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Who Pays Real Estate Commissions in Washington, the Buyer or Seller?

Sammamish Mortgage
June 3, 2018
Last updated:
September 10, 2021
Who Pays Real Estate Commissions in Washington the Buyer or Seller
In This Article

Who pays the real estate agent commissions in Washington State, the buyer or the seller? This is a common question among first-time buyers and sellers alike.

Here’s the short answer: In Washington, as in most states across the country, it is usually the seller who pays both of the agent commissions. It’s typically done at closing, with the funds coming out of the seller’s proceeds. But it’s all negotiable.

Who Pays Real Estate Agent Fees in Washington?

Real estate is a commission-based business. That means the buyer and seller agents typically get paid a certain percentage of the sale price. Though there are some flat-fee real estate services, the percentage model is the traditional and most common type of real estate commission structure.

The number of real estate commissions in Washington State is not set by law. That is, the government does not mandate or require a specific amount for agent commissions. It’s more a matter of custom. And 6% is a customary amount for many transactions. In a typical transaction, that amount gets split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agent.

So, who pays real estate agent commissions in Washington State? It’s usually the seller who pays these fees. In a typical home sale transaction, the seller will pay the Realtor fees at closing, out of the proceeds (or money earned) from the sale. That’s usually how it works, but there are variations.

It’s Written Into the Paperwork

Like most things in the real estate world, all of this is negotiable. For the home seller, the amount of the commission and other pertinent details are usually included within the listing agreement. This is an agreement the seller signs with his/her real estate agent. The buyers will typically sign a similar agreement with their agent. So that’s how the amount is set.

As for who pays the real estate commissions, this can be specified within the real estate purchase agreement (or “contract”) that gets signed by both buyer and seller. In fact, the purchase agreement may simply refer to the individual agent/client agreements signed by both buyer and seller for the specific details.

Related: Home buying process in Washington

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What Do Buyer and Seller Agents Do for Their Clients?

The exact services provided by a Washington real estate agent can vary based on (A) the details of the transaction and (B) any agreements made between the client and the agent. Here’s an overview of the most common services and actions provided by real estate professionals in Washington:

The Seller’s Agent

This person is also referred to as the listing agent since he or she will actually list the home on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other websites.

Common services include:

  • Help establish a reasonable asking price based on current market conditions.
  • List the home on the MLS, and possibly other sites like and Zillow.
  • Receive offers from buyers (typically via the buyer’s agent) and relay them to the seller.
  • Help the seller evaluate and assess each offer that comes in.
  • Negotiate the price and other aspects of the sale with the buyer.
  • Attend the home inspection and/or appraisal as a representative of the seller.
  • Ensure that all paperwork is completed for the closing process.

The Buyer’s Agent

The buyer’s real estate agent will typically spend a lot of time showing properties to the client. But that’s not all they do.

Here are some of the common tasks performed by a buyer agent in Washington:

  • Help the buyer narrow down the type of home, price range, neighborhood, etc.
  • Generate a list of homes that meet the buyer’s criteria, using the MLS and other resources.
  • Tour homes with the client to provide info about the property and neighborhood.
  • Evaluate the seller’s asking price based on current market conditions.
  • Put together an offer including any comparable sales data (or “comps”).
  • Negotiate with the seller and/or listing agent to determine a mutually agreeable sale price.
  • Attend the home inspection and (sometimes) the appraisal as a buyer representative.
  • Ensure that all paperwork is completed for the closing process.

In closing, it’s usually the seller who pays the real estate agent commissions in Washington State. The commission often gets split between buyer and seller agents and is paid at closing. And almost everything is negotiable!

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Sammamish Mortgage is a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. We serve the entire state, as well as the broader Pacific Northwest region including Oregon, Colorado, and Idaho. We offer several mortgage programs for you to choose from. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions.

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