if you have already looked at homes with your agent and used their gas and time, then you owe it to them to at least have the discussion with them. Fire them if necessary, but let them know why.

Hope this helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 16, 2008

While I'm not aware of the practices of brokers in other parts of the country, here in Washington state, the fee is not common. While I understand the logic of it being used as a hook to keep the buyer from getting information from several agents, I don't agree with the philosophy and would recommend you negotiate it out of the buyer contract or purchase agreement.

Good luck,
Jerry Paine
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008

My broker does not charge this fee and I would not work for a broker who imposed such a thing. I've heard of it and know it's common in some areas.

Some use this fee to weed out the looky-Lu's from serious buyers. I think it scares off more clients than it keeps good ones. I would negotiate this fee out of your agreement. That's the first line of defense in stopping a bad trend from getting started!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
This is an extra fee they add on and it is pure profit. This company seems to be the only one that adds this fee. Personally I would not agree to pay this and I would think you could get this removed. They commission received by the buyers broker is paid by the seller and should be enough. I have seen agents try to even put this extra into offers and have sellers pay this as well.
Web Reference: http://www.purrfecthome.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 9, 2008
Honestly Bc,

I would not charge my client an additional $195 fee, and if you really do not want to pay this fee don't its that simple, ask them to take it out. They are not going to want to loose your business over a fee trust me.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 8, 2008
I agree that any brokerage fees in not normal in todays market place. Shop the maket place, Prudential Georgia Realty does not have any buyer brokerage fees.

PS: I bet your agent will eat the fee if you ask....

Malcolm Boartfield, ABR
Prudential Georgia Realty
Cell 494-915-5891
Web Reference: http://www.buycobbhomes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 8, 2008
Actually I work for Coldwell Banker in NC. We do not charge any transaction fees. So as for national companies doing this that is not a nationwide deal. Yes I understand and know what the fee is for. I just know that we do not practice this here in the triad.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
It seems a little "uncommon", in the Atlanta market, to charge an upfront fee IN ADDITION to asking you to assure a commission to the agent at closing. I am assuming that your agreement covers the agent for a stated period of time for any house you buy during that specific time.
From the way you stated your question it seems that you did not know in advance of receiving the buyers brokerage agreement that there would be a fee attached. I would be disappointed if my realtor did not tell me upfront that I would be expected to pay an additional fee. That would be my next conversation with the realtor. Your buyer's agent should be someone you can trust to be upfront with you and hand you no surprises. You don't want to go through the house hunting period wondering what else your realtor is neglecting to tell you.
Joyce Ray, Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Yes I know of alot of agents that are charging "administration fees" or whatever they refer to it as. In fact a prior company that I worked with charges $395 for Buyer Agency agreements, and collects it at the time that the Agency agreement is signed. It was to make sure the Buyer was serious about purchasing a property. Especially if the agent would be putting in alot of time and effort to find what the Buyer wanted.
It was split between the agent and the company at closing.

Now, that being said- I have never charged an administrative fee on either my Buyer Agency agreements or with my listings.

So, as the other agents have said, if you feel that your Realtor is doing a good job for you, and you want to work with them, you may have to pay it if it's their Company policy. Otherwise, see if it is negotiable or interview other agents.

All the Best to you!
Web Reference: http://www.GoPackerUp.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
We charge a broker administration commission to all our clients ($294.00). It is common practice in our marketplace (Minneapolis) but the fees vary by brokerage. All commissions are negotiatable so discuss it with your agent.
Michael Doyle Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008

We all have fees associated with working with clients but some of the larger national companies, the ones that aren't actually owned by Real Estate people, charge these and the agents pass it along. Also, it's become somewhat of an en vogue thing to do. Those practicing the Craig Proctor system also do this, sometimes to the tune of $500.

On one hand, kudos to those agents skilled enough to get a buyer brokerage signed and get money. On the other hand, I think it's pretty tacky and frankly pathetic that they haven't found a better system or have to pass the cost on to the buyer.

If you have a high octane, powerful Realtor, then it's $200 well spent, otherwise, RUN!
Web Reference: http://www.gahomedigest.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 7, 2008
Joshua Jarvis, Real Estate Pro in Duluth, GA
This is a little sad to me as I read through these answers. Did any of you know that your office admins are bonused based on the 'extra commission' / admin fee income? To many of you who don't have an office administration I can see why you wouldn't want to collect this. The bonus goes to the people who make the coffee for your clients. The people who answer the phones. The ones who process your files. The ones who contact the title companies and make sure that your file is always board compliant. If this doesn't mean anything to you then by all means don't collect that money... but why don't you just pop your admin a personal check now and again? Yes, it's a negotiable 'fee' but if I'm doing a deal... I want someone to pick up the phone when my clients call...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 22, 2014
I stupidly signed a Exclusive Buyer Brokerage agreement with Coldwell Banker Burnet realty in Minneapolis. I didn't read the agreement as carefully as I thought I had and didn't realize I would have to pay a $395 fee to Coldwell Banker at closing. RIP OFF!!! The fee was never explained to me, it was assumend that I would read the agreement myself and understand--I didn't! I went to the branch vp and got nowhere, I went to the regional vp and didn't even get the courtesy of a response. I hate to take this matter the the Minnesota Board of Realtors but I don't think I have a choice here. I will say one thing, I would never recommend Coldwell Banker to anyone. I intend to cost them more in business from my experience than they will get from my lousy $395 surcharge!!!!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 12, 2011
If your agent's company charges this, it's up to you to decide if working with that agent is worth the $195. To ask the agent to pay it for you is cheesy, unless the agent hid this fact from you. I care more about my agent relationship than a brand name.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 19, 2008
**..to assume a company can charge a 'fee' "just because they can" is quite audacious on their part and even more so on your for defending them and paying it yourself. You are in a 'dependent' mindset..**

Well said Mr. Garcia...

: ^)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 18, 2008
Sorry, Mr. Garcia, I knew you were an agent, and I was responding to the last part of your previous statement earlier, about not following the logic. I was agreeing with you. Wow. Defensive...

Seriously, I pay the fee and stay with Coldwell because of the tools and support I get. The fees get ridiculous sometimes, but like I said, it's a cost of doing business. And yes, it is "audacious", but again, Coldwell Banker can get away with it. I have had this same discussion with my broker, and the outcome is simply "it is what it is." Which is why I decide to pay it myself.

Sorry, Ramiro, I wasn't attacking you earlier. I was agreeing. And to me, I am a great agent, and being with a big well-respected name like I am just makes it that much easier for me to get into the door and prove it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
Between you and me, Garcia, I'm not sure there's a ton of logic here. It's a fee that Coldwell Banker charges because they can. I have honestly never had anybody balk at it, and I explain it from the beginning. And I agree, your agent should have told you about it when you signed the agreement.

I will say that I usually pay it for my clients. There are some factors that influence this decision, but it's a cost to me of doing business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 17, 2008
As a Coldwell Banker agent in Columbus, I want to add as some others have that this fee is not relate to the franchise. I find it greedy to collect any fee in addition to whatever commission we would be paid. I have heard of agents who will ask for a fee up front -- almost like earnest money -- to solidify the commitment of the buyer client. It's not uncommon for an agent to spend 2-3 months and many hours working with a buyer only to see that buyer purchase a home through another agent. Even so, I believe strong and clear communication up front and throughout the process will ensure a mutual commitment between the agent and the buyer. So, while I would never ask for a fee, I do counsel all buyers to sign a buyer brokerage agreement before we invest time in each other. Those buyers who do make this commitment -- which is virtually everyone -- will receive priority service over those who do not.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 10, 2008
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