Commissions fall worldwide, but remain high in U.S.

Survey: U.S. real estate fees are highest among wealthy countries
  • Commissions remain higher in the U.S. than in any other wealthy country, according to a new study.
  • Conducted by a low-fee brokerage, the study was an update of a 2002 study conducted by independent economists.
  • The research suggests that the internet can drive down commissions.

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In Sweden, homeowners typically paid a commission rate of 1.5 percent to sell a home in 2015, down from 5 percent in 2002. Their Canadian counterparts spent 3 percent last year, less than the 4.5 percent they forked over in 2002.  And the Germans? They shelled out 4.0 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in 2002. But what about Americans? They’re still ponying up significantly more than other wealthy countries, typically paying 5.5 percent, down from 6 percent in 2002. That’s according to an update of a 2002 study released by Seattle-based, low-fee brokerage Surefield. Surefield has every interest in convincing consumers that they overpay agents, so it may be tempting to dismiss the study out of hand. But there are still at least three reasons to be aware of it: The Wall Street Journal has covered the study, so don’t be surprised if a potential client brings it up. It builds on another widely-cited study that was conducted by economists, not...