Last week, we asked for your best responses to buyers and sellers when they ask: “Will you cut your commission?” Readers shared how they respond to potential clients and also mentioned some creative workarounds.

Last week, Inman surveyed readers for their best responses to sellers when ask: “Will you cut your commission?”

Many agents have thought long and hard about how to handle this common request. One option, of course, is to simply agree to a reduction in some form. But others want to stick to their guns. Tactics range from the hard “no” to agreeing to reduction, but only in exchange for concessions that buyers and sellers are unlikely to agree to.

Here are some of our favorites. As always, be sure to only use those that apply to the situation at hand and are consistent with your values.

Blame your broker

  • No. I can’t do that! Our company policy is X percent. Any other questions? 

Do you want a pushover? 

  • You are paying for my negotiations skills. My negotiation skills will save you a lot more than you’re trying to save on the commission, and if that does not work for you, I know of many agents who can do it for much less. I can have them interview with you.
  • If I’m willing to cut my own commission, how strongly do you think I’ll be defending the price of you’re home. What would you rather have, a lower commission or a higher net price?

I compete on service, not price

  • If someone you loved was very ill, would you want to leave them in the care of a cheap doctor or one that is paid well because he/she earns their money by providing superior service, i.e. making sure they live and get back to being healthy? For me, as your agent, I am worth the money because I take care of my clients by getting you top dollar for your financial asset. If you discount that, you discount the value I provide, and in turn, discount what you take home.
  • Would you ask your surgeon or criminal defense attorney to cut their commission? Do you want the cheapest Realtor out there to handle the most important purchase of your life?
  • For the sale of your largest asset, would you want to get less expertise, less service, inferior advice or no response? I am paid to give you the best of everything and am not willing to reduce my commission or my services.
  • In my experience, discounts result in diminished service. Which services are you willing to sacrifice for a half of one percent of your sale price?
  • I don’t provide reduced service, so I am unable to reduce my commission. Any other questions?
  • I will not as I am convinced that I offer superior service.
  • I’m sorry. I appreciate you asking, but I am certain at the end of the day that I will be able to net you more money because of how we market your home. You have to focus on what you keep at the end, not what you spend.

Silent treatment

  • Why should I? *silence*

Ask why

  • Why would you want me to cut my commission? (This reader adds: “Let them explain why they are asking, then you have the correct details to respond to. Never answer that question without asking them why.”

Sure, so long as you …

  • Only if you pay up front.
  • I will cut my commission if your home goes under contract in 30 days or less. And to make sure it sells in 30 days or less, here is the price I suggest you list your home. If it goes under contract in more than 30 days my commission will be not be reduced.
  • I offer them a tiered commission structure. They can choose what level of service they want.
  • What part of my service do you want me to cut?
  • What would you like me to eliminate from my marketing plan?
  • Right after we close on your 10 referrals, then I’ll consider it. You have to earn anything I give you, just like I earn my money when I get you to closing.
  • I can work for less money, but I can’t do all of this work for less money.

Show them how you earn (and spend on expenses) their money

  • Let me show you how I earn my commission. (The reader advises: “Then show them a detailed list of activities and services I provide, including picking up the tab for junk/trash removal.”)
  • I just went through the listing process, and you can see how much work goes into that. And you’ve read the market analysis I just provided you, but sure, what do you think is fair? What would you suggest?
  • If the cut in commission is coming after a listing contract is signed and a sales contract has been executed, I would not lower my commission. I have asked “Mr./Mrs. Seller, if you completed a job and did everything you were supposed to do, would you agree to cut your fee?” This obviously works better when you’re working for someone who is in a similar sales role or perhaps a lawyer, builder, etc. If you are negotiating your fee as part of getting a listing agreement, I will typically try to convince them of my value and why I’m worth the fee that I charge. I also have a graph or a one-page diagram of how I use the commissions to pay for my business expenses, referrals, etc. Play it like Apple whereby they make sure people know how good they are before people walk in the door and people pay the price for their products because they know they’re good. Whatever I do, I never put down other realtors or “oversell” myself and make promises I can’t keep. Just being honest will oftentimes get you the job at your price. People ask for discounts on everything and as Jim Camp says in his great negotiating books is to just “Start with No”. If they continue to push for a discount you can then get into a deeper discussion about why you are worth your fee.

Maybe later

  • No. I will not negotiate my fee at this point in time. If we have a collaborative and respectful relationship and at the time at which a sale negotiation is happening, we can talk about how we can accomplish a mutual objective. In the mean time, I expect to earn my fee.

Sure, I will – just accept a low offer

  • Actually, our commission is a percentage and we automatically reduce our commission when you accept an offer below the asking price.

No, but I suppose we could stiff the buyer’s agent?

  • My fee is X. What would you like to pay the buyer’s agent. (This reader adds: “I stress my experience, my marketing plan and company support. I usually don’t have a problem getting what I ask for.”

The hard no

  • No.
  • No. (“It’s a full sentence,” this reader notes)

Editor’s note: These responses were mostly given anonymously and therefore are not attributed to anyone specifically. Responses were also edited for grammar and clarity. Inman doesn’t endorse any specific method, and regulations may vary from state to state. 

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