Discount vs. Full-Service Realtor: What’s The Difference?

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If you’re looking to sell your home, then you’ve probably heard the words discount realtor and full-service agents being tossed around in the real estate industry. But what exactly are they? And how different are they from each other?

Selling a home can be a stressful experience for some. It’s essential to gauge a deeper understanding of the services available to help make the whole process easier and better.

Full-service realtor agents provide dedicated, hands-on service throughout your entire sale, helping you price your home accurately, find a buyer quickly, and negotiate an offer that gets you top dollar. Historically, a full-service realtor involves working with a traditional brokerage like RE/MAX or Keller Williams and usually charges a standard 2.5-3% listing fee, which generally translates into a hefty price tag on most home sales.

Discount realtors and brokerages have gained popularity in recent years. These brands typically charge thousands less than traditional agents, making your savings potential huge. But while some discount realtors offer complete services that can be likened to conventional brokerages, others come with service trade-offs that are often significant, thus making this the riskier option.

Although these have been the more common definitions for these two, and we can see differences in the two types, it pays to dive deeper to gain a better understanding that is crucial in your decision-making process.

Full-Service Realtor

A full-service realtor is a real estate agent that handles your home sale from start to finish, from before you list your house on the market to the day you sign your closing papers.

Along the way, they’ll provide all of the services you need to sell your home and take care of the following:

  • A professional home valuation to help you price your home accurately
  • Advice on home staging to attract more buyers
  • High-quality photographs for your listing
  • Advertising for your home on the local multiple listing service (MLS) and home-buying websites like Zillow
  • Organizing and managing open houses for your property
  • Negotiating with buyers on your behalf
  • Assisting with paperwork to help you avoid costly legal liabilities

These services and possibly more add up to more positive attention from buyers, which increases the likelihood your home will sell quickly and for top dollar.

Selling with a full-service realtor from a traditional brokerage typically costs 5–6% of the sale price, which comprises commission fees for the seller’s agent and buyer’s agent.

Listing Agent Commission2.5 – 3%
Buyer’s Agent Commission2.5 – 3%
Total Commission Fees5 – 6%

Discount Realtor

A discount realtor is any real estate agent who charges less than the typical 2.5% to 3% commission that traditional brokerages usually charge. Discount real estate companies come at a variety of different price points and offer varying levels of service:

  • Full-service discount realtors provide the same range of services and support as traditional agents but charge lower rates.
  • Limited-service realtors charge low fees but provide much less support than a full-service agent.

There are two kinds of discount realtors depending on the services they offer, the full-service and the limited-service discount realtors.

Full-service discount realtors

Full-service discount realtors offer a similar range of services and support as agents as traditional brokerages do but charge less than you’d typically pay a full-service agent.

Most nationwide and regional discount realtors charge a 1–2% commission. That’s substantially lower than the standard 2.5–3% listing fee that traditional brokerages usually charge.

For example, on a $500,000 home, selling with a 1% commission realtor could help you keep an extra $5,000 – $8,000 in your pocket!

Home Value1% Commission Savings*
*Compared with a standard 3% listing fee

Full-service discount realtors provide the same essential services you would expect from a full-service traditional realtor, including:

  • A professional home valuation
  • High-quality photography
  • Advertising on the MLS, Zillow, and other real estate websites
  • Open houses and showings as needed
  • Negotiation support
  • Paperwork assistance

The discount brand may also provide premium services like virtual home tours and paid digital marketing. 

Limited-service discount realtors

Limited-service discount realtors offer some, but not all, of the standard services provided by traditional brokerages.

They come at various price points, but they’re rarely a good value for the average home seller.

Many limited-service brands charge à la carte fees for individual services, such as listing your house on the MLS and providing paperwork assistance. The particular costs may look cheap, but they add up quickly — and you have to pay them upfront. Depending on how much support you need, you may not end up saving much working with them compared with a full-service agent.

At a minimum, most of these limited-service discount companies offer an MLS listing and any other services required by law.

Depending on the company, it may add additional services like a professional home valuation, contract assistance, and marketing materials such as flyers or a “for sale” sign. In general, the more benefits the company provides, the more it will cost you.

Limited-service brokerages seldom provide you with a dedicated agent to oversee your sale from start to finish. If you have access to an agent at all, it will likely be via a customer support line — you’ll typically never meet them face-to-face.

Doing your part by researching and finding the best setup that will work for you will pay off in the long run. Some companies offer the suitable range of services you need at a price that doesn’t burn holes in your pocket, delivering results that exceed your expectations. Everhome streamlines the processes to make the process easy and stress-free and help sellers get the best out of their selling experience. Read here about the ten ways Everhome can help you earn top dollars fast.

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