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The Buyer Or Seller: Who Really Should Pay Estate Agents Fee?

The Real Estate sector has become lucrative and it is contributing in its own way to curbing unemployment in Nigeria. There are different levels of people involved in Real Estate business, but there is a particular set of people in the industry who are not without controversy, as regards who pays them or should pay them. These people are the Estate Agents.

An Estate Agent is a person or business that arranges the selling, renting or management of properties, and other buildings. An agent that specializes in renting is often called a letting or management agent. Estate agents are mainly engaged in the marketing of property available for sale and a solicitor is used to prepare the legal documents.

At every point there are always people searching for specific types of properties to buy or lease/let, and whatever they are seeking for is definitely available somewhere. The job of an estate agent is to connect these two groups together for a fee or a portion of the fees popularly called ‘agency fees’.

This brings us to the controversy; who really is responsible for this “agency fees”?

In trying to make things clear, this article will make some juxtapositions between how it is done in other countries and how it is done in Nigeria.

In the United Kingdom, Estate agents who handle letting of commercial property normally charge (the owner of the property) a fee of 7 to 10% of the first year’s rent, plus the first month’s rent. If two agents are charging 10%, they will split the fee between them. Estate agents selling commercial property (known as investment agents) typically charge 1% of the sales price.

The fees charged by residential letting agents vary, depending on whether the agent manages the property or simply procures new tenants. Charges to prospective tenants can vary from zero to £300 in non-refundable fees usually described as “Application”, “Administration” or “Processing” fees (or all three). There are no guidance for letting agents on charges, except that they are forbidden by law to charge a fee for a list of properties. Otherwise, they are free to charge as they please.

In many other parts of the world, the seller, in return for bringing a buyer to the table, agrees to pay a commission to the agent. Typically, this fee is represented as a percentage of the sales price and could also be shared between the listing agent and the agent who brings the buyer, in cases where two agents are involved.

In Nigeria, the buyer pays the agent fee after paying the seller of the property. This has always left a lot of buyers disgruntled as they do not understand why an agent fee has to be paid, when the seller ought to be the one paying his agent.

According to homebuying.com:

It can be argued and, quite rightfully so, that the buyer always pays the commission. Why? Because it’s typically part of the sales price. If the seller did not sign an agreement to pay a commission, the sales price might have been lowered. And there lies the appeal of buying homes through unrepresented sellers because, given the same logic, those prices should show a net sales price without a commission. But those sellers haven’t quite figured this out yet which causes potential buyers of those listings to be consistently disappointed.

You have a further information to share? Please leave comments below.


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  3. When does a realtor get paid his fees when he sales his property in Nigeria? $150,000 has been paid to the owner from the selling agent to the realtor. A balance is owed for $50,000. Money was paid for a friend of mine to occupy the house. The seller wants his Commission now. He’s threatening me with legal actions. I’m an American dealing with this. What rights do I have?

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    • I will like to understand a few things first, is the seller same as the owner. If the seller in the second instance is the agent that represents the owner, he should be paid at least 40% of the agreed agency fee pending when the balance of $50,000 is made

  4. When does a realtor get paid his fees when he sales his property in Nigeria?

  5. This should be reported. The AEAN or Indeed LASRETRAD. Both can handle such complaint.

  6. Please who ever wrote this should correct the very erroneous impression that the buyer pays the fee.

    There are always two sides the seller and buyer. The seller principally pays the fee to his selling agent. Where however the buyer has an agent then the buyer pays that agent. Where the buyer has no agent and the seller has an agent then the seller pays his own agent and not the buyer.

    Gbenga Ismail
    Ismail and Partners

    Association of Estates Agent of Nigeria (AEAN).

    • Thank you Mr Gbenga,

      Your Association has a lot to do in ensuring high standard of professional ethics and sanitizing the sector.
      There are many dubious Agents out there hiding under the ignorance of some unsuspecting buyers.

      I had an experience a couple of weeks ago. I saw a property I was interested in. I was directed to the selling Agent even though I can get it directly from the seller (owner). After an agreement has been reached about the sale, he later requested for a commission, meanwhile, the owner of the property is also paying him but he insisted he must be paid by both the seller and the buyer. That was the end of the deal. I’m sure the story would have changed if I was using my Agent as well. I wondered what I would be paying for since I didn’t engaged him to represent me.

      Mr Gbenga, please what do you do when you come across such people as a buyer?

      Thank you?

      • Mr. Afolabi,

        You have done the right thing to walk away.
        Walking away is one of the important real estate investment rules.

        As a real estate enthusiast and business person, I believe that if a buyer engages the service of an agent to source for a property, then the buyer is under obligation to pay an agree fee for that service depending on how the agent conducts business and deliver value.

        Also, if a seller engages an agent to source for a buyer or sell a property then the seller is also obliged to pay the agent.

        A case in mind that recently happened where in the sellers agent got way more than what I got as a buyer’s agent (it was a case of familiarity). Agents try to balance such scenarios out by asking for consideration from the other party, I asked for a consideraion politely from the seller’s agent given all the work I did but I got a polite NO. And I simply walked away peacefully.
        Plus I am still in good terms with the Seller’s party.

        Life goes on.

    • Good afternoon Gbenga ismail,
      About your post, Does it applies to a property for sale, for rent, or both please?

    • Thank you Mr. Gbenga please as the secretary of the
      Association of Estates Agent of Nigeria (AEAN) what’s your responsibility or where do you come in when a seller refused to pay the agency fee after the payment is made by the buyer and the agreement is signed.

      • Dear Davies,

        First and foremost, the agent to the seller would have demanded a power of attorney from the seller before selling his property. Even though the terms and conditions in every Power of attorney differs.

        With the Power of Attorney the seller’s agent can take the seller to court if the seller refuses to pay him his agency fees as stated in the power of attorney.

        But without the power of attorney, it is a bad case for the seller’s agent to recover his unpaid agency fees.

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  9. Well, Thank you, But really, The commission suppose to be shared by both the buyer of the property and the seller. This is to reduce the financial burden from only one party. (My thought though!!!)

    However, In Nigeria here, commission is usually paid by the buyer of the property. Commission is only paid by the property owner when there is a renewal of house/property rented.

    Thank you!

  10. Those the buyer of a property pay agency fee to his agent ?

  11. A agent through his platform got a buyer for my clients property.
    Ideally,he gets his commission from buyer he brought in to buy the property.he his now also demanding agency fee from seller. He wants to take all 10% to himself. Is this right? What deal is acceptable?
    Thank you

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