How To Calculate Real Estate Commission In 4 Easy Steps

Real estate agents typically earn about 6% commission on a sale, which can be a substantial amount depending on the property’s selling price. 

Your agents must receive the correct commission fee from your brokerage, especially since research indicates that 44% of employees would consider leaving a company due to incorrect payment.

Haphazard commission calculations and reporting often stem from underestimating the process or not knowing how to accurately calculate splits, fees, royalties, and taxes. 

Understanding how to accurately calculate real estate commissions is crucial for keeping your agents happy and motivated.

Whether you have just started your brokerage or you’re looking to improve how your office generates and manages real estate commissions, this article is for you. 

We’ll cover some best practices for calculating broker and real estate agent commissions that will help keep the business growing and your agents happy. 

Key Terms You Need to Know:

Selling price: This is the final amount that a property sells for, which could differ from the listing price.
Commission percentage: This is the percentage of the selling price that goes to the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. This is typically a 50/50 split.
Agent commission rate: This is the percentage of the real estate commission that your agents receive.
Agent fees: These are fees that real estate agents may be required to pay the brokerage to cover various costs.

What Is a Real Estate Agent Commission Model? 

Many real estate agents and brokers are independent contractors who earn a living based only on the commission they generate from a final sale price. 

For your real estate agents, the prospect of earning higher commissions is a powerful incentive to encourage them to deliver their best work.

The commission model helps real estate agents to: 

  • Cultivate a pipeline of prospective buyers and sellers.
  • Determine how to position real estate to increase value. 
  • Determine other actions that can improve their earnings and increase brokerage revenues.

Commission-based compensation motivates entrepreneurial-minded real estate agents to put their utmost into each deal, knowing that their hard work will directly result in greater earnings.

However, a commission percentage model can seem difficult to manage compared to regular salaries. 

This is because you have to learn how to calculate commission based on the transaction value of every sale instead of paying your staff a fixed amount each pay period. 

Think of commission as a piece of the pie. This portion should be carved into additional smaller slices that reflect the fees, taxes, credits, and other amounts owed to various stakeholders. 

Frequently changing commission calculations can make determining final net payables even more complicated, often resulting in a frustrating process that may impede company growth.

Although it may seem challenging, the real estate commission calculation process can be simple and accurate with the right tools. We’ll discuss these later in this article.

4 Steps to Calculate Real Estate Commission

Follow these steps to calculate real estate commission so that you can pay your agents and all other parties correctly: 

1. Calculate the total commission on a sale

The first step to calculating the final net payables for each real estate agent is to determine the total commission to be shared. 

Typically, realtors make 6% of the total selling price, and this money is deducted from the funds received by the seller. 

Unless your brokerage represents both the buyer and seller, the gross commission is split between brokerages. Typically commission is split 50/50 between the buyer agents and the seller agents.

Often, if the commission is 6% of the sale, the buying and selling agents would each get 3%. As commissions are negotiable, this rate may vary. 

For example, if your brokerage represents the buyer and seller, the total commission is often lower, as one brokerage will receive the full fee. 

There may be other situations where a seller’s agent negotiates a lower fee. 

Here’s an example of a 3% real estate commission earned on a sale price of $799,950: 

2. Account for off-the-top fees

There may be other stakeholders with a claim to some of the monies earned as part of the commission and listing agreement. 

For example, if your brokerage is part of a larger organization, you might need to pay franchise or royalty fees. You may also have to cover referral fees to another brokerage when necessary.

To accurately calculate everyone’s share, it’s necessary to account for these fees that come off the top of the total commission, as it will affect the remaining share. 

For example, on our $23,998.50 gross commission, we need to account for a 7% franchise fee. 

The amount of commission left to be split between the brokerage and the listing agent would be $22,318.60:

3. Calculate the commission split with your real estate agent

Once you have identified the commission plan and the total gross commission for a transaction, you can easily calculate the gross commission for the real estate agent and the brokerage.

For example, on our distributable commission of $22,318.60 and an 80/20 commission split, the brokerage will keep $4,463.27, and the agent will earn $17,854.88:

4. Don’t forget about other fees

The final step is to account for other fees that should be charged to the agent and collected by the brokerage. 

This can include errors and omissions insurance (E&O), transaction management fees, or even marketing fees. 

In some cases, fees may be charged to the agent and paid to other entities, such as professional photographers, independent transaction coordinators, or the client. 

You may also need to account for funds collected from the buyer or seller and paid to the brokerage or agent. 

Be wary of any client fees. They can cause calculation and reporting errors if handled incorrectly. 

For example, your agent may owe a transaction fee of $99, an E&O fee of $50, and a marketing fee of $195—all paid to the brokerage:

Defining Your Commission Plans

Just like traditional employers negotiate salaries before finalizing an employment agreement with a new hire, you’ll need to establish and agree upon a commission structure and split with any new real estate agent you recruit. 

The commission split refers to how you divide the commission earned by your brokerage on a real estate transaction with your real estate agents.

The entire commission plan will likely describe more than just one set split. 

This means you will have to understand different commission tiers and lead sources. You’ll also have to consider in which situations you would offer your agents a higher or lower cut. 

It’s also important to think about the other fees that are included, such as E&O or transaction management fees. 

This split ratio would be applied to any sales agents working for the real estate broker. 

The share of the commission reflects both the value your firm provides to your real estate agent, including office space, supplies, transaction support, and more, as well as the agent’s contribution and value in driving your business forward. 

Agents who have reliable track records of sales and high-value client pipelines are typically able to negotiate better splits than those who are starting out.

Not all real estate compensation models are based on a single defined split. 

For example, some agents keep 100% of the commission earned on a gross sales price and pay the brokerage a set ongoing fee, similar to paying rent. This would cover the real estate agent’s share of the brokerage costs. 

3 Common Types of Commission Structures to Consider

As mentioned above, it’s important to have a clear commission structure in place for your brokerage. Here are three common models you can use within your business: 

Tiered real estate commission

In this structure, an agent receives a varying percentage of the total commission, which is determined by their earnings within a specific period.

This may motivate agents to close more deals as they’ll receive more commission when they do.

It’s worth noting that this structure can become complex because the amount of commission your brokerage pays to agents may change over time.

A flat-fee model

Under this commission model, your real estate agents earn the full commission from a sale and subsequently pay a monthly fee to your brokerage that remains constant regardless of how many deals they close.

Team split commission

In this model, the real estate commission is split between everyone who has worked on closing the deal rather than the full amount going to the agent.

Although this split would mean that agents take home less commission initially, it means that the team can close more deals together.

Mistakes to Avoid When Calculating Real Estate Commission

Now that you know how to calculate real estate commission, let’s look at some mistakes to avoid when doing so:

Using cumbersome spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are a helpful tool if you’re running a small brokerage with a limited number of agents. However, as your team grows, your spreadsheet system can quickly become overly complex and cumbersome.

Relying on spreadsheets for handling extensive commission-related data can complicate the process of locating and reviewing individual records, increasing the likelihood of errors.

An alternative to spreadsheets is commission management software that can calculate commissions automatically with just a few clicks. 

With Paperless Pipeline, it doesn’t matter what your commission structure is, the tool can calculate accurate amounts in seconds.

Errors from manual calculations

Trying to calculate commissions manually and then entering them into a spreadsheet may result in major inaccuracies.

Errors can be costly to your brokerage if each party receives the incorrect commission amount, and it can result in dissatisfied agents. 

Having inconsistent or complex commission structures can quickly lead to incorrect calculations. Your commission structure should be clear, and all parties involved should agree to the structure you’ve chosen.

Lack of automation

Calculating commissions manually can be time-consuming and complex. As mentioned earlier, it can also lead to errors. To avoid this, you need to simplify your commission calculations.

Automation tools like Paperless Pipeline can help you calculate your commissions on autopilot and keep everyone on your team updated with real time income statements.

Automating this aspect of your business means you don’t have to spend time trying to calculate commissions yourself and it leaves less room for error.

Try Out Our Real Estate Commission Calculator

To retain and motivate agents in the competitive real estate market, you need to ensure they receive the right commissions for every deal.

Our free real estate commission calculator will help you determine what you should be paying your agents.

You can use the tool to calculate split, tiered, and flat-fee commission structures.

Use Tools to Automate Calculations, Forecast Commissions, and Track Production

Manually calculating commissions is a recipe for disaster if you get something wrong. Luckily, there are tools to simplify this process, giving you peace of mind that everything’s been handled correctly.

For example, an end-to-end transaction management system can keep track of every individual agent’s specific split and apply the right percentage automatically to their transactions.

Paperless Pipeline allows real estate brokers, admins, and transaction coordinators to accurately calculate commission splits and any other agent fees at the click of a button. 

You’ll be able to access breakdowns like these with our real estate commission module: 

The software also allows you to generate income reports and forecasts easily. This helps everyone on your team track how they are progressing toward their income goals, which is an important way of keeping agents motivated.

Ready to Simplify Your Commissions Calculations?

Paperless Pipeline is a purpose-built tool designed to help brokerages manage their transactions more effectively while remaining compliant and audit-ready.

Our commission module also makes it easy for you to calculate commissions and gives your real estate agents access to their income information.

Visit our website to try Paperless Pipeline for free. You’ll discover why our software is used to close over 23,000 transactions each month and how it can assist you in automating and streamlining the real estate commission process.