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Who pays the buyer's agent commission in an off market, wholesale transaction?

Buyers Pay Buyer's Agent Commission In Off Market Deals

Unlike on-market MLS transactions where the seller pays the buyer's agent commission (typically 2.5% - 3%), the standard in off market and wholesale real estate transactions is for the the buyer to pay their agent's commission.

There are a few reasons why buyers pay their buyer's agent commission:

The Deal Is Not Priced For The Seller To Pay A Buyer's Agent

Most off market deals for investment properties -- properties in poor condition, distressed sellers, leased rentals -- are not priced with the expectation that the seller or wholesaler will be paying a buyer's agent's commission. Why? Because most off market deals do not involve buyer's agents who ask for the seller to pay their commission. Off market deals either do not involve a buyer's agent at all, or they involve an investor-friendly buyer's agent who understands that in an off market transaction their client (the buyer) pays their commission.

If you want the seller to pay your commission, then add your commission on top by increasing your offer price.

Avoid Unnecessary Friction

Many single family and small multifamily investors deal direct and do not have agent representation. Asking a seller or a wholesaler to figure out how to pay the buyer's agent commission is an added complexifier and reduces the chance the agent-represented buyer will have their offer accepted.

Buyer's Agent Off Market Faceplam Moments

Aside from the commission component, agents who do not have off market deal experience are known to add significant friction to the deal. One example is pushing back when the wholesaler's contract specifies a title company but the agent wants to try to change the title company. 🤦

Another example is when the agent gets upset that the wholesaler is making more on the deal than they are, and then tries to reduce the wholesaler's assignment fee. This is not the way to get your client a new property. 🤦‍♀️

The most cringeworthy example is perhaps when the buyer's agent contacts the seller or wholesaler and asks if they pay buyer's agent commission and then tells them that their commission is 4% (standard agent commission is 2 - 3% off market and on market). Going one step further, when they are told that they should have their buyer pay their commission or add it to their client's offer price, they steer their client away from the deal. This is an incredibly common occurrence and fascinating exposé of the failings of the current agency model and rampant breach of fiduciary duty. 🤦🏽

A final example is when agents don't understand wholesale real estate and assignment of contract. If this applies to you or your agent, read Wholesale Real Estate 101. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Agents For Flippers Get The Flip Listing

Fix and flip buyers typically have an agreement -- implied or explicit -- with their buyer's agent that the agent will be the listing agent when the rehab is completed and the property is ready to be sold on market. That commission check will be higher, so the agent doesn't need to rock the boat trying to get the seller to pay their commission in the off market deal.

Who Pays Agent Commission On OfferMarket?

Off market listings on the OfferMarket investment property marketplace are designed to accommodate buyer agents. Buyer's agents submit offers directly on the OfferMarket listing and specify how they would like their commission to be paid. To avoid unnecessary friction that can lose the deal for a buyer, it is recommended that the buyer pays the buyer's agent's commission.

In an off market transaction, the buyer is expected to pay their agent for bringing them the deal. But we recognize that it's open for negotiation.

Depending on the seller's motivation, net proceeds sensitivity, and buyer demand for the listing (i.e. multiple competitive offers received), the seller may reject a request from the buyer/buyer's agent for the buyer's agent to be paid by the seller. The seller may request a lower commission, since off market transactions typically have lower commissions to the buyer's agent (2% instead of 2.5% or 3%). The seller may counter offer and request a higher offer price in order for the seller to justify paying the buyer's agent commission.

Buyer Agents That Understand Off Market Listings Add More Value For Their Clients

Off market, wholesale and For Sale By Owner (FSBO) real estate transactions are typically not priced for the seller and assignor (wholesaler) to pay buyer agent commission. Unless the seller explicitly states in their listing that they are offering a 2% or 3% commission to buyer's agents, it should not be expected of the seller and/or assignor to pay the buyer's agent commission for an offer at asking price.

If you're an agent representing a buyer in an off market transaction, there's no need to worry, there's always a way to make the deal work for all parties involved.

The following are the most common arrangements to ensure the buyer's agent is fairly compensated:

  1. Buyer pays their agent a 2% commission (most common for wholesale, distressed properties)
  2. Buyer increases the purchase price in their offer and asks for the seller to pay a 2% to 3% commission (most common for wholesale, distressed properties)
  3. Seller happily accepts offer at asking price and pays fair commission to buyer's agent (most common for FSBO and OfferMarket Exclusive Listings.

Investor-focused buyer's agents are easy to work with and get an off-market deal done quickly. Buyer's agents who are not familiar or experienced with off-market transactions frequently introduce major friction which derails deals and causes unnecessary effort and stress for all parties. If you are an agent representing a buyer in an off-market transaction, it is important that you reset your expectations according to the norms of off-market transactions and adapt to get the deal done for your buyer with terms that work for everyone.