Is 3% commission for an buying agent typical in DC?

Asked by Steve Duren, Zurich Switzerland Wed Mar 25, 2009

Is 3% commission for an buying agent typical in DC?

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Andres Piedra, Agent, Alexandria, VA
Wed Aug 11, 2010
There really is no "typical" commission rate.....however, you will most definitely see 3% offered to buyers' agents extremely often. All commission rates are negotiable, but as far as the offer to a buyer's agent is concerned, the commission rate is set by the listing agent, who has pre-negotiated with the seller on a commission rate. No matter what agreement I come to with a seller when listing, whether it be 4, 5 or 6 percent etc, I will ALWAYS offer 3% to a buyer's agent as professional courtesy.
2 votes
Mark, Agent, Oceanside, CA
Fri May 13, 2016
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0 votes
Curious, , Chicago, IL
Sun Aug 29, 2010
Based on my home purchase experience, I would suggest that you be very careful when selecting a buyer's agent. Do not sign any buyer agent agreement until you are absolutely sure about the agent. You may want an agent, who lives in the area you are searching your home (preferably), knows the area you want to purchase VERY well, has a lot of experience, but not arrogant. When you sign the buyer agent agreement, be sure the agreement period is not too long, has the option to let you out when your agent is not performing, and you are not responsible for paying buyer's commission if seller refuses to pay. Carefully read everything you sign. I would not say that all agents are greedy, but few not so desirable ones are out there, and there are also quite a number of good, caring agents, too. Avoid letting the buyer's agent to learn on your dime at all cost. Even if an agent has shown you some houses, you may want to get out while you can if you find the agent to be inexperienced or not the right fit for you. It can be expensive. Good luck.
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Gerard Dunn, Agent, Chevy Chase, MD
Sun Aug 29, 2010
Yes, it is typical - but each listing is negotiated individually.

Good Luck!

Gerry Dunn
Associate Broker

Serving Maryland, Virginia and D.C
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Daniel Johns…, , Mitchellville, MD
Sat Aug 28, 2010
It is but I am seeing a decrease in the amount offered as of late, lots of 2.5% rates out there...especially in REO and short sales.
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Kelly Putz, Agent, Fairfax, VA
Thu Aug 26, 2010
Very good point Susan!

I forgot about FSBOs, which definitely would be a good case for having that clause.

In the case of that particular agent, our broker used to be a colleague of hers and apparently that's the way she does business, no matter how much she puts into a listing. Somehow it works for her, but I couldn't live with myself knowing I had done that, not only to another agent, but to the listing client who overpaid her.
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Susan Isaacs, Agent, Washington, DC
Thu Aug 26, 2010
Old question! All good answers, I'd just clarify that in the course of touring homes and reviewing listings, a buyer and agent may stumble upon a FISBO the buyer wants to investigate and the seller may not be offering commission. It is these cases that make that BAA clause valuable. If the buyer wants to avail him/herself of a agent's services for such a purchase, he/she will have to pay the commission unless it can be negotiated into the deal.

I agree that asking a buyer to pay the difference between commissoin offered by a seller and commission desired is not cool. No telling what the reason was for the example offered about a difference between a lister's commission and the buyer's agent's commission---perhaps the agent had spent a large amount of time and money marketing the property, or maybe that agent does it as a matter of course--but my feeling is that a buyer should be made aware of every property that might suit their needs, regardless of what's going on between agents. It all evens out. : )

Check out my profile page and email me if you're looking for space in DC!
0 votes
Kelly Putz, Agent, Fairfax, VA
Sun Aug 15, 2010
Hey Steve,

3% is typical in DC - the commission from the seller is 6% and is typically split 50-50 between the listing agent and the selling agent (that's actually the buyer's agent). But there is no set commission rate for anywhere in the country. That's illegal.

I have to disagree with Vicky on an agent insisting that a buyer agree to pay a commission. To our agency, it's an act of desperation in trying to sign a client. Although that clause is written into all three area Buyer Agency Agreements (DC/MD/VA), we zero that area out because we will always get paid by the seller. The buyer should not have to pay their agent's commission. We only deal with agencies who are on the up-and-up and have it in the listing that the selling agent will be paid a commission. The commission is the commission, and trying to negotiate more than what is being offered on a sale from the buyer, because it's not written at what you expect to get paid, just doesn't fly.

When an agent shows a property, they know what commission is being offered because it is required to be part of the listing. However, I have come across at least one agent for a well known company in the Metro DC area who had 2.5% commission being offered, which would normally be 5% commission split 50-50. We found out at settlement she wrote her contract up for 6% commission, but only gave the selling agent 2.5% while she kept 3.5% for herself. That's not really fair, considering the buyer's agent usually has to do more work to get the contract to settlement and this house in particular only sat on the market for 2 weeks. But that's the cost of doing business for her, and it will cost her business in the future because when we see her name on a property we are less likely to work with her. I would never DREAM of asking my buyer to make up the difference on what I "should" have gotten.

If you're shopping for a property in the DC area, I'm licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia and can help you no matter where you want to look. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Kelly Putz
Kangal Real Estate
0 votes
Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Thu Mar 26, 2009
Yep, previous posters are dead on. If you are thinking of buying in our area, and are hiring a buyers agent to assist you, they may require a minimum amount (perhaps 3%), so if you buy a property where the seller is not offering to pay the buyer commission and/or is paying less, you must make up the difference. If that is the case, just ask your agent to be sure to advise you (otherwise you won't know) what you'd have to pay toward the commission, so you can factor it into your acquisition price. Agents who are requiring that you pay a minimum are usually stronger agents and worth it - don't shy away from them. They are strong enough to make sure that you know this is a business for them and therefore they expect to get paid (who can blame them), but be sure to be equally straight with your expectations of the service level you'll get.

I don't work in DC, I am a Northern Virginia agent. If you venture into my marketplace, please feel free to contact me. And/or if you need a referral to a DC agent, I have some great relationships with strong agents I can recommend, feel free to send me an email if you need a connection.

Vicky Chrisner
Keller Williams
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Randolph Ada…, Agent, Washington, DC
Wed Mar 25, 2009
3% is typical, sometimes 2.75%, this market, it could be more...4%...because a seller wants to motivate other agents in a high inventory market to show and get buyers to consider their property over other properties. The commission that is to be paid to a sub agent or buyers agent is determined by the seller and set forth with the listing broker/agent in the listing agreement. It is contractual agreement between the seller and seller's listing broker. The commission that is set forth in the listing agreement is paid by the seller upon settlement to the listing broker and buyer's broker.
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Andy Peers, Agent, Washington DC, DC
Wed Mar 25, 2009
Hello again,

Yes, 3% is typical but it can be more or less than that. I'm sure you know by now that a buyer's agent commission is typically paid for by the seller. The seller and listing agent agree to a fee and that fee is split by the listing broker and buyer's broker. The agents then receive their portion of the broker's compensation.

Good luck.
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