In what’s become standard practice at a growing number of real estate brokerages, homebuyers and sellers are being asked to pay flat fees of several hundred dollars per transaction on top of the percentage-based commissions they’ve traditionally been assessed.

The fees can come as an unpleasant surprise to consumers, and some have charged that they violate federal law. Many real estate agents don’t like the flat fees, either — in most cases, they don’t receive a cut, and some end up paying them out of their own commissions.

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