Pros and Cons of Paying Buyer’s Agent Commissions: Key Considerations for Home Sellers

Pros and Cons of Paying Buyer’s Agent Commissions: Key Considerations for Home Sellers

  • Liz Kroft
  • 07/4/24

Should Sellers Offer Compensation to Buyer’s Agents? Weighing the Pros and Cons

With the upcoming changes on the horizon due to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) settlement, the real estate market is about to undergo a transformation, particularly in how buyer's agents are compensated. Starting in August 2024, the compensation for buyer’s agents will no longer be advertised on Multiple Listing Services (MLS), affecting how sellers and buyers navigate the market. A critical decision for sellers now is whether to offer compensation to buyer’s agents. Let’s explore the pros and cons of this decision and the factors to consider.


The Pros of Not Offering Compensation to Buyer’s Agents

1. Cost Savings

One immediate benefit of not offering compensation to buyer’s agents is the potential cost savings. Traditionally, a portion of the commission from the sale proceeds has gone to the buyer’s agent, which can be substantial. By eliminating this expense, sellers can keep more of the sale price, which could be especially appealing in high-demand markets like the California Bay Area where homes sell quickly.

2. Increased Flexibility in Negotiations

Without the obligation to allocate funds for the buyer’s agent’s commission, sellers may find they have more flexibility in negotiating other aspects of the sale. This could include adjusting the sale price, offering concessions, or investing in home improvements to make the property more attractive to potential buyers.


The Cons of Not Offering Compensation to Buyer’s Agents

1. Reduced Buyer Pool:

A significant drawback of not offering compensation to buyer’s agents is the potential reduction in the buyer pool. In today’s market, homebuyers are already stretched thin by rising home prices, sizable down payments, closing costs, costly insurance, and other fees. Adding the burden of paying their agent out of pocket could push many buyers out of the market, shrinking the pool of potential buyers for the seller's home.

2. Competitive Disadvantage:

Homes listed without buyer’s agent compensation may face a competitive disadvantage. While the NAR settlement changes prevent outright advertisement of commission rates on MLS, buyer’s agents can still uncover compensation details through discussions with listing agents. If buyers realize they need to cover their agent’s commission out of pocket, it can affect their purchasing power and/or decision to purchase a particular home. This could lead to homes sitting on the market longer or selling for less than comparable properties that offer compensation. 

3. Rise of Discount Agents:

The changes may lead to an increase in discount buyer’s agents who offer limited services for lower fees. While this might seem beneficial, it could expose homebuyers to risks due to insufficient representation. For sellers, this means dealing with less experienced agents on the other side, which can complicate transactions and potentially lead to legal issues or failed deals. Inexperienced agents might miss critical steps in the process, jeopardizing the sale.

4. Impact on Affordability and Loan Structures:

Traditionally, commissions have been part of the loan structure, coming out of the proceeds of the sale. With the shift away from this model, buyers may face higher out-of-pocket expenses, affecting their overall affordability. While some lenders are exploring ways to cover these costs, it is not yet a widespread practice. This transition period might create confusion and financial strain for both buyers and sellers.

Considerations for Sellers

Commissions between sellers, listing agents, buyer’s agents, and buyers have always been negotiable. The NAR settlement changes make this process more transparent and standardized. As the industry adapts to these new regulations, sellers must carefully weigh their options. Here are a few considerations:

  • Market Conditions: Evaluate the current state of the housing market in your area. In a seller’s market, where demand exceeds supply, you might have more leeway to forgo offering buyer’s agent compensation. Conversely, in a buyer’s market, offering compensation could be crucial to attracting interest and securing a sale.
  • Property Appeal: Consider how attractive your property is to potential buyers. Unique or highly desirable properties might sell without offering compensation, while more standard listings could benefit from the additional incentive to buyer’s agents.
  • Financial Flexibility: Assess your financial flexibility and willingness to negotiate. Offering compensation could be a strategic move to ensure a quicker sale and potentially higher offers, offsetting the cost of the commission.
  • Industry Adjustment Period: Understand that the real estate industry will take time to adjust to these changes. During this period, there will likely be a mix of sellers offering and not offering compensation. Monitor trends and be prepared to adapt your strategy accordingly.



Deciding whether to offer compensation to buyer’s agents is complex and multifaceted. While cost savings are a clear advantage for sellers, the potential downsides, such as reduced buyer interest and competitive disadvantage, must be carefully considered. Sellers may find that although they save money by not paying the buyer's agent commission from their proceeds, this could be offset by a reduction in the final sale price due to decreased buyer affordability. Buyers who need to pay for their agents out of pocket may have less to spend on the home itself, ultimately affecting the seller's bottom line.

This topic is undoubtedly controversial, and the best approach will vary depending on individual circumstances, including the specific home, market conditions, and personal goals. Sellers are encouraged to discuss the pros and cons with their real estate agent to determine the best strategy for their unique situation. For further guidance, consult with experienced real estate professionals who can provide tailored advice based on current market conditions and trends.



About The Author

Liz Kroft is a seasoned real estate professional and co-founder of a local brokerage with over eleven years of full-time experience and more than $114 million in sales across the Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley. Known for her dedication, industry innovation, and client advocacy, Liz has been recognized for her achievements, including being voted Best Realtor multiple years by Good Times Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. She is actively involved in her community and previously served as President of the Women's Council of Realtors. Learn more about Liz and the success she creates for her clients.

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With over nine years of full-time experience and more than $114 million in sales across the greater Bay Area, I work tirelessly to be a well-regarded agent, industry innovator, and ambassador for my clients.

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