Should brokers volunteer rebates to their clients?

How is chopping commissions the answer to housing’s doldrums? (Flickr photo by Chris Campbell)

Jennifer Saranow Schultz writes in the New York Times that one way for consumers to get a discount equivalent to the expired home buyer’s tax credit “is to ask the real estate agent to take it out of the commission.”

What a great idea!!!

She approvingly quotes Colm Glass of an eponymous  brokerage in San Francisco as offering a $5,000 rebate for homes sold for less than $1 million and perhaps $8,000-10,000 for those priced higher.

Although I have contended in the past that real estate brokers often are overpaid, I have to say that Glass’ and Schultz’s notion of using commissions to replace the tax credit is like demanding that transit workers cover your commuting costs.  It’s a bizarre, though hardly novel, idea; obviously, the broker is indulging himself in a possibly successful marketing ploy.

While I was working on this post, another story surfaced in a major newspaper: The Wall Street Journal added insult to my sense of injury with an article giving advice to sellers on how to get brokers to lower their fees.

While I’m willing at least to discuss the possibility of taking a listing for less than my standard commission, depending on circumstances, I do like to remind sellers that they are asking me to take a double-digit percentage pay cut.

Would the seller do that?  Would the seller accept reduced diligence or fewer services on the part of the broker in return for such a hefty discount?

I doubt it.

Although I have no hope at all that sellers will stop trying to force a reduction in brokers’ compensation, I do believe that it is high time for such requests to come off the table.

They are insulting, disrespectful and usually unjustified.  If a seller doesn’t sufficiently value a broker’s time, energy, experience, knowledge, professionalism and negotiating skills, then perhaps that property owner should try selling the place without a broker.

It then will no doubt become clear what a good broker offers and how much he or she is worth, especially in a challenging housing market.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
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