What’s a Realtor Commission on a Million Dollar House?

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

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.

If you’ve ever wondered what a Realtor’s commission is on a million-dollar house, you might be surprised to learn that the answer is both simpler and more complicated than you’d expect. We’re going to cover the ins and outs of real estate commissions on high-end homes, as well as offer some expert tips on what to consider before selling a luxury property.

And we’re diving straight in.

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How does real estate commission work?

On one hand, calculating commission is pretty straightforward in terms of math. The average real estate commission in the United States is 5.8%, with a commission rate of 5%-6% of the sales price being the standard range. For our first example, let’s call it 6% and quickly run the numbers:

1,000,000 x .06 = 60,000

So, if a house sells for a million dollars, a 6% commission would be $60,000. Easy enough!

But this is where things get more complicated because there are usually two Realtors® involved in selling a house — the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. In a standard transaction, the two agents will typically split the commission equally.

60,000 ÷ 2 = 30,000

So, in this example, they’ll each earn $30,000. This still sounds like a nice payday, right? And it is! Except there’s one more split on each side, because both of those agents will likely have a brokerage — think of this as a head office — keeping a percentage of their earnings. This number can vary quite a bit, with new agents splitting commissions 50/50 with their brokerage, and highly experienced agents on splits perhaps as high as 90/10 — with the agent keeping the lion’s share.

For purposes of our example, let’s say both agents are on a 70/30 split with their brokerage.

30,000 x .07 = 21,000

Variables aside, it’s fair to say that a Realtor’s commission on a million-dollar house is approximately $21,000.

Which cities have the highest home prices and commissions?

Once you understand how to calculate commissions, it’s easy to estimate what an agent’s ballpark earnings might be anywhere in the country using the national average commission rate of 5.8% — and then apply the 50/50 split between two agents and factor in a general 70/30 brokerage split.

Let’s look at how the real estate commissions might break down in the cities on Kiplinger’s list of the 15 Most Expensive Housing Markets in the U.S. Rather than the national average rate of 5.8%, we’ll use typical local commission percentages in each market that we’ve pulled from home sales data.

U.S. city Average home price Typical commission percentage Total commission from sale Seller/buyer agent’s 50/50 split After 70/30 broker fee
Manhattan, New York $2,434,977 4.72% $114,930 $57,465 $40,225
Honolulu, Hawaii $1,605,915 5.80% $93,144 $46,572 $32,600
San Francisco, California $1,502,557 5.04% $75,728 $37,864 $26,505
Brooklyn, New York $1,349,755 4.92% $66,408 $33,204 $23,243
Orange County, California $1,248,882 4.94% $61,694 $30,847 $21,593
Washington, D.C. $1,156,418 5.30% $61,290 $30,645 $21,452
Los Angeles, California $1,098,874 5.25% $57,690 $28,845 $20,192
Arlington, Virginia $1,057,001 5.23% $55,280 $27,640 $19,348
Bethesda, Maryland $1,016,715 5.08% $51,650 $25,825 $18,078
Lake Havasu City, Arizona $1,004,158 5.68% $57,036 $28,518 $19,963
San Diego, California $1,001,748 4.92% $49,286 $24,643 $17,250
Seattle, Washington $937,623 5.30% $49,694 $24,847 $17,393
Alexandria, Virginia $937,623 5.23% $49,038 $24,519 $17,163
Queens, New York $926,306 4.66% $43,166 $21,583 $15,108
Boston, Massachusetts $921,897 5.50% $50,704 $25,352 $17,746

Commission rate source: Market sales data collected by HomeLight and other public sites.

Once you know that commission rates are roughly between 5% and 6% nationwide, you can quickly calculate a Realtor’s commission — whether the home price is a million dollars or $100,000.

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 Net Proceeds Calculator and Home Value Estimator.

Do Realtors ever take less than 5% commission?

Real estate can be a cutthroat industry, with dozens or even hundreds of agents competing for listings in prestigious neighborhoods. It might seem like an easy win for a Realtor to offer a seller a lower commission rate — say, at 4% rather than 5% — but in reality? This doesn’t happen often, especially not with high-dollar homes.

“I don’t see experienced Realtors taking less than a 5% commission,” says Chris Carozza, a Samford, Connecticut-based real estate agent with over two decades of experience. “You have to understand that, while some homeowners may agree to work with an agent based on their lower commission rates, that [can be] a mistake.” He adds that “You’re going to get what you pay for,” which can be true if you wind up with an underperforming agent.

Carozza, who is a luxury home specialist, says that some agents who take a lower commission rate are likely to have less experience, and they’re probably not as equipped to market your home at the same level as a seasoned agent working at a higher commission rate.

“An experienced agent can get you top dollar for your property,” Carozza explains. “Homeowners need to understand that the more experienced a Realtor is and the more professional they are, in the heat of a negotiation, they’re going to earn that commission. They’re going to get top dollar for their clients.”

So, while it is possible that an agent may be willing to work for less than 5% commission, it’s highly uncommon in the sales of million-dollar homes — and won’t necessarily be in your best interest as a seller.

What strategies do agents use to sell million-dollar homes?

As Carozza mentioned, experienced agents will have the network and know-how to put your home in front of the right buyers.

“An agent is going to spend more on marketing a luxury property,” he says. “They’ll probably do fancy drone videos, fancy videos from inside the house; they may have an agent event at the house — things of that nature.”

While professional photography is nothing new in the real estate world, the stakes are higher than ever when it comes to visuals. A 2022 technology survey carried out by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 89% of respondents use social media in their business, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. A 2021 NAR report indicated that 29% of Realtors were already hiring professional drone operators to boost their business, with a further 14% planning to do so in the future.

Of course, pretty pictures and videos can’t sell a house all on their own!

How should sellers prepare their million-dollar home for the market?

“Sellers need to go the extra mile when preparing their home for the market,” says Carozza. “It really needs to shine. Sellers should spend some money manicuring the property.”

By this, Carozza doesn’t just mean hiring a professional cleaner to polish the floors and wipe down surfaces. If you’re about to list your home for a million dollars or more, it’s time to go all-out and make sure potential buyers are wowed from the first moment. This preparation should include factors such as:

Curb appeal

Ensure that landscaping is tip-top — think trimmed hedges, tidy grass, seasonally appropriate flowers, and plants — and that the exterior of the home is spotless. Again, think clean windows, gleaming trim, and no debris on the roof or cobwebs clinging to the sides of the house.


When listing a million-dollar home, “you can’t just throw it on the market like you would a run-of-the-mill, $300,000 condo,” says Carozza. Anything in the home that needs attention, whether it’s a glitchy appliance or a leaky roof, should be repaired well before the home hits the market.


A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in livening up a room or making a dingy door look new again. Likewise, if the carpet in the main bedroom hasn’t been replaced since the home was built in 1992, it might be time for a replacement. Look around your home for signs of wear and aging that aren’t necessarily cause for repair, but are definitely an opportunity for a refresh.


Whether you’re using your own furniture or letting your Realtor call in a professional stager, staging your million-dollar home can help potential buyers visualize the space in different ways.

“Staging plays a vital role in selling an expensive home,” confirms Artem Kropovinsky, an interior designer and founder of Arsight interior design studio in New York City.

Kropovinsky describes staging as going beyond the usual decluttering and cleaning process to “add furniture, artwork, and accessories that can make the space more inviting. Staging creates an impression of spaciousness and luxury, which appeals to high-end buyers.”

What upgrades do buyers expect to see in million-dollar homes?

The old adage that real estate is all about “location, location, location” may still ring true, but at a certain price point — particularly once we’re up to seven-figure list prices — buyers tend to have expectations that can’t be met by zip code alone.

“Modern high-end homebuyers typically anticipate upgrades,” says Kropovinsky, who gives the following as examples:

  • Premium appliances
  • Luxurious finishes
  • High-quality fixtures
  • Cutting-edge technology
  • Amenities like a pool, home theater, or gym

With million-dollar homes, it’s simply not sufficient to buy just any set of stainless steel appliances and expect buyers to be impressed — they’ll be looking for the latest and greatest models from reputable brands. Similarly, high-end buyers don’t want to see laminate countertops or vinyl floors; they expect quality solid-surface finishes and hardwood or tile flooring.

In expensive homes, buyers may further expect technology like electronic window shades, video security systems, and voice-controlled lighting and temperature controls.

The particulars of what buyers are looking for will vary with region and, of course, from one person to the next, but it’s safe to say that expectations are much higher as home prices increase.

Kropovinsky advises sellers to “collaborate with an experienced real estate agent who possesses the knowledge and skills to expedite your home’s sale for the best possible price.”

What else should buyers know about real estate commissions?

It should go without saying that the best real estate agents are committed to selling your home efficiently and ethically, no matter the price point. If it sounds like agents work harder to sell million-dollar homes and you’re thinking they’re just motivated by a bigger paycheck — well, we’re all human, right? Most of us wouldn’t work at all if it weren’t for the monetary rewards!

That being said, Realtors selling luxury properties do go the extra mile to ensure those pricey homes are presented to suitable buyers. It all goes back to what Carozza said about swanky marketing — from hiring drone operators to hosting events, experienced agents understand what it takes to market and negotiate on behalf of their most discerning clients. Sellers of high-end homes are paying for a service that will help them get the most money for their home in the most efficient way possible.

In truth, there are no big secrets about real estate commissions — even on a million-dollar house. Across the board in the U.S., when it comes to commission, you can expect that:

  • Rates are between 5% and 6% of the sales price, with 5.8% being the national average.
  • The buyer’s and seller’s agents will typically split the commission equally.
  • Both agents will split their portion of the commission with their brokerage firms, typically keeping between 50% and 90% for themselves.

And it’ll be a well-earned fee.

“The agent you’re hiring should be very experienced in selling luxury properties,” Carozza emphasizes. “The conversations are different, the marketing should be a little different; they’re going to get a lot of questions, and the agent needs to know everything about the house.”

Header Image Source: (Josh Fornandez / Unsplash)