How Real Estate Agents Work

There is a lot of confusion about what an agent does, who they work for and how they get paid.  Let me take a minute and explain.

In the State of Illinois, a Real Estate Broker is someone licensed to help people buy and sell real estate.  This broker has a fiduciary duty to their clients which includes:


  • Confidentiality

  • Accountability (money and documents)

  • Loyalty

  • Obedience

  • Disclosure

  • Reasonable Skill and Care


This means that a broker puts their client’s interests before their own.


In Illinois, a home seller can be represented in one of two ways – either with a single or dual agent.  A single agent only represents the seller and does everything to promote that Seller’s interests.  This is the highest form of representation that an agent can give to their client.  A dual agent represents both the Buyer and Seller in the same transaction.  I DO NOT practice Dual Agency and WILL NOT represent both parties to the same transaction. 


Agents are paid on commission, usually a percentage of the sale amount.  When an agent takes a listing, the seller agrees to pay the listing agent some amount.  When the listing agent puts the home into the MLS system, they offer a portion of that money to any other agent who can find a buyer for that home.  When a sale closes, the money is distributed between the selling and buying firms and then the firms pay those agents involved in the transaction.


As a home seller, the amount you will pay is in the listing agreement you will sign, but you should always confirm how much of that will be shared with the other firm who represents the Buyer.  This percentage can have a big impact on the marketing and sale of your home.