What is a real estate commission split?
The commission split is the fee a brokerage collects from an agent it employs on each real estate transaction. It is typically expressed as a percentage of the gross commission income that the agent receives (i.e., 80%) or as a ratio of what the agent gets versus what the brokerage receives (i.e., 80/20). Some brokerage charge fixed fees, and others have no splits at all.
The commission split also represents the gross margin for the real estate brokerage. This is the total amount of money the brokerage receives after collecting commissions and paying them out to agents after splits.
What are the types of commission splits?
Splits can be fixed or graduated.
- A fixed split is the same regardless of the agent’s gross commission income. For example, a fixed 60/40 split would mean the agent receives 60% of their gross commission income to generate $1,000 in commissions or $1,000,000 in commissions.
- A graduated commission split changes based on the production of the agent. This means an agent has a particular split up to a certain amount of earnings. This split then changes when the agent earns beyond that amount. Typically splits become more favorable to agents as the agent makes more. This is because the brokerage is generating more margin from that agent and wants to retain them. There is less competition for lower-performing agents, and these agents might not generate enough commissions to cover their costs.
What is a commission split cap?
Some brokerages put a cap on commissions. The cap is a fixed dollar amount that the split cannot exceed. This is fundamentally a variation of a graduated commission. The agent’s total payment to the brokerage is lower as a percentage of their earnings once they exceed the cap. But the math can be easier. Often, brokerages offer an 80/20 split with a $16,000 cap.
If an agent earns $100,000 in commissions, they only pay $16,000 to the brokerage implying a 16% split. But if they earned $50,000, they would be below the cap and pay 20%, or $10,000, to the brokerage.
What is the average real estate split?
There is no typical real estate split, and Splits can vary significantly by the brokerage. Here are a few examples:
- Keller Williams commission split: Varies but typically 70/30 with a cap (Source).
- eXp Realty commission split: 80/20 split with $16,000 cap (Source).
- Actual commission split: 85/15 split with a $12,000 cap (Source).
- Fathom Realty commission split: 100/0 split and $450 fee per transaction for the first 12 transactions; $99 per transaction after (Source).
What is the split for Redfin or other modern brokerages?
Many modern brokerages pay their agent’s salaries, so there is no traditional split to the agent. Because Redfin’s revenue cost includes personnel costs, bonuses, and expenses that agents often cover, you can use their gross margin as a shortcut to determine a split-like number. In 2018, Redfin’s gross margin as a percentage of its revenue on real estate services was 28.5% (Source
Therefore, Redfin pays out around 71.5% of its gross commissions to agents and agent-related feeds. While it’s not technically a split, it’s the closest we can get to that calculation.
When is commission splits determined?
Real estate agents negotiate the split with their brokerage when hired.
This is usually part of their independent contractor agreement or ICA. Often the split is renegotiated each year or every few years. There is no negotiation process for some brokerages with standard splits, such as eXp Realty.
What is a 100% commission split?
Some brokerages offer 100/0 splits to agents, and often these brokerages charge steeper monthly fees or per-transaction fees.
This still means the brokerage generates some margins from its agents, but not as a percentage of each transaction.