I see cost to sell a home is at least 6% in commission and some expenses.

I am planning to sell my $200K home and buy a new one of about $500K. Without arguing which party( buyer/seller) pays for the commission. If I become Real Estate Agent ( I am very confident that I can pass the state exam), Will I be able to use that knowledge to save at least half the commission ? Or I need to become Real Estate Broker ?

I looked at real estate agent /v/s broker, but could not figure out ?

  • 4
    I think state jurisdiction is going to matter here, so may want to list that. Also, keep in mind that the money paid isn't for nothing - are you willing + able to put in the work and get the same result a professional could get? Maybe yes, maybe no. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 15:35
  • 12
    If your goal is just to save money on your sale can you just do a private sale with no agent? I’m not sure if that’s allowed in all states though.
    – Dugan
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 15:35
  • 6
    Are you telling us that in your part of the world you're REQUIRED to use an agent? How on earth did the Realators' Union manage to swing that one?
    – Laurence
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 0:22
  • 1
    I wouldn't recommend it. Real estate is one of those things that takes experience to do well. You're going to get a better deal and avoid a lot of potential problems by working with someone who knows houses well and how the market works. (Source: my dad is a real estate agent)
    – Beefster
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 6:23
  • 1
    That 6% is negotiable. I've done it twice now and found an agent to go as low as 4.5%. And this was before this current market where houses are selling so quickly. You could probably do better than that now.
    – noslenkwah
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 17:11

8 Answers 8


A Realtor (agent or broker) brings much more to the table than simply their license.

Even if we assume you will absorb all the knowledge and skill a realtor has (in order to help you price the home correctly, show it, work through negotiations, work through the closing, and so on), Realtors are also a gateway for buyers and sellers to gain access to networking tools - for instance, placing the home on an MLS (multiple listing service), which is how other agents will know it is for sale. That's not something you can just plug yourself into having passed an exam, you would need to either become an employee of a real estate agency, or start one yourself. No one will want to hire you for one sale, and starting an agency is adding a level of complexity and cost that will quickly rule out any advantage you may hope to gain. Effectively, you can't just choose to be a real estate agent on your own, completely independently, for one single deal without plugging yourself into the established "machine" that Realtors operate under.

And, to be blunt, the fact that you're asking such a basic thing calls into question your confidence in being able to pass the licensing exam, which is not trivial.

Homeowners who want to avoid paying a commission to an agent to help them sell their home typically choose to sell the home FSBO (For Sale By Owner). There are many resources on the web that would support you doing so if you google for them.

Of course, selling your current home FSBO doesn't mean you're incurring zero commission cost, since buyers will often bring their own agent into the deal, and they will want to include some sort of negotiation for paying them, since they're missing out on the typical commission arrangements. Even if that payment is not explicitly part of your sales contract, it is typically factored into the buyer's financial decision making (i.e. if they are paying it themselves).

Further, when you go to buy your new home, there is essentially no way for you, as a buyer, to force any random seller to abandon their selling agent (and hence their share of the commission). Even if you do succeed in becoming an agent yourself, you will likely not be able to avoid paying the seller's agent for your new home (and if you become an employee of an established agency, the agency is going to take a cut for your portion of the commission, so your "savings" will likely be closer to a quarter of the commission than half).

  • 5
    the asker is planning to take exam, he/she has not taken the exam, so it is incorrect to say basic thing calls into question your confidence in being able to pass the licensing exam, which is not trivial I guess the asker is looking for the role of Broker or will he/she need a broker or being an Agent be sufficient?
    – Neil
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 16:40
  • 7
    I've down voted because this reads as hostile. The posted wasn't asking if you think becoming an agent was feasible, rather if they are likely to save half the commission or if they should become a broker. It almost feels like your an estate agent worried about losing this business! Maybe restructuring your answer would read a little less aggressive? Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 1:10
  • 4
    But what about just the buying part? Even without a license can you represent yourself and ask for the buying agent's cut, which may be 1/2 of the 6%? You could offer the asking price and save 3% right there.
    – user12515
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 0:55
  • 2
    It sounds like you're worried you'll be out of a job if more people start taking the agent exam, like the original poster.
    – Will
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 17:41
  • Doesn't answer the question...
    – None
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:04

Unless your jurisdiction requires a realtor, I think that it's a bit of overkill to become a realtor in order to save the commissions involved. There's a financial as well as time cost to become a realtor and apart from that, you can do it yourself.

I've bought and sold several homes myself. When selling, I did my due diligence and figured out what the comps were for similar homes. I put the word out (For Sale by Buyer led to a lot of traffic from buyers looking for a lower price) and when a committed buyer showed up, we worked out all of the details and wrote up the framework of a contract. To make sure that everything was legit, I submitted that to my lawyer for review and after working out the bugs (if any), the counterparty and I reviewed the contact and then signed it. I then used a title agency to handle the transfer of title.

It's been awhile since I did this but in all cases, the total cost was well under $1,000 (lawyer, title agency, doc stamps and miscellaneous county/state fees) and the buyer and seller each paid half. The only variance that I recall was when a buyer wanted to have his lawyer review the contract and that modest cost was also split. Of the 4 homes that I sold, three had buyers within a few weeks and then went to contract in less than 3 weeks. The only one that dragged out longer was an out of state property.

Worse comes to worse, if you can't sell your home yourself in a reasonable amount of time, say 1-3 months, you can always revert to Plan B-ecome realtor or Plan C use a realtor.

  • Are there any jurisdictions that require a realtor? Commented May 28, 2020 at 2:21

first, ignore anyone here questioning whether you can be a real estate agent. For years I worked for a state government agency that licensed agents, and all it took was 40 hours and a test. RE agents had the lowest requirements of all the licenses we issued. In comparison, a cosmetologist or barber had to take about 500 hours of schooling. Any Joe can get a real estate license. Now actually being a good realtor takes work, but acquiring the license is a very low bar.

Secondly, without know what state you are in, we cannot answer the question effectively. In Massachusetts for instance, a real estate salesperson must work under a broker, and you can't become a broker until you've been a salesperson for 3 years. That's not going to help you.

You don't need to become a realtor to get your house listed on MLS. There are flat fee MLS listing companies out there that charge 1% or 1.5% commission if you don't want to go 100% For Sale By Owner. Google your state and "flat fee MLS" and you should find them.

Also remember, when you sell, you will still have to pay the Buyer's agent fee of about 3%.

  • 6
    1% commission is not flat fee. Flat fee would be, say, $995 fee to list on MLS, regardless of the price of the house.
    – stannius
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 16:04
  • Low fee, then. And if that's all you want from the agent, it's a valid suggestion.
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 15:48

I would strongly discourage it. You could find a 'limited service' broker to list your house on the MLS and put on a lock box for about $500 and then the other agents would deal with you directly. You would then pay them if they found you a buyer (usually 3% and you would have to pay this if you had your license too).

I got my license in the year 2003 when I wanted to sell 4 properties. It was well worth it because the licensing requirements at the time allowed me to become a broker of my own business so I didn't have to pay a boss. Now it is required to work for some other broker for 2 years so you should check that first. If you have to work for another broker for 2 years he/she will not let you do it free most likely. For example, most agents pay about $450/transaction or 50% to their boss. If you add that to the license and Realtor fees you would pay to get your license you would probably still save money but may not be worth your time. Realtor fees (local, state, national) and MLS fees are about $2000 a year and the License requires ongoing education of about 40 hours every 3 years.

But you would have that going forward and maybe you could sell someone else's house and make a commission. You would also have access to the MLS data which is better than public sites which could help you find a better deal.

Never mind the people who say that Realtors bring a lot more than just their license, that's bullcrap. All they (we that is, I'm still one) do is list it on the MLS, put on a lockbox and wait for the offers to be emailed to us.

I would be surprised if you could just take a test and get your license. Most jurisdictions require specific education requirements and then still require you to work for someone else. If your state isn't like that the trend is that it soon will be. This may be another reason to do it, before you lose the opportunity.


It is always worth it to go through the schooling to become educated as a realtor. Even if you never buy or sell a home for yourself! At least you will have the knowledge about the "machine" and general real estate knowledge. It certainly never hurts to educate oneself especially when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line. I will be selling my home for just over $850k in the next 6 months and will be repurchasing another one in the $900k range. If I am even able to save 1.5% on that amount of money it will be worth the effort. Big deal...the test is difficult? There are pre-tests that help you study for the test. Y'all aren't becoming Air Traffic Controllers. Study, pass, save.

  • And if he is successfull, he can find a new professional hobby and start makong money out of that license.
    – None
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:06

It could vary by location, but my experience and recollection are that sellers usually pay agent fees. So the larger part of your numbers ($30K) wouldn't be an issue.

To the selling of your current property, consult a lawyer / state laws, but as Dugan alludes there typically aren't rules that require you to have a real estate agent.

If you use the same agent to sell your current property and to assist in finding the new, some will reduce or waive some fees.

You may also want to consider that there are on-line services that claim to offer all the services of a real estate agent at a fraction of the cost. The name escapes me, but I recall one advertising total fees of two percent.

All in all, when considering whether to handle the sale yourself, there are a number of trade-offs in saving that $12K and what your inexperience may cost you:

  • How much extra time will it take you and what is your time worth?
  • Will you be able to negotiate the best price? If not subtract the difference from the $12K.
  • Will it take you longer to sell on your own?
    • Financially, if you have a mortgage, it's more time paying to the bank.
    • Emotionally, keeping the place showable and waiting for moving on can be taxing.

I think you mean to say what is the role of the Broker? To be honest I don't know the answer, but certainly with home price rising 3% for seller Agent and 3% to buying Agent does not make sense.

Look at SFO area, for selling part you can do Sell by Owner, but when you are buying, the sellers some time do not understand that if buyer does not have agent, it saves her/him about 3% and the seller should give some discount, so going as your own agent when buying and then getting that 3% will save( earn) you a lot.

  • Why is it downvoted?
    – None
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:08

If you can pass the exam, its' worth it to just get a licensee. Don't listen to anyone else on here. Obviously, by you asking this question you are indicating that you have the potential to be licensed agent in your state. What real estate agents don't seem to comprehend is that people can research everything and pinpoint tings. What agents actual provide is time to research, cultivate personal choices. If you can do those, you're fine. For example. I got my licensee in 2021, bought a home in 2022 that i searched for myself, spent about $900 realistically total with my fees, real estate class fees etc. I collected $1900 after I paid all my other fees when I purchased a home. Short run, yes, just do it, you wont' pay for anything in those dumb real estate fees. But, if you're someone that wants to have someone do the leg work for you, then no, don't do it.

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