Real Estate Commissions: Everything You Need To Know

Published by Mohamed Konate | Updated Feb 25, 2022
Real Estate Commissions
Real Estate Commissions

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Home prices across Canada are skyrocketing. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), the national average home sale reached $661,788 in July 2021. With homes selling in larger volumes and at higher prices across the country, homeowners considering buying or selling are curious about fees associated with this expensive transaction. In home sales, the largest fee is the real estate commission cost. Know how much you are really paying real estate agents, how their fees work and how to negotiate lower fees by the end of this article.


What are real estate commissions?


Real estate commissions are the fees sellers of property in Canada pay to their real estate agents. The fee is paid to the agent used to list the property and the agent used by the buyers of the property. How this commission is split between the sale agent and buying agent can vary but is often split evenly. Commissions can be a percentage of the sale, a flat fee, fees for services, or some combination of fees. Sellers and buyers of property should always confirm the commission arrangements with there agents prior to placing an offer or listing a property. Commissions are costly fees. They go towards the agents and then a cut goes to the brokerages each agent works with. Luckily if a property does not sell, no commission fees are paid out.


How does real estate commission work in Canada?


Most commonly in Canada, real estate agents earn a commission percentage rate of the total sale of a property. This can vary widely by each agent and in each province. Commission rates of 3% to 7% can be common. In Canada, real estate agents and brokerages set their own commission rates. More recently, some agents and agencies are offering flat fees or fees for services, to reduce the cost to homeowners.

While it is the property seller who pays the commission fees to both the buying and selling agent, the money is coming from the buyer. Both the seller and the buyer should be informed on commissions.

Once a sale is finalized, commissions come out of the sale and are not added on as an additional charge. Any associated tax for the services provided would also come out of the sale of the property on top of the commission itself. This tax depends on which province the sale has occurred in.

As an example, a property in Ontario is sold for $871,606. If there is a fixed commission of 6% (3% to each agent), the commission would be $52,296.36. When you add 13% HST, it becomes $59,094.89.

It is important to be aware of other costs associated with buying or selling a home. There are legal fees, mortgage fees, inspection fees, and other fees to be aware of. Sellers generally have less fees than buyers, but both should be informed. Commissions are easily the largest fees.

These are the common commissions and payment structures for real estate agents in Canada:

Ø A fixed percentage of home sale: This percentage can be anywhere from 3% to 7%. It would stay the same if a property sold for $100,000 or $1 million. This is the most common commission structure agents use.

Ø A split percentage of home sale: The percentage of commission will change depending on the sale price of a property. Agents will offer a 3% commission on the first $600,000 and take a lower 2.5% on anything over $600,000. This would result in lower overall fees to the seller.

Ø A flat fee: An agent who offers a flat fee commission will work for a fixed price to sell a home regardless if it sells for $350,000 or $3.5 million.

Ø A fee for service: With this payment structure, agents are paid for the work they do directly. This could be a flat fee or an hourly rate. Some of the work could be listing and marketing, hosting open houses, and designing and printing brochures.

Ø Any combination of the above: Real estate agent fees can be costly. As a result, new payment structures are constantly emerging to save sellers money while ensuring agents get paid for their work.


How much is real estate commission?


Real estate commissions can be a costly fee for the sale of a home. In Canada, there is not a fixed structure or commission rate. There are common practices of fixed commission rates of 3% to 7%, however these are not set. Each agent and brokerage choose their own rate and commission structure. As prices rise, flat rates are becoming more popular with sellers. They offer more transparent and upfront costs while minimizing the actual fees paid out. If you are selling your home, real estate agents want your business, and you need their services. If one agents commission seems too high for you, ask for a discount. Not every agent will offer a lower rate, but you are free to take your business to another agent who offers you services you need at a cost you feel is reasonable.

British Columbia and Ontario are currently the hottest markets in Canadian real estate. Keep reading for the common practices for real estate commission in each of these real estate hotspots.


How much is real estate commission in BC?


British Columbia is a hotspot for real estate, especially the Greater Vancouver area, which has homes selling on average at $1,175,500. Commissions vary across the province and average around 3% to 7%. BC has long used a split percentage of home sale commission rate. In other words, the buying and selling agent agree to share approximately 6% to 8% commission off the first $100,000 and between 1% to 4% commission on anything over $100,000. Split percentage commissions will be more common in the Greater Vancouver Area and Kelowna but are not surprising to see across the province. Another thing unique to BC is the selling agent generally earns more of the commission than the buying agent. While commissions and splits are always different, a 55%/45% split between the two agents is not uncommon. Sales tax in BC are at 12%, so do not forget to add that to the commission and subtract it from your total sale price.


How much is real estate commission in Ontario?


Ontario is another hotspot for real estate, especially in the Greater Toronto Area which has homes selling on average at $1,054,300. Commissions vary across the province and average around 3% to 7%. Like the rest of Canada, each agent still sets their own commission rates and commission structure. Ontario real estate agents typically use the fixed percentage of home sale commission rate. If they do a split commission rate, they can only offer decreasing percentages after the initial tier. Buying and selling agents typically split commissions evenly at 50%/50%. Harmonized sale tax in Ontario is 13%, so do not forget to add that to the commission and subtract it from your total sale.


Selling your home


It is a big decision to sell your home, and you typically come to the decision because you want access to your equity or a different lifestyle. Maximize your earnings on the sale of your home by negotiating commission rates and shopping around for agents. 

Author Bio

Mohamed Konate

Mohamed Konate is a personal finance expert, blogger, and marketing consultant based out of Toronto. He is a former financial services professional who worked for many years at major Canadian financial institutions where he managed the marketing strategy around various financial products ranging from credit cards to lines of credit. Mohamed is passionate about personal finance and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Quebec (Montreal) and a Master in International Business from the University of Sherbrooke (Quebec).He is also the author of the Canadian Credit Card Guidebook.

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