Realtor Commission Fees
Dear Island Ed and Alexandra,
If I have any motive at all it's for readers of this message board to consider the source when reading your posts.
For instance, Alexandra (a realtor) said STX real estate is basically insulated from the mainland. I'd like some factual proof. Because here on the mainland the market was good until 3 months ago. If STX is insulated then tell me what the market on STX been doing in the past 3 months so we can compare? And when Alexandra follows her answer with "It's not just my opinion, it's factual data." it does not actually make it true. You still need to produce the data. Ed (in the mortgage business) said "I don't know what I am talking about", Alexandra said "STX is very hot" and "don't expect any price reductions here anytime soon". Feel free to discount my knowledge but please pull the recent MLS data so we can have a factual discussion.
Another realtor on STX said in last months newsletter "asking prices are increasing faster than selling prices". I feel like this possibly has to do with the previously mentioned idea that "Realtors do somewhat drive property pricing" mentioned by Alexandra. Perhaps it's the realtor spin without the facts that misleads people?
By the way, I personally think realtors work hard. And Alexandra is only working within the commission structure that exists. It's basically a slow moving industry standard. Certainly not her fault.
What buyers and sellers deserve is a tough investigation of realtor practices. Representing both sides of a transaction, price-fixing, and other anti-competitive practices are the norm in real estate. Why is it tolerated?
They should start with the public officals. Everyone IS effected by them. When that mess is cleaned up, then move on to othres.
When you say readers should "consider the source", and that source is a known respected member of the real estate community, your either are implying the source is intent on deceiving the reader and has an ulterior motive, or you suggest the source is not knowledgeable about the real estate market, and more importantly the VI real estate market. Either way, it betrays that you don't know what you are talking about. I'm confident that should Alexandra, or any other realtor, want to take time to feed you "factual data" from the MLS, and assuming you could actually understand the data, you would appreciate Alexandra's comments and realize her position as a knowleageable, ethical, and well repected member of the VI community.
Tell us please what your knowledge base and experience is to make your comments (produce the data), or are they just uninformed opinions?
skim off the top - the $$ you say go to your Realtor actually get split four different ways, as previously discussed, so no ONE Realtor is getting the amount all to himself.
In your example saying that Realtors should only share in profits and not get a flat percentage, what then happens when a market is stagnant and values aren't appreciating? There are no profits for Realtors to share in. Are they then supposed to work extra hard to find a buyer in a dead market and then not get paid since there are no profits to share? That is what would not be right!
And how do you determine the actual profits? Are Realtors to rely on sellers records of $$ they have spent on renovations, etc. for the home to determine the basis for the seller's investment versus the profit? You will need to do a lot more work on your idea before it would be practical to apply, much less "fair".
You object to paying realty fees, but do you also plan to withhold the government's fees for stamps on the deed for the property transfer? How about mortgage broker fees? Should they also not get paid? And appraisers and inspectors?
At least sellers DO have the option of selling FSBO and doing the realty work themselves if they need to save some $$ on their sale. The other costs aren't ones they can choose to forego.
Real estate investors know from the get-go what the costs of selling a home will include. They can factor that into their decision to purchase and also into their decision about when will be the right time to sell their property. Selling within two years of purchasing is usually a bad idea, as most market don't appreciate fast enough to leave room for seller profits within just two years. If you take your example house and wait two more years and the appreciation rate is the same, the seller will receive the majority of the additional increase and will have a very tidy profit. Timing is second only to Location in real estate transactions.
There are buyers on the mainland that are sitting on mortgage timebombs. They bought with little or no money down, took a low interst option ARM mortgage that is now hitting the 10% negative amortization cap, and payments are being recast before their first interest adjustment is due and their payments are 1 1/2 to 2x higher. They still have a hard prepayment penalty and they owe 10% more than the home is worth! Are these the sellers you are talking about? If their lender put them under a bus, how do you think a realtor is going to help them now? By "participating" in their poor financing decision that put them upsidedown? You are kidding, right?
As far as your example... what is the problem? You MADE A PROFIT but you don't want to pay the cost of creating that profit? You don't get it either. No one "skimmed" your profit. Your profit is what you keep after you pay the costs of owning real estate. Some of these costs are regular monthly expenses (P&I if you have a mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, upgrades, etc.), and some are one time expenses (realtor commissions) you need to pay to realize that gain. You have options to avoid some of these expenses, such as selling it yourself. If you CAN'Tdo that, why complain about paying someone who CAN?! If you don't want a realtor to make more in commissions than you net after the sale, hold the property longer and pay the mortgage down as the value appreciates more. At some point you wil get the bigger check... feel better?
One other thing. If your example suggests you did not put any of your own money into the purchase, yet you made $23,000 dollars in 2 years, you have NO ROOM to complain. Maybe the mortgage company should "participate" in the PROFIT you made since you had no skin in the game.
Common Sense - I have no doubt that the Realtor who wrote in a newsletter that listing prices are increasing faster than selling prices is correct. That was bound to happen in a rapidly appreciating market, especially during this time of the year. That isn't necessarily due to Realtors, however. In the end, it is the Seller who sets the listing price for his home. The market has been booming enough that sellers are aware of the rate of increase that has been occurring and many of them are inflating their asking prices in hopes of making some extra profits on their sales. At the same time, we have been in the "off season" for tourism for about six months and the real estate market definitely has sales price trends that follow the rise and fall of the tourist season.
For example, although sales have been strong all year around, more of the higher priced homes sell during the months of December through April. Low to mid-price buyers shop for homes all year around. From December 1st through April 30th this past year, 17 homes priced higher than $800K sold on St. Croix, 14 of which were priced higher than $1M. From May to present, only 8 homes priced higher than $800K have gone under contract, only 4 of which were priced higher than $1M.
Sellers are still increasing their listing prices, but we have been in the period of the year when the upper tier of the market is more stagnant... and that brings down the average selling price in the data. So what the Realtor reported about listing vs selling prices is correct and it isn't hard to figure out the logic of WHY that is occurring. Partly due to sellers jumping on the bandwagon and hoping to make some extra profits and partly due to the natural flow of our yearly sales cycle and what time of year different price ranges sell the best.
The MLS does not collect data about the age of buyers or their reasons for purchasing in the USVI, so data cannot be produced from the MLS to show you those things. However, I work with many buyers and talk to other Realtors everyday who work with hundreds more. We share information and discuss what we are seeing in the market. It is commonly reported that well over half the buyers coming into the USVI are at or near retirement age and are seeking either a final retirement home or a winter vacation home. Many have cash to make the purchase or are selling another vacation home to purchase one here.
The slowdown in mainland housing sales has been reported by many sources as being due to the rising interest rates, the unemployment rate, and the inability of buyers in the 20-50 age range to sell their current home and "buy up" as was being done so much the past decade or more with the low interest rates. The driving force behind the mainland slowdown is a different driving force than what we have buying up the properties in the USVI. The baby boomers coming to the islands have $$ and are not as affected by the rising interest rates as the younger generations who do not yet have the accumulated assets of the retirees. The baby boomers are going to retire and a chunk of them are looking to the islands as a better option for their "place in the sun" than Florida and Arizona. I tend to think of the baby boomer retirement/relocation that is starting to occur as a force of nature that just isn't going to be totally denied. You can dam up some routes to retirement and other routes will appear. There is also going to be spillover the top of the dam when you have the quantity of potential buyers that we are talking about. So if you want data, go look at the data about the sheer quantity of baby boomers that are out there and look at history to see what that "force of nature" has done through the years. They have been behind every trend and financial rise and fall since they were born. It's not that hard to prognosticate their likely next move in life as being towards retirement.
Then we have the additional complication in that there is virtually no new construction going up on St. Croix to feed the increasing demand for homes and condos. Supply and Demand is another factor in the rising prices.
Two years ago there were more than 250 houses actively listed on St. Croix. Today there are 167 listings, some of which are already under contract. We've had a similar decline in inventory for condos and vacant land. Our condo data has been skewed slightly by the condominiumization of the Ocean Terrace apartments, that have added more than 50 condos to the MLS. Comparing the quantity of condo listings without the Ocean Terrace property, there has been a serious decline in quantity of properties on the market. Sales have far outstripped new listings.
Prices had been stagnant on St. Croix for many years prior to the recent increase in buying activity. The market was due for an adjustment and that is largely what occurred during 2005. Selling prices aren't likely to increase quite as dramatically in the near future, but they also aren't likely to drop back to 2004 levels.
THAT is just Common Sense!
I appreciate you taking the time to explain your opinion with some factual information. Thank you. There is a big difference between a realtor simply saying the market is "very hot" versus stating some factual data accompanied by the sentence, "Selling prices aren't likely to increase quite as dramatically in the near future, but they also aren't likely to drop back to 2004 levels." For me, a logical and factual explanation helps me understand more clearly, and gives the realtor much more credibility.
Again, could you please tell me the STX MLS data for last 3 months as compared to the previous year's 3 month period? I do understand the seasonal cycles.
(p.s. Island Ed, you really should get off your high horse. Telling me and other posters "we don't know what we are talking about" only serves to degrade us. Or perhaps that was your intention. You'll have to excuse me then, I never meant to question Alexandra's integrity. I don't. All I asked for and reminded people was to get the facts. Last time I checked it's still a free country, so I'll continue to ask for the facts to support any salespersons opinion, whether they sell cars, stocks, real estate, politics or even mortgages.)
First off let me say that I am a realtor- not realator- or whatever- in the Midwest. We have not had quite the housing bubble that the coasts have had. I have been sitting at a new homes community for six months now and have received only 3 paychecks. And they have been at 1.5% and are now being split with another partner. My office gets the other 1.5% for marketing fees and the complete other 3% if there is no co-op. What some of you don't realize is that we do get customers that will go completely thru a 6 month build job - while only putting down 1-3%- and then we have them walk away. Guess what- no paycheck again. And most of the time these are buyers that have been the biggest pain in the A##. We are basically customer service reps for all of our builders- we get screamed at for things that are not our fault quite regularly. The people that think we are overpaid for what we do could not do this for a living. Go ahead and sell for sale by owner- miss all the weekends staying home to show your home. Let strangers with no representation or guarantees stroll thru your home. And how do you know thatyou are getting the best price for your home? Based on what your neighbor told you when he sold his home? Yeah- like he is going to tell you the truth about his bottom dollar. I just had a clown come and write a contract for a $206k home and he offered $185k and seller paids of $5k. The home was just finished the week before. The builder would have had to bring money to the table.!! But guess what- this guy had heard that the market was so tough that he could offer $20K-$30K less and any builder would jump all over it. All of you mis-informed people are really screwing up a lot of other peoples days...In the new homes market almost every client I have worked with has hated their agent or myself while getting into their "over-priced piece of junk" home. These are also the people that call me when they sell and want to get a 15% appreciation per year price for that "piece of junk" home. Get real people. And the cutting of commissions started with a starving realtor or broker that probably didn't want to earn the whole 6-7%. With the market being so tough maybe it is time to start raising commissions. Then we can see how long it takes a Fsbo to sell in this "hot" market. Sorry to rant and I know this has nothing to do with real estate on island but it struck me wrong.
Common Sense - I am always happy and willing to explain fully my reasoning behind statements I make. There have been requests at times for posts to be kept short and simple and when I try to do that then I get blasted for not providing enough explanation. It's a catch-22.
We have discussed this topic on the board many times and it seems pretty well documented that the influx of new retirees is responsible for much of the increase in sales volume. It didn't seem irresponsible for me to now use shorthand and say that the market is hot without rehashing the entire reasoning behind it or proving the numbers. Another factor in stating that the market is hot is that the time on market for new listings has been dramatically reduced from what it was for years and there are often multiple offers made on new listings within a short period of time, sometimes within hours of them hitting the MLS. To me, that is a very hot market.
From June 1, 2005 to October 31, 2005, there were 69 houses that went under contract and eventually closed. From June 1, 2006 to present, there are 104 houses that went under contract. Some have already closed and some are still pending. There may be a few deals that fall apart prior to closing, but the majority will close, so we have nearly half again as many sales during the past 5 months of "off season" than the prior year. And 2005 was seen as an enormous sales upsurge. Quantity-wise, there were 73 sales in 2003 and 75 sales in 2004 during the same period... but the prices went up in 2005 and have been continuing to climb.
For the same searches on condo sales data we get 69 new sales in 2006, 99 sales in 2005, 68 in 2004 and 60 in 2003. The summer of 2005 was phenominally frantic for condo sales. The slowdown in 2006 for condo sales in the same period is largely due to the doubled prices at most complexes coupled with less inventory at some of the more desired properties. I have hopeful buyers waiting and watching for new listings at a couple of complexes where there are no current listings. Others are a bit disgruntled that they missed the chance to buy in at the low end of the market a year ago. Some have been priced out by the increases.
KCKid - I feel your pain. I've been there. I prefer working with buyers in the USVI because a greater percentage of them are more likely to actually follow through, as well as being more fun throughout the process. The way commissions get split among so many different Realtors in a transaction often means that the person or two who did the bulk of the work aren't getting an equitable share of the compensation. (This is true in corporate America, as well, when one team member does all the work while another tries to take the credit and may even get paid at a higher rate. Standard gripe regardless of industry.) There is no question that brokers with many agents working at their companies make a killing off the backs and labor of their agents, often without taking any role whatsoever in the transaction. It's all part of the business. It does at least give agents something to shoot for in the future if they have an interest in opening their own brokerage someday.
It is common for sellers to resent paying the real estate commission they contract to pay when they list a property. They are usually eager to get their property listed and agree that the percentage is fair, but at closing the final number looks big on the balance sheet. I know I had one property I listed and sold in the past year where the seller had thought his house might be worth about $300K - $325K when he asked me to list it. I told him that we could get somewhere from $550K to $600K for the house, which had him agog at the thought. It sold at $575K to a buyer I found and the seller then threw a fit wanting me to cut the commission in half. This on a property where I brought him a buyer willing to pay $250K MORE than the seller even thought his house was worth.
So I don't think it is actually greedy of Realtors to make a commission rate somewhere in the ballpark of 6% of the total purchase price split amongst the people who bring a transaction together and get it closed. We don't increase our percentage rate if we bring in an offer higher than the listing price. It's simply a cost of selling that any seller can know up front and determine if it's worth it for him to sell his property. It has been common in the past 18 months that the market analyses I do for property owners come in higher than the owners thought they would. Many sellers can pay the entire realty commission out of the overage compared to what they had thought a buyer might pay. Not all markets have the kind of activity we've had recently and ours will vary over time. Investors should be rejoicing in their great fortune in the equity increases they've made, not feeling angry because their Realtor might have shared slightly in the rising market. For properties that have doubled in value, Realtors haven't taken half of the increase when a property re-sells. We just continue to split the approximately 6% that is paid as a commission and sellers keep the very large remainder. Any seller who wants to exchange their typical 90% of the profits(after all closing costs, including realty commissions) for my portion of the 6% is invited to come and talk to me! lol
Based on your posts, I don't trust you can understand the data Alexandra is so politely providing you (spelling it out with big wooden blocks with letters on them I might ad). Sorry if I seem harsh, but you are just an anonymous poster who came out of the gate with derogatory comments about realtor "spin" and improper motives, which is pure NONSENSE not Common Sense. We can support what we say, can you? Am I on my high horse, or are you just talking out your a$$? Provide some data about yourself so we know we aren't wasting time with a troll.
Common Sense - Ed does make a valid point about your initial posting to this thread. You didn't ask me any questions or ask for me to support my comments regarding real estate. You instead stated absolutely that my post was my personal biased opinion and not fact. You didn't just question my motives, you stated that they were impure... and without anything to support your claims. Where was your data? Certainly not from this website where many of the buyers I have worked with have given testimonials far more glowing that I could have imagined.
I know my own motivations when answering questions and reporting on activity in the real estate market on St. Croix, and those motives are remarkably altruistic, no matter what people who don't know me suspect them to be. I suppose that many of the people who post a flaming attack against me without ever having met or worked with me maybe are tarring me with the brush that is more appropriate to use upon themselves. I don't do what I do solely for my own gain. I feel myself extremely fortunate to be able to help others and keep my family supported in the progress. I like win-win situations.
By hiding your identity behind an anomymous flaming post, your own motives appear to be impure. If you are a regular poster to this website, as seems likely, then I would welcome you to ask me questions openly in the future so we can have a simple and honest discussion. If something I post strikes you as being improper or unsupported, it should be possible for you to make your point politely. As I said in my last post, I am always happy to provide whatever explanation and/or data might be necessary to clarify something that may not be obvious to you. If our conversation changes my own viewpoint on a subject, I don't mind that, either, as we all grow through interaction and the exchange of thoughts.
And all this out of a simple request for information on whether there are Realtors in the islands who ever list properties for less than the typical 6%. Well, I do in certain situations. Others do as well.
Alexandra, you are always nicer than me... sometimes too nice... even when you are chastizing some troll! LOL Remember what my mother told me.
Alexandra and Island Ed,
If you read my original post it is not a "flame" at all. It was a call for factual information. And a reminder that realtors sell real estate. It was a very simple request. I certainly did not mean to hurt anyone's feelings. I appreciated the data you provided Alexandra.
Why Island Ed feels the need to make me out to be a troll, call me names, say I am dumb, and that I have ulterior motives makes me glad I remained anonymous.
You two have a nice day. Sorry for any trouble. From now on I'll look elsewhere for my real estate information.
I figure that with all of the hours that you put in to your profession, and if you figured what you typically make per year, you have wasted a lot of money needlessly defending yourself to this troll.
And if you figured what HE thinks you make, it's a HUGE ammount of money.
Read it all, common sense has none. Will be STX next wk looking for a place. Already discussed with an agent. Thanks for info, I would use Alexandra but already arranged mtgs with another.
Get your facts straight Common Sense. I NEVER said you had ulterior motives!
However, grounded in the matter of observing your posts here, I did apply a common descriptive word (troll) used in chat rooms to express the quality and character of your posts, not you as a person. Terry is right, trolls commonly waste peoples time with idiotic posts. Now, as you please, take your "data" and go play under someone elses bridge.
I read all your postings with great interest on the subject. I believe this whole discourse got started by someone asking about discount brokers. I suggest you go to http://www.ftc.gov/ and read the articles pertaining to Federal Trade Commission's recent decision regarding MLS services. Essentially, MLS will now be required to allow less than full fee listings in MLS. This FTC decision will certainly impact all areas and eventually even the USVI will have to allow discount brokers to list in MLS if they are not allowed currently.
Of course that is not to say that traditional brokers (for the sake of argument 6% brokers) have to show properties listed by these discount brokers but that is another matter entirely.
I found it interesting no one asked how 6% was originally determined to be standard "set" fee throughout much of the United States. How do this "standard" ever get started anyway? Why wasn't it 5% or 8% for that matter?
Someone also stated profit to the seller was basically full price less real estate fee. Not quite true - often the seller pays all of the transfer fee which on my listing will be 3%. In addition, there are all those other nasty closing charges which probably add another 1% . So, I'm not saying 6% is right or wrong but what I am saying by the time the seller pulls away from the title table he has paid 10% of the top not 6%.
By the way congratulations on St. Croix sales, I know it has been a long had battle over the past few years. But the important thing for you as a broker is the "shoe clerks" got out a long time ago when the sledding got tough. Now it will take sometime for part time agents to again gear up and flood your market.
However, the "hot" markets of St. Croix and St. Thomas are entirely different from St. John. As a seller I am constantly looking at MLS and transaction history. Thus far average selling prices from 2005 are down 13% and by projecting actual closings through September for year end 2006 it looks like the number of closings will be down 24% for the year as compared to 2005.
Now a logical question I would have as an broker/agent is how can I get my listings and/or sales up for 2007 and feed my family? Being a discount broker to this guy (sorry and/or lady) that didn't close much in 2006 would look pretty tempting don't you think? I really enjoyed your heated discussion and this board. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you.
Hi STJ Seller,
What data did you use to come up with 10%? Just kidding! LOL
You make some very good observations, and i enloyed your comments. If any residential market in the VI can be argued to allow a negotiated lower fee, it seems to be STJ where the prices are stratospheric compared to STX. The general verbal feedback (no data) I get from realtors is the buyers considering STJ, while LOVING it, are concerned about the value for their money, and simply... affordability. As you said, it is not the same market even with in the VI, and there are fewer potential buyers for STJ properties in the world.
Did you know you can also pay 3-6% of the buyer's lenders fees with some loans? Many sellers will start at a higher price and include many of the buyers expenses on their side of the HUD1, as long as it appraises high enough. In rising markets, it usually can come in at the needed value. If not, then the negotiations begin again.
The six percent is interesting. I remember when it was 7% in the midwest. Also, think about the lower fees a commercial transaction can bear, even if the value is the same as some of the larger residential properties here.
Alot has to do with the differences in the type of buyers, and the type of appraisals.
While the historicals for STJ look dismal, keep in mind the total real numbers of transactions that are represented in the percentages. It doesn't take too many transactions to change them significantly.
Nice to meet you on the board.
I hate posts like this. I have been watching the USVI real estate market for 20 years and it is indeed in one of it's "up" periods.
When people attack each other on this forum, it ruins it for the rest of us. I have been reading Alexandra's posts here since the day she signed on. She is an asset with her energy and willingness to share her ideas. I hope she keeps it up. The person who posts as "island ed" has a history of personal attacks and name calling. We could do without his attitude.
It is important to respect different opinions without the put downs and name calling.
I won't even get into my "opinion" as to where the USVI real estate market is going.
Have a warm and happy day
Common Sense - I think perhaps you should take a minute to go back and read your own inital post to this conversation thread. You definitely did not make any request for information. You didn't ask a single question. My comments WERE based on factual information from the start, even if pages and pages of back-up data were not included in the simple comments in my first couple of posts. You stated that my comments were my own personal biased opinions and not based on any facts. You were incorrect in your statement. How can I not find it inappropriate for you to make a definitive statement in the manner that you did that so blatantly attempts to cast negative feelings in my direction? I think that the vast majority of board members wouldn't find it inappropriate for me to say that the STX real estate market is hot at this point in time. Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the activity level in the market is well aware of that. You seem to have been looking for a reason to make a negative attack and probably posted without thinking things through. But why the negative attack in the first place? Presumably it has to do with who you really are when you're not hiding behind an anonymous alias.
Yes, CS, realtors do sell real estate. I think anyone with the brain wattage to manage to work a computer and find this website is aware that realtors sell real estate. But the fact that I do work professionally in the real estate industry should have been your first clue that statements I make that characterize the current market are likely to be based on fact and professional experience. There would be no point in me saying that the market is in a vastly different state than it really is. Data isn't a national secret and the general public is aware of the trends in the market.
Terry - I'm not defending myself. I don't see the need for that. I'm very comfortable with who I am personally and profressionally. But I don't mind interacting in discourse on the topic of real estate because there are always other people reading posts who need the information even this type of conversation brings to light along the way. CS need not worry that my feelings are hurt. He/she isn't someone whose opinion of me has any foundation in reality, so it's not one I have any reason to value.
Talking about real estate is fun. Talking about SCUBA would be fun, too.
dino - I wish you the very best of luck in finding a property that suits your needs. It's a tough market right now in that there isn't a whole lot to choose from. There are still some good properties, you just don't have as many choices to ponder. I hope you come back to post your success once you find the right place. Welcome to STX.
stxer - I wouldn't mind hearing your opinion on where the real estate market is heading. I have a couple of different trains of thought on it's future myself. It depends a lot on whether any new development gets underway in the near future or if the current development plans get quashed before they can become a reality. Two divergent paths, so rather different likely outcomes.
Dear Island Ed
Yep, St. John is definitely overpriced so is Palm Springs, Aspen and the French Riviera. But a certain core group will do anything to live on this high profile island regardless of price and I don't really see why. No Kmart, MC Donalds, poor police, roads are steep and scary. At this time there are over 40 homes priced at $2M or more, but only 8 have sold this year. The problem with St. John has a lot to do with the cost of land and of course construction. You see on St. John contractors, electricians, plumbers and whatever trade you require can basically name there own price as they are so busy working multiple jobs. For example, when I built my spec house the electrical contractor was working sixteen jobs at the same time. He was not the exception but the norm. Concrete is nearly impossible to get for any reasonable delivery date and I understand it is now a floating rate of $160 to $200 per yard depending on when you can get it.
Basically per square foot costs range from $300/ft for individuals that supervise there own jobs to over $600/ft for those that just turn the General Contractor loose.
But still did not get an answer to my question maybe know one can determine where the 6% ever came from - guess it was just floated and everyone agreed - Hay, 6% sounds good?
By the way I am now in Colorado ski country which is my home and it is SNOWING!
It sounds like you are an investor. PM me from your cozy den with a fireplace, as I have something I would like you to see (not an investment).
From my experience, the 6% commission is a "standard" only in that it has typically settled there for a significant period of time. Real estate commissions have always been negotiable (and still are), but the market pressures have not until now been pushing them lower. I think the internet (companies can have lower overhead), and generally higher prices, have moved to put pressure on the 6% fee, and we will see it erode, but not so much in the VI market. The VI is a unique market, and there is not enough volume of transactions to afford any real downward movement. Also, remember this is a small community and the realtors will not easily let their base commission rate slip, nor a competitive discounter get traction.
It amazes me that a lawyer can win a civil suit and take 33%... no complaints about skimming profit? There are many, many professions that make much more than 6%.