There is no requirement that a listing broker offers compensation of any amount to list a property on the Multiple Listing Service—the National Association of Realtors response to a claim in a new class-action suit.
However, once the broker publishes the amount of compensation in the MLS, the listing broker may not alter the percentage or dollar amount without the approval of the cooperating broker.
A listing broker who publishes a promise to pay any money to a cooperating broker must have the seller bound (through the listing contract) to pay the same amount, or the broker will be liable to pay the compensation. A random search of homes sold since January 1, 2020, in seven Madison geographic areas gave me these results: 179/202 (88.6%) listings are published with 3.0% as the Offer of compensation to cooperating brokers (buyer agents and sub-agents). Fourteen sellers paid 2.5%. In two sales, the reward was 3.5%, and in 21 deals, the listing agent published compensation was less than 2.5%.
There is Nothing Magical About 3.0%
I contend the reason there is nothing magical driving the 3.0% number. There is a flawed assumption driving the fact that nearly 90% of all home sellers commit to paying 3.0% commission, which may be more than necessary before they ever see an offer. The fact that 88.6% of sellers in this group promised to pay 3.0% commission does not prove that they could not have sold the property on the same terms and netted more had they promised to pay less than 3.0%.
Keep your promise, but hold on to that commitment
Clients of Essential Real Estate, LLC are fully informed of their options and the reality of how the broker compensation and cooperation works. We prefer our clients to know that they are not obligated to promise to pay any amount before seeing the terms of an Offer. An informed home seller may be wise to wait until they see the terms of an Offer before committing themselves to pay a commission more costly than the Offer is worth.
The Buyer Agent’s Commission is Seller Home Equity
Because real estate licensees are ethical and operate their business within the rules of license law, the commission offered by the seller or the listing agent has no consideration in their decision to present your home to their client. If there are facts to counter my assertion, please share them. American home sellers could save hundreds of millions of dollars in home equity every year by reserving their right to negotiate the commission after seeing the terms of an Offer. Clients of ours have the opportunity to keep more of their equity by knowing facts and not believing fiction.