As the broker for over 235 Realtors/Investors, I hear about it when an agent thinks they are about to lose their commissions. I take these concerns seriously and advocate for my agents and their rightfully earned fees. However, there are some things you can do to help avoid someone trying to skirt their contractual obligation to you and some things you can do to make sure your Broker is better equipped to fight for that recovery.

First, show your value to your client. When a client sees and hears what you are doing for them it is a lot more difficult for them to justify, in their minds, that you don’t deserve the commission they agreed to pay. You can start immediately at the first meeting and explain to them some of the services you provide & their value:

  1. MLS market statistics that are only available to licensed Realtors and not cheaply!
  2. Knowledge of sales process and required disclosures…they could find themselves in hot water if they fail to perform actions by a certain date or neglect to provide required disclosures.
  3. Ability to reach the broadest audience of buyers via MLS listing and syndication.
  4. Security. Someone to watch out for their best interests and removing the risk of attracting someone with bad intentions with a FSBO sign.
  5. If you are a StepStone agent, then the added network and knowledge of how creative and/or investor offers work.

Second, make sure the client understands their rights and responsibilities.

  1. Explain the commission rate, what an “exclusive right to sell” is and make sure they understand you get paid even if they find a buyer themselves.
  2. Educate them on what to do should a buyer, other agent or other party attempts to contact or negotiate with them directly. Ensure they know to direct EVERYTHING through you and they should never sign anything outside of your direction.
  3. Let them know that if they have concerns with your representation that they should bring it up sooner than later.  Make sure they understand that claiming you didn’t do your job as a reason to not pay you after they have signed a contract will not hold water and you will pursue a commission.

Next, do your job right. Nothing is more frustrating to me when trying to secure an agents commission when I discover they made an error in their paperwork. Don’t get sloppy, ever. If you do, it’s Murphy’s Law that that’s the one that will come to haunt you later.

  1. Properly execute a representation agreement. Make sure it’s signed and dated by both parties with all blanks filled in.
  2. Uphold the requirements placed on you in the rep agreement. Don’t delay in listing on the MLS unless the agreement says otherwise. If it says otherwise, make sure you stay on that date or amend if necessary.
  3. Provide an Information About Brokerage Services and have signed.  Don’t forget to get one from the other party to the contract if they are not represented.  
  4. Get amendments signed. Don’t just make changes based on a verbal or email correspondence.
  5. Stay engaged. Don’t let them have the excuse that you didn’t do anything. Even if there is nothing to be done still reach out to the client with updates.

If you’ve got yourself a slippery fish and think that your client is trying to side step their obligation to pay a commission, take these steps.

  1. Reach out to your Broker right away.
  2. Advise any and all parties you are aware of that you have a listing agreement.
  3. Consider recording a Memorandum of Listing Contract with the County. (Consult with your broker, first! There could be legal ramifications for this action).

If you are a StepStone Agent, then know that I have your back and will fight for you! Follow this advice and I’ll have a much stronger case to make when the time comes!