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When selling a property, it's important to understand the costs involved, including the fees paid to real estate agents, known as commissions. There are two main types of commissions: listing commission and sales commission. 

In this blog, we will learn what each of these terms means, how they differ, and what they mean for you as a seller or a real estate professional. By understanding these commissions, you can make better decisions and navigate the property selling process more effectively. 

Whether you're selling your first home or are a seasoned real estate agent, this blog will help you grasp the essentials of real estate commissions.

What is the listing commission?

A listing commission is a fee paid to a real estate agent or brokerage for their services in helping a property owner to list, market, and sell their property. It is typically a percentage of the final sale price of the property and is negotiated between the property owner and the real estate agent or brokerage.

Imagine you're selling your house. You decide to work with a real estate agent to help you find a buyer. The agent puts in a lot of effort to make sure your house gets sold. They take pictures, create listings, and market your property to attract potential buyers. They also show your house to interested parties, negotiate offers, and handle all the paperwork involved in the sale.

For all this hard work, the agent charges a fee, which is called the listing commission. It's usually a percentage of the final sale price. This fee is how the agent earns a living and covers the costs they incur while selling your house. These costs can include advertising, hiring photographers, and paying for other marketing expenses.

The typical range for a listing commission is between 5% and 6% of the final sale price. So, if your house sells for $300,000 and the listing commission is 5%, you would pay the agent $15,000.

Overall, the listing commission is a way to compensate the agent for their time, effort, and expertise in helping you sell your home. It's an important part of the real estate process that benefits both sellers and agents.

Responsibilities of the listing agent

Important responsibilities of a listing agent are:

1. Protect a seller’s best interests

This means the listing agent is legally and ethically bound to prioritize the seller's needs. They must act honestly and in good faith, disclosing all relevant information about the property to potential buyers.

2. Conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA)

This involves researching similar properties in the area that have recently sold, are currently on the market, or have not sold. By analyzing these properties, the agent can determine a competitive and realistic price for the seller's property.

3. Offer guidance on required disclosures

The agent helps the seller understand and fulfill their legal obligations to disclose information about the property. This can include any known defects, renovations done without permits, or environmental hazards.

4. Advise on home preparation

The agent provides recommendations on how to make the property more attractive to potential buyers. This could involve decluttering, staging the home, making minor repairs, or even suggesting more significant renovations that could increase the property's value.

5. Execute a marketing plan

 The agent develops and implements a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote the property. This may include professional photography, virtual tours, listing the property on multiple online platforms, hosting open houses, and leveraging their network of contacts to find potential buyers.

6. Manage showings and open houses

The agent schedules and conducts property showings for interested buyers, ensuring that the property is presented in the best possible light. They may also host open houses to attract more potential buyers.

How is a listing agent compensated?

Listing agents typically earn a commission based on a percentage of the home’s final sale price, which is usually deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. The average commission percentage is 5-6% of the final sale price. However, this total is split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent and is paid to the companies each agent works for, as outlined in the agreement signed with the agent.

For example, if the total commission is 5%, usually 2.5% is paid to the listing agent’s brokerage and 2.5% to the buyer’s agent’s brokerage. The listing agent then receives a portion of that 2.5% from their brokerage.

The exact amount can vary based on the agent's experience and transaction volume. An experienced listing agent might make around 90% of the commission, while agents with less experience might make 50-80%.

It's important to note that there's no fixed rule about the commission percentage, and sellers can negotiate this with the listing agent. When deciding how much to pay a realtor, factors such as experience, marketing plan, overall service, availability, negotiating skills, reputation, and integrity should be considered, as they directly impact the results the agent will achieve for the seller.

What is a sales commission?

A sales commission is a form of payment given to salespeople, particularly in the real estate sector. It serves as a reward for their efforts in facilitating a transaction, such as the sale of a property. 

This commission motivates agents and brokers to work towards achieving a sale, aligning their interests with those of their clients. The commission is only earned if the transaction successfully closes, making it a performance-based form of compensation.

Responsibilities of a Selling Agent

1. Showing the property

One of the primary responsibilities of a selling agent is to show properties to potential buyers. This involves scheduling appointments, organizing property tours, and highlighting the features and benefits of each property.

2. Negotiating the purchase agreement

Selling agents play a crucial role in negotiating the terms of the purchase agreement between the buyer and the seller. This includes discussing the price, terms and conditions, and any contingencies.

3. Communicating with the listing agent and the seller

Selling agents act as intermediaries between the buyer and the seller, ensuring that communication flows smoothly between both parties. They relay offers, counteroffers, and any other relevant information.

4. Coordinating inspections and appraisals

Selling agents help coordinate property inspections and appraisals, ensuring that they are completed in a timely manner. They also help buyers understand the results of these inspections and appraisals.

5. Advising the buyer on the offer and negotiation process 

Selling agents provide valuable advice to buyers throughout the offer and negotiation process. They help buyers understand market conditions, determine a competitive offer price, and negotiate effectively with the seller.

How are sales commissions calculated?

Sales commissions in real estate are typically calculated as a percentage of the property's final sale price. This percentage is pre-agreed upon between the property seller and the real estate agent or broker at the start of their agreement. 

The standard commission rate can vary depending on the location, market conditions, and the property type, but it generally ranges from 3% to 6% of the sale price.

Example of Sales Commission Calculation:

Suppose a house sells for $500,000 and the agreed commission rate is 5%. The total commission would be:

Total Commission=$500,000×5%=$25,000

Total Commission=$500,000×5%=$25,000

If this commission is to be split equally between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent, each would receive:

Individual Commission=$25,000/2=$12,500

Individual Commission=$25,000/2=$12,500

Thus, each agent earns $12,500 from the transaction. This system ensures that both the buyer’s and seller's agents are adequately compensated for their roles in the sale process.

Differences Between Listing Commission and Sales Commission


      Listing Commission

Sales Commission


To compensate the real estate agent for listing the property and securing a buyer.

To compensate the real estate agent for successfully completing a sale.

Timing of Payment

Paid when the property is listed for sale.

Paid when the property sale is finalized.


Typically a percentage of the property's listing price.

Typically a percentage of the property's sale price.


Incurred by the seller.

Incurred by the seller or buyer, depending on the agreement.


Can be negotiated between the seller and the agent.

Can be negotiated between the seller or buyer and the agent.

Influence on Agent's Efforts

Can influence the agent's focus on marketing and securing a sale.

Can influence the agent's efforts to negotiate a successful sale.

Common Range

Varies but can range from 1% to 3% of the listing price.

Varies but can range from 2% to 6% of the sale price.

Frequency of Payment

Typically paid once when the property is listed.

Typically paid once when the property sale is completed.

Case Study 1: Streamlining Agent Management with Compass

Compass, a comprehensive sales commission management solution, designed to streamline operations for real estate agents. The focus is on its deployment by a leading real estate agency looking to enhance efficiency and agent performance.


The agency faced multiple challenges that impeded its operational efficiency and agent productivity:

  • Inefficient Data Management: Agents struggled with scattered data across multiple systems, making it difficult to access and analyze client information and property details efficiently.
  • Lack of Real-Time Collaboration: There was no system in place for real-time updates, which led to communication delays and missed opportunities.
  • Time-Consuming Reporting Processes: Generating reports was a labor-intensive process, consuming valuable time that could otherwise be spent on client interaction and sales activities.


Compass introduced several key features to address these challenges:

  • Centralized Data Platform: Compass provided a unified platform that centralized all client and property information, streamlining access and management.
  • Real-Time Collaboration Tools: The system included tools for real-time communication and updates, enabling immediate sharing of information among agents and support staff.
  • Automated Reporting: Compass automated the reporting process, allowing agents to generate detailed reports quickly and efficiently, thus saving time and reducing manual errors.


The adoption of Compass led to significant improvements in operational efficiency and agent productivity:

  • Enhanced Data Accessibility: Agents were able to access and manage data more efficiently, leading to quicker response times and better client service.
  • Improved Collaboration: The real-time tools facilitated better communication, ensuring that all team members were up-to-date with the latest information, which enhanced teamwork and decision-making.
  • Increased Productivity: With automated reporting, agents saved on average several hours per week, which they could redirect towards sales and client interactions.

Case Study 2: Enhancing Property Sales Through Data-Driven Strategies

A young and ambitious real estate firm based in Chennai, India, specialized in properties across six major areas. The firm aimed to increase its market share and improve sales efficiency.


  • Low Conversion Rates: The firm faced low conversion rates from initial property inquiries to final sales.
  • Inefficient Marketing: Their marketing efforts were not targeted, leading to high costs and low returns.
  • Data Underutilization: Despite having access to substantial customer interaction data, the firm lacked the expertise to leverage this data for strategic decision-making.


  • Advanced Analytics Implementation: The firm implemented a robust analytics system to dissect customer behavior and preferences, helping them understand which properties were most likely to sell and why.
  • Targeted Marketing Campaigns: Use insights gained from analytics, the firm launched targeted marketing campaigns, focusing on high-interest customer segments and localities showing increased demand.
  • Training and Development: The sales team received training on using data analytics to tailor their sales pitches according to the potential buyer's preferences and history.


  • Increased Sales Conversion Rate: The introduction of data-driven strategies resulted in a 40% increase in conversion rates within the first year.
  • Reduced Marketing Costs: By focusing on targeted advertising, the firm reduced its marketing expenses by 25% while increasing the effectiveness of its campaigns.
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: With more personalized interactions, customer satisfaction scores improved, leading to higher referrals and repeat customers.

Case Study 3: Janie's Strategic Shift in Real Estate Leading to a 400% Increase in Commissions

Janie Howard, an established real estate agent based in Colorado, faced challenges in her sales processes and sought to dramatically improve her business outcomes. Her primary goals included building a robust online presence and revamping her sales strategies to better capture and convert leads.


  • Lack of Online Presence: Initially, Janie lacked a dedicated website and primarily relied on referrals, which limited her market reach and lead generation capabilities.
  • Outdated Sales Processes: Her sales processes were outdated, relying heavily on manual efforts and inefficient lead management systems, which hampered her ability to effectively manage and close leads.
  • Inadequate Lead Distribution: The existing system did not support efficient lead distribution among her team, causing potential sales opportunities to be missed or mishandled.


  • Digital Transformation: Janie partnered with Session Six to undergo a digital transformation that included developing a new, optimized website targeted at military movers—a niche market in her area.
  • Advanced CRM Integration: The introduction of LionDesk CRM allowed for better lead management and nurturing, enabling a more systematic approach to lead distribution and follow-up.
  • Enhanced Lead Generation Strategy: A comprehensive Google Ads and CRO strategy was implemented alongside dedicated landing pages to attract and pre qualify leads more effectively.


  • Significant Increase in Commissions: Within the first six months of implementing the new strategies, Janie's real estate commissions increased by 400%.
  • Improved Lead Management: The integration of advanced CRM systems and targeted marketing efforts led to a higher volume of qualified leads and better conversion rates.
  • Expanded Market Reach: The new digital presence and streamlined sales processes allowed Janie to effectively reach and serve a broader audience, particularly out-of-state military personnel looking to relocate.


Understanding the distinctions between listing commissions and sales commissions is crucial for anyone involved in a real estate transaction. While listing commissions are paid to the listing agent for marketing and selling the property, sales commissions involve both the listing and the buyer's agent and are usually split between them. 

This knowledge can empower sellers to negotiate better terms and make informed decisions about how they want to compensate the professionals who help them sell their property. 

Whether you're a seasoned investor or a first-time home seller, being aware of these differences ensures that you can strategically approach your real estate transactions, potentially saving money and aligning your interests with those of your real estate professionals.

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