What Is a Reasonable Commission Fee for a Real Estate Agent?

Home sellers have some room for leverage in commissions.

Historically, real estate agents have always gotten 6 percent commission for selling a home, and more than 10 percent for raw land. But the drop in home values, along with homeowners' increased ability to use the Internet to sell their own homes, has forced commissions down in many cases. Determining a real estate agent's commission now depends on many factors.


Reduced Commissions

According to MSN Money, national averages for real estate commissions have fallen from 6 percent to 5.1 as of May 2011. Consequently, in the case of a home sale of a normal single-family residence, a commission of 5.1 to 6 percent would be reasonable. That assumes, however, that there are no major problems with the property or other circumstances that add to the difficulty of selling the property.


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Raw Land

Selling raw land is complicated. Defining the property lines, identifying solutions for utilities, ascertaining building codes and rules all make the process more complicated than selling a home that is built. Consequently, commissions for raw land historically have been 10 percent or more. Because raw land continues to be difficult to sell and demand has not increased, you'll probably still end up paying this commission in most states.


Difficult to Sell

If property is particularly difficult to sell because of flaws, property line disputes, insurance issues, flooding or other problems, it will be much more difficult for a real estate agent to sell. And with a glut of sound properties on the market, you may still be looking at a 6 percent commission if you want the agent to work hard enough to get your property sold.


Expensive Property

For very expensive properties, those over $1.5 million for example, it is sometimes customary to drop the commission below 6 percent, according to an article in the "The New York Times' in January 2011. It is customary to drop the price even though, with a home of $1.5 million, the real estate agent may have to split a $90,000 commission with a sales agent and then split the $45,000 with his broker or to pay for marketing costs.