When it comes to how much commission you pay the agent or agents who helped you sell your home, that will vary. But it often boils down to a percentage of the home’s sales price. So on a home that sold for $450,000, a 6% commission equals $27,000. Half of the commission you pay goes to the listing agent, and the other half goes to the buyer’s agent. Of course, as with any rule, there can be exceptions. (Note: As with all real estate commissions, amounts vary and are not standardized or mandated at a specific percentage.)
And when it comes to land, an agent’s commission may not be based solely on the land’s sales price. As a result, the fee a seller pays an agent can vary widely. That’s because there is a host of differences between selling a home and selling land. The biggest variant? There’s a more limited pool of buyers for land purchases than for homes. And that factor alone calls for an agent to adjust the normal sales approach. In addition, people looking for land are often hoping to develop a property or to build a home, which whittles down potential buyers even further.
Here are the main things to take into consideration when selling your land so you’ll have an idea of how much of a commission you might pay.
As with home sales, the commission rate for land is typically set by the listing agent and paid for by the seller.
Yet there’s a wide range of what the commission on a land sale can be. For instance, on a plot of land costing $250,000, sellers could pay anywhere between $12,500 to $25,000 in commission, according to John Myers, real estate broker and owner of Myers & Myers Real Estate in Albuquerque, NM.
Other agents may charge a flat fee, depending on the land’s acreage and the particular brokerage firm they work for. Some brokerages may also charge some type of transaction fee—which covers document storage and management costs—in addition to the commission or flat fee.
The primary factor used to determine an agent’s commission is usually the price of the land listed in an accepted offer. But agents also base their expected commission fee on several additional elements. These include how much work they expect to undertake in selling the property and how long they predict the sale will take.
Commission rates can also vary by location or the type of land. For example, vacant land may be easier to sell than land that needs to be cleared.
A higher sales price for a piece of land may also affect the commission. If you’re selling land worth $1 million, a 6% commission would work out to $60,000. If the land is worth only $60,000, a 6% commission would be $3,600. Yet both pieces of land could require the same amount of work to handle the transaction. And in that case, agents may expect a higher commission on a less valuable property to make it worth their while.
Risk is another factor real estate agents take into account when setting their commission, says Myers. The higher the risk for the real estate agent, the higher the commission.
Selling raw land can come with a higher risk than selling a home. That’s because buyers purchasing raw land are often looking to build a home. And developing raw land can involve a variety of issues and complications that might throw a wrench in those plans. As a result, agents sometimes need to do quite a bit of legwork to ensure the land is buildable, from obtaining septic information to testing the groundwater.
“Agents can be sued for making incorrect disclosures, intentional or unintentional,” says Myers. “So sellers and listing agents had better be experts when it comes to availability of utilities and services to the land. They should also know who is responsible to pay for utility connections.”
If you’re hoping to sell a parcel of land and want to know what the commission might be, it’s always a good idea to shop around for an agent. Ask for estimates from several agents so you can compare not only their commission rate but what services they offer in exchange for payment.
“Speak with several different real estate agents, ask them how much they charge and what they do to earn that commission,” says Joshua Hanoud, a real estate agent with Tropic Shores Realty in Spring Hill, Fla. “Base who you hire on the responses that you get. Some agents are worth more than others.”
Just remember, as with anything else, you often get what you pay for. And you may not want to sacrifice experience and expertise to save a few commission percentage points.
“There could be lower rates available, but the important thing is not what you pay, but what you receive in return,” says Jim Basquette, a real estate agent with Huff Realty in Cincinnati. “Getting the right agent is more important than getting the lowest rate.”
So if you’re looking to sell a piece of property, make sure you work with a real estate professional who knows the ins and outs of land sales in particular. While their commission should certainly factor into your decision, choosing the wrong agent could cost you more down the line.
Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.
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