What is included in a real estate agent’s commission?
A full-service real estate agent in the Palmetto State will provide a high level of offerings that go toward giving you a great selling experience and boosting exposure to your home.
An agent’s services fall into a few main categories:
Guidance on pre-sale improvements
Agents see a lot of houses in their South Carolina markets. They will have an eye for the small but impactful improvements you could make to help it sell for more. The best agents will go above and beyond to help their clients get the job done.
Top agents like Barber will also know what South Carolina home shoppers expect to be improved or repaired, and what things you don’t need to fix when selling your house.
An agent will put together a comparative market analysis (CMA) in the form of a thick packet featuring charts, facts, figures, and photographs of houses. The analysis will show you what your home is worth based on comparable sales in the neighborhood, market trends, and local price per square foot. This key tool helps you set a realistic price that can attract offers right off the bat in a fraction of the time it would take a non-professional to determine.
As part of their commission, at a minimum, South Carolina agents should offer expert home prep and staging, professional photography, marketing flyers and pamphlets, direct mail, automatic postings of your listing on major home search sites, local advertisements, exclusive previews for other brokers, and open house coordination. Advanced agents may also offer the development of a virtual tour.
“An aggressive agent is going to market the property behind the MLS (multiple listing service) and is going to do the virtual component many times,” Barber says. “Your listing is going to get more views than the standard listing, and that will certainly make a difference in the number of buyers that see it and cause demand to be in the seller’s favor.”
Offer management and negotiations
When you receive one or multiple offers, an agent will help you determine the strength of the offer and work with you to proceed with responding to buyers. They’ll advise on whether to accept, reject, or make a counteroffer while putting together offer spreadsheets to identify the best offer in bidding war situations.
If a buyer requests repairs after the inspection, an agent will help you push back where appropriate and advise on when to concede. Should the appraised value be lower than the contract price, an agent can help you determine whether to ask the buyer to make up the difference or if you should lower your price.
Market knowledge and neighborhood expertise
Great South Carolina real estate agents know what local buyers seek in homes and which of your home’s attributes to highlight. An agent will skillfully incorporate key features into your home’s listing description and immediately be able to recognize what makes your house or the surrounding area special.
What is a fair real estate commission in South Carolina?
As noted above, the average commission rate in most South Carolina markets is between 5%-6% to hire a full-service real estate agent. This rate should mean you have an agent who is dedicated to selling your home for the best possible price, who is available and communicative, and who is willing to shepherd the transaction from start to finish. If an agent isn’t willing to offer all or the majority of services listed above, you should interview more candidates.
According to Barber, the best way to know you’re getting a fair commission rate is to make sure your agent is upfront about what they’re charging. They should be able to tell you in your first meeting what fees will be due and when.
“Before [the seller] signs the contract, they should ask their agent, ‘Hey, okay, this is the price. What is the commission? What are any other fees?’ So they know exactly what they net in their pocket before they accept the price,” Barber explains.
What if my South Carolina house doesn’t sell?
Real estate agents only get paid commissions if and when your home sells successfully. Most real estate contracts include an exclusive right to sell, which gives the real estate agent the sole rights to market the property, list the property on MLS, and receive the commission if the sale closes in a determined time frame. If your house remains on the market beyond the time period outlined in the listing agreement, you are not obligated to pay your agent.
However, keep in mind that your listing agreement may contain a protection clause, also known as a “brokerage protection clause,” “safety clause,” “extension clause,” or “tail provision.” The protection clause states that if a buyer who the listing agent introduced to the property purchases the property after the listing agreement expires, the seller still must pay the agent a commission.
Barber says these situations are rare, but they could happen depending on the contract you sign. It’s important to fully understand your listing agreement and what protections it holds for both you and the agent. Don’t be afraid to consult a real estate attorney before signing if you’re unsure of what you’re looking at.