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Realtors earn their 5%-8% in sales commissions through accumulated experiences, market access tools, education – and knowing how to finesse a sale.

The compensation earned by real estate agents is tied directly to the closing price of the home, typically between 5% and 8% of that price. It is a fee paid by the seller (split between agents for buyers and sellers) and consequently subject to scrutiny, particularly as prices have gone up the Realtors’ earnings appear to be substantial.

For example, the three-bedroom bungalow in Northeast Los Angeles that closes at $750,000 can earn the agents a collective 6%, $45,000, so it’s reasonable to ask what value that brings to the seller. From purely the seller’s perspective – leaving alone what buyers’ agents do – the following is a partial inventory of what Realtors do for them: 

They understand the products and the market – A licensed Realtor (and selling agents working under their tutelage) learns the area-specific details of their work over time. The buyers in Eagle Rock might differ from those in Glassell Park as much as the stock of homes in Pasadena varies from the inventory of homes for sale in Highland Park, Hermon and Garvanza. Where schools are strongest, where recreational amenities are a draw, what Millennial or empty-nester buyers are settling is generally known to the real estate agents who work seven days a week, evenings included, to ultimately connect sellers with enthusiastic buyers. 

They understand and manage the legal requirements – There are legal requirements (the Transfer Disclosure Statement, the Preliminary Title Report, transfer taxes, etc.) that are handled by the agent before the real estate attorney gets involved. Also, sellers need to be in compliance with equal opportunity housing laws (the federal Fair Housing Act, plus state and local laws) else they risk penalties, fines and civil litigation. 

They do the work of finding buyers – The explosion of marketing tools via the Internet – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Zillow, Trulia,, to name a few – also means gathering the photos and videos, as well as write the marketing copy, monitor responses and turn interest into active prospects. Only after that does the hard work begin of selling within agent networks, open houses, actual showings, identifying qualified buyers and price negotiations.

They know the pitfalls of pricing, terms and an acceptable offer – Pricing a home to sell is not simply a matter of starting high to negotiate downward; pricing it too high can mean the home will linger on the market – which communicates “something’s wrong with it.” Very often you can price it low and get bids to push the price up, sometimes beyond expectation. This assumes, of course, that the seller follows the seasoned advice of the selling agent on home fix-ups, de-cluttering, cleaning, staging and landscaping to make the property as attractive as possible.

They do this at risk – Not every sale happens. The seller may change his or her mind midstream for all kinds of reasons. The market might turn on an economic crisis. Or the house itself might be damaged in a natural disaster. This might come after the selling agent spends scores of hours on the process – and they will not only earn nothing but be out of luck on the expenses incurred in marketing.

NELA’s Tracy King is a Realtor who has earned her commissions over a quarter century of work in the area. Contact her to discuss past clients and what buyers are looking for today.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or