What’s the Average South Carolina Real Estate Commission Rate?

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Editor’s note: On March 15, 2024, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced a landmark lawsuit settlement that will change the way real estate agent commissions are handled in the future. These changes will “decouple” seller and buyer agent compensation. Industry experts predict that this decoupling will likely lower agent fees and give buyers the ability to negotiate commission amounts directly. Learn more.

Most real estate agents in South Carolina get paid through commissions. Commissions are typically calculated as a percentage of a property’s sale price, though some brokerages will charge a flat fee. The average agent commission rate nationwide is 5.8% of the home sale price, according to HomeLight’s real estate transaction data of thousands of home sales each year. But how does that compare to the average real estate commission rate in South Carolina?

In this post, we’ll help you determine how much commission you might pay on your South Carolina home sale, and what options are available to earn the highest proceeds possible.

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What’s the average real estate commission in South Carolina?

According to Joel Barber, a top South Carolina real estate agent with 18 years of experience, you can expect to pay between 5%-6% in agent commissions when selling a home in the Palmetto State, with some variation based on your location. On a property worth the current statewide median home sale price of $322,980, that amounts to $16,149–$19,379 in commission costs.

Barber says South Carolina’s average commission rate is very similar to the national average. However, the exact percentage you pay depends on what you’re asking your agent to do, their brokerage firm’s structure, and what qualifications they have. Some agents are tied to a commission structure set by their broker, while others might have more flexibility, Barber says.

Using an overall statewide average of 5.5%, here’s a breakdown of how much you might pay in real estate commissions based on what a home sells for in six cities in South Carolina:

South Carolina city  Median home price Typical commission at 5.5%
Charleston $416,700 $22,919
Columbia $264,000 $14,520
Florence $195,700 $10,764
Greenville $318,800 $17,534
Myrtle Beach $374,000 $20,570
Spartanburg $275,700 $15,164

Median home price source: National Association of Realtors 

HomeLight gathers agent commission data from cities throughout the U.S. To see if we have commission rates for your city, try our Agent Commissions Calculator. You might also be interested in our Home Value Estimator.

Still curious about commission rates in South Carolina? Here are the answers to common questions about real estate agent commissions:

Who pays real estate commission fees?

The commission is typically paid by the home seller, and the seller’s agent will then split the commission with the buyer’s agent.

Barber, who has worked with 83% more single-family homes than the average agent in his Myrtle Beach market, explains the exact commission rate is set very early in the process. Once you go through the interview process and select your real estate agent, you’ll formalize your relationship with a listing agreement. That contract will state what commission is due and when.

First, Barber says, you’ll determine the market value for the property together and then decide on a commission structure. From there, your agent will provide you with a net sheet, which shows what is being charged to you as the seller.

“What [we] do is provide a net sheet based on [the commission rate] with other fees, such as the stamps, closing attorney fees, and mortgage balance perhaps, to give the seller an idea of what they’re going to net in their pocket based on that market range of the property’s value,” Barber says.

Curious as to why you’ll be on the hook for the buyer agent’s side as well? That’s to make homebuying more accessible, especially for first-time buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). But the commission will typically be paid from the sale proceeds, so that’s why having an experienced real estate agent that gets you a strong offer is so important.

When is the commission paid?

The real estate commission will automatically be deducted from the sale proceeds at the time of closing. Until then, you won’t owe any money to the real estate agent.

If you’re curious about how much you might make on your home sale after paying commissions and other selling costs, try our Net Proceeds Calculator.

Does the agent get to keep the full commission?

Although the seller pays the entire commission, the listing agent, who is representing the seller in a transaction, doesn’t keep it all. Part of their commission will go toward marketing your property with professional photography, open houses, offline marketing, and more.

Barber emphasizes that it’s important for both you and your real estate agent to be transparent during this process. If you want your agent to do the bare minimum, that’s okay, and the commission should reflect that. If you want your agent to pull out all of the stops to get your home sold, then that should be discussed early on as well.

Most importantly, according to Barber, your agent should be completely truthful about how your commission is used.

“There are no hidden fees, and there should be nothing you’re not aware of,” Barber says.

The commission is also typically split 50/50 with the buyer’s agent to compensate them for bringing a buyer to the sale and coordinating the buy-side of the transaction. Barber says there are no strict rules or laws in South Carolina that dictate how the commission is split, but it’s likely right down the middle. So, around 2.5% to 3% goes to the listing agent, and the other 2.5%-3% goes to the buyer’s agent.

Both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent will then share a percentage of their commission with their sponsoring broker.

These split rates can vary; however, it’s common for the listing agent to give their broker anywhere from 30%-50% of their commission, depending on the agent’s level of experience, their market size, and brokerage agreement.

How is the commission divided between agents?

The commission that’s paid by the seller will typically be split among each agent and the brokerages through which they hang their real estate license. Let’s say you sell your home for $320,000 with a 5.5% commission rate. You pay a commission of $17,600, and each agent has a 70/30 split agreement with their brokerage. Here’s how that might look:

  • Listing agent: $6,160 (70% of their $8,800 commission share)
  • Listing broker: $2,640 (30% of their $8,800 commission share)
  • Buyer’s agent: $6,160 (70% of their $8,800 commission share)
  • Buyer’s broker: $2,640 (30% of their $8,800 commission share)

Are South Carolina commission rates negotiable?

Absolutely, Barber says. There are no laws in South Carolina on what the real estate agent commission rate needs to be, which means the commission rate is flexible in most situations.

“The commission is always negotiable,” Barber says. “Despite what any other agent may tell you.”

While you can negotiate real estate agent commission rates, don’t be surprised if your agent holds firm on how much they charge. A Consumer Federation of America report found that only 27% of agents are willing to negotiate the commission.

One reason agents often don’t lower their rate is that it may reduce their ability to negotiate a higher sale price for the seller. An agent’s services often include photography and pricing analysis, so a lower commission could also translate into a smaller marketing budget for your property, an inaccurate list price, fewer home promotions, and a lower likelihood of selling.

If an agent does have a strict commission structure they won’t budge on, that shouldn’t immediately stop you from working with them, Barber says. Oftentimes, they have that commission structure in place because they know what they can offer you and your home.

“Ask before the listing presentation what the commission is,” Barber says. “But that should not prevent the seller from interviewing a good agent because good agents, even though we have a different structure than perhaps discount brokerages, we carry a lot of value.”

Local market conditions will also affect how you’re able to negotiate, Barber says. Let’s say it’s a seller’s market with low inventory and buyers lining up outside open houses. If you’re confident your home is going to sell, you might be able to ask for fewer services. Maybe you stage your home yourself or take your own photographs if you have experience. Asking your agent to do less for your listing might mean they can lower the commission rate.

On the flip side, a buyer’s market likely means more effort and creativity are required to sell your home. That’s where an experienced and knowledgeable agent is vital.

If you’ve found your own buyer

Exceptions can also occur if you’ve already found a buyer. Let’s say you’re selling your Low Country style home to a friend, or have decided to sell to a family member. In that case, the agent would likely be willing to play the role of transaction coordinator and independent go-between for a reduced commission rate.

Overall, commissions in South Carolina are negotiable but do your research first. When asking an agent to lower their pay, you’re limiting the pool of agents willing to work with you. And the downsides to working with a low-commission agent can be steep. Without a top South Carolina agent in your corner, you could dramatically undersell your home, have a rough selling experience, or fail to sell the home at all.

What is included in a real estate agent’s commission?

A full-service real estate agent in the Palmetto State will provide a high level of offerings that go toward giving you a great selling experience and boosting exposure to your home.

An agent’s services fall into a few main categories:

Guidance on pre-sale improvements

Agents see a lot of houses in their South Carolina markets. They will have an eye for the small but impactful improvements you could make to help it sell for more. The best agents will go above and beyond to help their clients get the job done.

Top agents like Barber will also know what South Carolina home shoppers expect to be improved or repaired, and what things you don’t need to fix when selling your house.

Pricing strategy

An agent will put together a comparative market analysis (CMA) in the form of a thick packet featuring charts, facts, figures, and photographs of houses. The analysis will show you what your home is worth based on comparable sales in the neighborhood, market trends, and local price per square foot. This key tool helps you set a realistic price that can attract offers right off the bat in a fraction of the time it would take a non-professional to determine.

Marketing services

As part of their commission, at a minimum, South Carolina agents should offer expert home prep and staging, professional photography, marketing flyers and pamphlets, direct mail, automatic postings of your listing on major home search sites, local advertisements, exclusive previews for other brokers, and open house coordination. Advanced agents may also offer the development of a virtual tour.

“An aggressive agent is going to market the property behind the MLS (multiple listing service) and is going to do the virtual component many times,” Barber says. “Your listing is going to get more views than the standard listing, and that will certainly make a difference in the number of buyers that see it and cause demand to be in the seller’s favor.”

Offer management and negotiations

When you receive one or multiple offers, an agent will help you determine the strength of the offer and work with you to proceed with responding to buyers. They’ll advise on whether to accept, reject, or make a counteroffer while putting together offer spreadsheets to identify the best offer in bidding war situations.

If a buyer requests repairs after the inspection, an agent will help you push back where appropriate and advise on when to concede. Should the appraised value be lower than the contract price, an agent can help you determine whether to ask the buyer to make up the difference or if you should lower your price.

Market knowledge and neighborhood expertise

Great South Carolina real estate agents know what local buyers seek in homes and which of your home’s attributes to highlight. An agent will skillfully incorporate key features into your home’s listing description and immediately be able to recognize what makes your house or the surrounding area special.

A HomeLight infographic about real estate agent commissions.

What is a fair real estate commission in South Carolina?

As noted above, the average commission rate in most South Carolina markets is between 5%-6% to hire a full-service real estate agent. This rate should mean you have an agent who is dedicated to selling your home for the best possible price, who is available and communicative, and who is willing to shepherd the transaction from start to finish. If an agent isn’t willing to offer all or the majority of services listed above, you should interview more candidates.

According to Barber, the best way to know you’re getting a fair commission rate is to make sure your agent is upfront about what they’re charging. They should be able to tell you in your first meeting what fees will be due and when.

“Before [the seller] signs the contract, they should ask their agent, ‘Hey, okay, this is the price. What is the commission? What are any other fees?’ So they know exactly what they net in their pocket before they accept the price,” Barber explains.

What if my South Carolina house doesn’t sell?

Real estate agents only get paid commissions if and when your home sells successfully. Most real estate contracts include an exclusive right to sell, which gives the real estate agent the sole rights to market the property, list the property on MLS, and receive the commission if the sale closes in a determined time frame. If your house remains on the market beyond the time period outlined in the listing agreement, you are not obligated to pay your agent.

However, keep in mind that your listing agreement may contain a protection clause, also known as a “brokerage protection clause,” “safety clause,” “extension clause,” or “tail provision.” The protection clause states that if a buyer who the listing agent introduced to the property purchases the property after the listing agreement expires, the seller still must pay the agent a commission.

Barber says these situations are rare, but they could happen depending on the contract you sign. It’s important to fully understand your listing agreement and what protections it holds for both you and the agent. Don’t be afraid to consult a real estate attorney before signing if you’re unsure of what you’re looking at.

How can you avoid paying Realtor fees?

There are two main ways to avoid paying Realtor® fees. You can either sell your South Carolina home without an agent’s help, or sell it directly to a cash buyer without ever going on the market.

For Sale By Owner

Without a real estate agent, you’re responsible for preparing your home for sale, marketing, negotiating, and navigating legal and financial documents. When selling a house on your own, you’ll need to hire an attorney, at a minimum, to make sure the paperwork is right.

Typically, For Sale By Owner (FSBO) makes the most sense if you already have a buyer. As of 2022, 50% of FSBO sellers knew their buyer.

This indicates that while the FSBO route is rare, making up just 10% of sellers, it’s even more rare to forgo a real estate agent’s help when you don’t already have a buyer lined up and ready to go. In addition, according to a 2022 National Association of Realtors report, the median FSBO house sold for $225,000, compared to a median of $345,000 for agent-assisted sales. That’s a significant loss of proceeds in an effort to save 5%-6% on commissions.

Sell to a cash buyer

Cash buyers — including iBuyers, investors, and house-buying companies — are individuals or entities that purchase your home outright, without the need for lender financing. These buyers typically make off-market purchases and can provide speed and convenience to sellers.

Just be aware that the price offered by most cash buyers may not match what you could receive on the open market with the help of a top agent.

If you’re interested in a cash sale, you can receive a no-obligation offer through HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform, with no hidden fees or agent commission. Simple Sale connects you to the largest network of cash buyers in the U.S.

Now you know how South Carolina agent commissions work

Sellers pay real estate commissions in exchange for an agent’s expertise and services throughout the sale process. If you’re worried about the cost of the commission, consider that targeted upgrades, stellar marketing, and savvy negotiations can help you maximize your sale price. With a performance-proven South Carolina agent to guide you, you also avoid the stress of navigating this complex process without professional oversight.

The key is finding a quality agent who provides the highest amount of value for their commission fee. In fact, our transaction data shows that the top 5% of agents in South Carolina sell homes for as much as 10% more than the average agent.

HomeLight can connect you with top South Carolina agents with experience tailored to your needs. Whenever you’re ready to get started, HomeLight would be happy to put your commission worries to rest by introducing you to several agents in your area who are well worth it.

Writer McCoy Worthington contributed to this story.

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