The way we buy and sell homes in the U.S. isn’t normal — at least not compared with the rest of the world. From a report: The commission on a home sale here is typically around 5% to 6%, usually split between the seller’s and buyer’s agents. In most countries, the commissions are substantially smaller. The U.S. is home to as many as three million agents. By most estimates, no other country is even a close second.
Though it is unclear how much a court decision on commissions last month will upend American real estate, if at all, the ruling opens up the possibility of forever changing how agents are paid for their work. And looking at home sales around the world offers a window into what could be in store. One reason commissions here remain high is the use of buyer agents, said Ryan Tomasello, managing director at investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Home sellers pay the commission — typically between 5% and 6% of a home’s selling price — which is usually split between the seller’s and buyer’s agent. Buyer agents aren’t nearly as common in other parts of the world, said Tomasello.
[…] In the pre-internet days, a buyer agent’s main job was to screen and filter listings for hopeful home buyers. Today, much of that early house hunting can be done online. So the role of the buyer agent has shifted more to providing advice and support, as well as recommendations for home inspectors, lenders and lawyers. A good buyer agent will know how to make a strong offer and may push to lower the home price. In most countries, buyer agents are much less of a factor.