It can be a difficult conversation for many and it doesn’t help when CEA does not fix the rate or even provide a guideline but leaving it to market forces.
In this page, let us look at the various resources you could refer to justify and secure your income.
PropNex Commission Guidelines
Another good read is this article by 99.co.
In particular, it has an excellent summary of how commission are paid/shared for a lease that is above or below $3,500/month and when it’s 1 or 2-year lease.
One of the most common question I get from both clients and associates is – can give discount?
Sure the rates are always negotiable but before you readily agree to halve your fees or even absorb the GST, let me share with you the importance of profit margin and you can decide for yourself.
My first response to anyone asking for a discount is to explain to them the concept of cobroking in our industry.
In most cases, we get more calls/messages from agents than direct buyers and typically, they expect a cobroke fee no less than 1%.
When our commission is not even 2%, we will not be able to offer them what they want and surely there are agents out there who are prepared to accept less for the benefit of their clients but this also means that we are effectively closing our doors on agents who might have qualified buyers on hand and will not accept anything less than 1%.
This doesn’t mean we won’t be able to achieve the seller’s expectation anymore, it’s just that by excluding these agents, we have a smaller pool of buyers to work on and that might prolong the entire sale process resulting in higher marketing cost and less than happy clients.
Imagine you’re a seller, would you recommend your agent to another person if they took a long time to sell your place?
Most sellers assume that since agents only post an ad on PropertyGuru so our business cost is relatively low and therefore we should be able to offer some discount.
They do not understand that PropertyGuru is an expensive platform and besides the annual subscription fee that could cost up to $11,980 a year, there are additional ad credits needed to repost, boost, spotlight etc.
Running an ad could cost as low as 1 ad credit for the entire month if an agent simply just post once.
Or it could incur more than 500 ad credits for a boosted ad to be reposted at least once a day.
Assuming cost per ad credit is $1, how many agents are still prepared to spend $500+ per month on just one listing and we have not considered other factors such as time and effort, virtual tour, homestaging, video production etc.
It is no fault of consumers that they are under the impression that agent’s marketing cost is low. We need to let them know that we do not want to cut corners by reducing the ad exposure because we agree to a lower fee.
Another aspect of our business that not all consumers are aware is that we do not get to keep the full sum paid by the customer.
The 7% GST goes to IRAS. Up to 30% goes to the agency and the balance amount which is usually paid to us many months later are also subjected to Income Tax. So the net amount we get to keep after deducting our marketing cost is nothing like the amount that was agreed in the CEA form or written on the final cheque.
No CPF Contributions & Medical Benefits
Lastly, as self employed, we do not enjoy any medical or leave benefits.
Not only we do not receive the 17% employer’s CPF contribution, we still need to top up the Medisave account ourselves else we will not be able to renew our license with CEA.
Possibly The Only Trade That Works For Free
A doctor gets paid even if the patient is not cured.
A lawyer gets paid even if the client gets convicted.
A hawker gets paid even if the food taste horrible and the list of people getting paid whether they get the job done or not goes on.
However, being a real estate agent, we could be working for months and if we can’t get the property sold/leased, we do not get any reimbursement.
Sometimes, it is not even within our control such as sellers decide to withdraw from sale or buyers unable to secure loan.
What we can learn from this pandemic is that some of the biggest names can also go into red and even bankruptcy within a few quarters.
So before you just smile and accept a lower fee for your next deal, do your best to demonstrate your value to your client and share with them the truth behind our business model.