Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
Real estate agent demonstrating a new apartment to a happy couple
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make per Sale?

    As a homebuyer or seller, you may be considering whether or not to hire a real estate agent to assist with your transaction. It's important to understand how agents are paid for their work and what costs you may be responsible for as a buyer or seller. In this article, we'll explore the various ways that real estate agents are compensated, the pros and cons of using an agent, and tips for choosing the right agent for your needs.

    How Real Estate Agents are Paid

    Real estate agents are typically paid on commission, which is a percentage of the home's sale price. The standard commission rate is 5-6%, and this is split evenly between the buyer's agent and the listing agent. For example, if the sale price of a home is $300,000 and the commission rate is 5%, the total commission would be $15,000. The buyer's agent and listing agent would each receive $7,500.

    Commissions are negotiable and may be based on various factors such as the condition of the home, the desirability of the neighborhood, and the level of competition in the market. Some brokerages may offer a base salary plus bonuses in lieu of commission, while others may charge retainer fees or additional marketing services if the home doesn't sell.

    The average yearly salary for a real estate agent in the United States is around $61,480, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this figure can vary significantly based on location, experience level, and the number of sales made per year. Highly successful agents in competitive markets may earn significantly more, while those just starting out or working in less competitive areas may earn less.

    Pros and Cons of Using a Real Estate Agent

    One of the main benefits of using a real estate agent is their expertise and access to resources. An agent can provide valuable insights on the local market, help you find properties that meet your criteria, and negotiate a better deal on your behalf. They can also handle the paperwork and navigate the legal process, which can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with real estate transactions.

    On the other hand, buyers and sellers are not required to use an agent and may choose to handle the transaction on their own. This is known as a "for sale by owner" (FSBO) transaction. While going the FSBO route can potentially save you money on commissions, it also comes with risks. To learn more about FSBO transactions and if it would make sense for your real estate situation, read our post All You Need To Know About Real Estate Agent Fees (And How To Reduce Them).

    Different Types of Real Estate Agents

    There are four main types of real estate agents: buyer's agents, listing agents, REALTORS®, and brokers. A buyer's agent represents the interests of the homebuyer and helps them find and purchase a property. A listing agent represents the seller and helps market and sell the property.

    A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), a professional organization that sets ethical standards for the real estate industry. REALTORS® are required to adhere to a code of ethics and may have additional education and training.

    A broker is an experienced real estate agent who has met additional education and licensing requirements and may have their own brokerage. Brokers can work with both buyers and sellers and may have a team of agents working under them.

    Choosing a Real Estate Agent

    When it comes to finding a real estate agent, always do your research and ask for recommendations. Look for agents who are licensed in your state and consider their experience level and track record. It's also a good idea to check if the agent is a member of the NAR or other professional organizations. These memberships can indicate a higher level of expertise and commitment to ethical practices.

    It is against antitrust laws for brokerages to agree on fixed commissions together. This means that clients can shop around and potentially find lower commission rates independently. However, be wary of agents or brokers who offer significantly lower rates than the industry standard, as this may indicate a lack of experience or lower level of service.

    There are alternatives to using a traditional real estate agent, such as discount brokers or real estate attorneys. Discount brokers may charge a lower commission rate in exchange for limited services, while real estate attorneys can provide legal guidance and representation during the transaction.

    Remember: there’s more to an agent than just the commission and the sale of the home. Closing costs can include different things whether you are the buyer or the seller. To understand how much you can expect to pay, and what factors you can negotiate, read Who Pays Closing Costs.


    There are pros and cons to using a real estate agent, and it's important to weigh these factors when deciding whether or not to hire one. When choosing an agent, be sure to do your research and ask for recommendations, and consider their experience level and membership in professional organizations. If you’re trying to break away from the conventional route, learn more about discount brokers and real estate attorneys, or FSBO.

    Hiring a real estate agent is a personal decision that should be based on your specific needs and goals. No matter what option you decide to go with, be sure to do your due diligence and choose an agent who will best serve your needs. 

    Buy a home and save $2,140 on average at closing with Unreal Estate. Or sell your home faster and take home $11,114 more on average by starting a listing.

    We'd love to hear your thoughts about this article and our blog. Let us know how we did by completing the Unreal Estate Blog Feedback Survey.

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