What has been causing the drop in fees?

●Rising numbers of agents are working for brokerages that allow them to negotiate lower commission rates, with no set minimum. Murray says 2016 appears to be the first year when the percentage of all agents working for brokerages that do not impose some floor on commissions exceeds the percentage of agents working for firms that do.

●Tech-savvy discounters such as Redfin, which is now active in 83 markets, are offering their lower charges — a 1 percent listing fee in Chicago, Denver, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and 1.5 percent elsewhere — putting pressure on competing firms’ agents to be more flexible on fees. Redfin also offers refunds to shoppers who buy through one of their agents.

● Some major markets saw severe shortages of homes available for sale, making traditional agents more willing to negotiate lower fees to obtain listings.

Commissions in real estate are always negotiable. Typical transactions involve “splits” among the brokers and agents involved. If the total commission in the listing contract is 6 percent, normally that gets split in half between the listing agent’s brokerage and the brokerage that brought in the buyer. Each of the slices gets further split between the brokerage firm and the agent. If the listing fee gets negotiated down to 2.5 percent and the fee to the buyer’s agent is 3 percent, the listing brokerage and agent get to split only the 2.5 percent.

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