Allentown PA Agent Fees

12 Replies

Good morning all, 

I’ll keep this brief. I will be looking at properties in the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton region tomorrow. Agent claims that the total commission paid is 5% of the purchase price, and that the seller pays 2.5-3% of that amount. The buyer is then responsible for the rest (2% to 2.5%). Does anyone know if this is true? He claims that “things are done a little differently here (PA).” I was under the impression seller always pays commission. 
I would appreciate any insight. Thanks all. 

@Jose Centeno I'm not familiar with the Allentown market, but this smells fishy. Especially because of the "things are done differently here" response you received. In 7 years of buying real estate, I've never heard of commissions being split by buyer & seller. I have always known this to be around 6% and paid directly from the seller's proceeds. In any situation like this, your only leverage comes when you can prove otherwise and give yourself more desirable alternatives. That means finding as many other agents in the area as possible who can confirm or deny that arrangement. If they all tell you it's legit, sounds like you're stuck. If not, you either have leverage to push back on your agent, or abandon them altogether. Good luck, and I'm excited to see others with more experience weigh in on this!

@Jose Centeno buying agent can charge an extra fee to the client.  I know a few agents that will not go less than 3% if seller is not willing to pay the buyer must pick up the difference if they want to work with that particular agent.  Is this the standard in a Allentown I don't know.  Call another agent in area or broker to clarify.  Ask the agent "is this your standard becuase you don't work below 2.5% or is this the markets standard?"

I am an agent in Allentown. I'm only going to speak on my personal experience. If the seller refuses to pay the full amount for example 6% to be split between sellers broker and buyer's broker, the agent can request that the buyer pay the buyer agents commission. If you have signed a Buyer's Agency Agreement the fees should be disclosed in writing. 

@Stacey Figueroa thank you. That’s what I was thinking and it would make sense if he (the agent) told me that when submitting an offer for a particular property. (“this seller doesnt want to pay 6%”). But he made a blanket statement as we are lining up multiple showings tomorrow. He just said across the board, that I have to pay him 2-2.5%. Thanks again. 


I told him I don’t feel comfortable agreeing to that fee and that I haven’t found anything or spoken to anyone who can confirm that this fee is somehow “standard.” 

He says that they charge this because they are "the best at what they do" and then dismissed me lol. Keep in mind, all he did was set me up with automated alerts off the MLS, and I personally had to compile a list of properties and send them over to him. Good riddance.

Coming from NYC, I can say things are done a little different here in PA, but not regarding fees. In NYC agents really just help you find a property and the attorneys take over. Out here in PA, people don't use attorneys as much (I did, and always recommend) and the RE agents earn their commission by handling the paperwork at closing and are really the person you mostly deal with. With that said, I have noticed zero difference in the fees (in terms of percentages, $ amounts are way higher in NYC). Having purchased properties in both NYC and PA, as a buyer I have not paid a fee to an agent for any property.

@Jose Centeno

I’ve yet to see or hear of that type of agreement here. Seller pays realtor commission.

Only time I’ve seen different is in Schuylkill Cty, pa. Buyer paid a $300 flat fee, but I’d imagine that’s because the properties are peanuts and agents make tiny commissions.

@Jose Centeno that’s BS. In the United States, seller is expected to pay commissions. It’s a national standard. Don’t put up for that. If a Buyer agent wants to protect their 3% fine - as long as they prove their value it may be worth compensating a small amount to offset a discounted listing. If they are just opening doors and nothing else don’t overpay

@Jose Centeno - most company’s default buyer agency agreements say you will owe x% if the seller isn’t paying it. I’ve been working to help people find homes off market and I’m glad this clause exists to help me clarify that the buyer will pay me if my direct mail / calling / door knocking efforts result in a seller who isn’t willing to pay me out of the negotiated price.

That being said, in almost every market right now, there are 20+ buyers for every available property and I have a lot of potential buyer clients I can’t currently service because they can’t find anything they like that they can get under contract for at a price they’re willing to pay.

Additionally, my default is to set up the auto alert based on buyer criteria and have them send me addresses of properties they've reviewed the pictures of and like. On the MLS platform or Zillow. I try to send specific listings for their attention but buyers usually end up buying something different than what they said they wanted. (I only want an ugly duplex to house hack so I can get sweat equity and then they buy a freshly flipped SFH). So in general, my time spent there is wasted. They're browsing Zillow anyway if they WANT to buy a house. I'd rather spend my time on the flip side - helping determine a fair offer price based on comps, recommending contractors and a scope of work to fix it up, helping them plan an advertising and tenant screening strategy if they're renting it. Every agent has different skills. Some of those skills are mega confidence like I'm worth x so if you don't want to pay that (or to plus me up if the seller is paying less), I don't have time to work for you. For instance, my broker doesn't charge misc fees like $500 to the seller or buyer for transaction management services, but apparently many customers agree pay them.

Admittedly, all in all, if you have a great agent, that person is going to save you way more than their fees. I helped a guy recently negotiate $10,000 off a $180k foreclosure after under contract because of undiscovered items and I’m sure without my guidance he would have accepted it as is as per the contract.