Conflict, confusion and risk in real estate commissions

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Though the commission-based real estate transaction has been the norm for decades, some real estate professionals are no longer satisfied with a compensation model they feel does not always validate the work they do or take into account clients’ changing needs.

Some agents are looking to monetize services typically offered at no cost to consumers who are not necessarily buying or selling a home, such as counseling on how to deal with a distressed property, lower their property taxes, or increase the value of an underwater home.

Others also think the commission-based structure should be reformed, for the sake of consumers and agents alike, and that it represents an inherent conflict of interest for the agent.

Conflict of interest

Licensed real estate broker and lawyer Marc Holmes, along with fellow lawyer and licensed agent Craig Blackmon, launched WaLaw Realty in the summer of 2009. WaLaw pairs real estate and legal services, offering both for a flat $3,995 fee, most of it due at closing or after six months if for some reason the transaction hasn’t closed.