The average total real estate commission in Washington, D.C. is 5.49%. This includes a 2.83% listing agent commission and a 2.66% buyer’s agent commission. In Washington, D.C., sellers typically cover the real estate commission fees for both agents out of their sale proceeds at closing.
Washington, D.C. sellers pay an average of $29,652 in realtor fees, based on the average Washington, D.C. home price of $540,101.
Realtor commission rates vary considerably by region, city, or even neighborhood. The agent and brokerage you choose, as well as the specifics of your sale — like your home’s value, location, and condition — are also factors.
This guide breaks down how much commission sellers can expect to pay in Washington, D.C. We’ll also explain why Washington, D.C. commissions are what they are (and offer up some tips that could help you save).
Washington, D.C. real estate commission: How much will you pay?
Here’s what you can expect to pay in realtor commission based on the average home price of $540,101.
|Listing agent commission
|Buyer’s agent commission
|Total realtor fees
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In Washington, D.C., average total realtor fees come to 5.49%. Sellers typically pay this commission out of the money they make from their home sale.
The average commission in D.C. is significantly lower than the U.S. national average of 5.49%. This is likely the result of Washington, D.C.’s hot market, where prices have risen over the past decade. High home prices in a hot market means agents are willing to take less commission on each sale because they’ll make that money back in volume.
Historically, realtor fees in Washington, D.C. are trending downwards, falling from 5.30% in 2021. This is probably due to a high level of competition among agents. Although D.C. home prices have dipped slightly over the past year, sales activity is still high, with almost a quarter of D.C. homes selling for cash.
How real Washington, D.C. agents and brokers set commission rates
A lot of calculation and guesswork goes into an agent’s commission rate. To put it simply, the more work it’ll take to sell your home, the higher commission rate the agent will charge. There are other considerations, too.
“You’re paying for my experience,” says Jessica Olevsky, a realtor who works in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. “Personally, I charge 5.5% commission for both buyers and sellers. [But] I do go higher, to 6%, if the property requires a higher level of hands-on time, such as an estate or renovation.”
If you have a highly desirable property in a hot market that’ll likely get multiple offers after a single showing, most agents would be willing to cut you a discount on your commission since the sale will probably wrap up pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you have a unique property in a cooler market, an agent will want to charge full commission, since it’ll likely take months to find the right buyer.
On top of that, your agent may not make as much as you think. A real estate commission is typically split four ways, between the listing agent, buyer’s agent, and their brokers.
So your listing agent is only pocketing about a quarter of the total commission. And they have to cover a lot of overhead costs with that money:
- Taxes: Real estate agents must pay a self-employment tax of 15.3% on all commission earned
- Association and MLS fees: $690 annually
- State license fees: $130 every two years
- Administrative staff: Assistants can help with bookkeeping, scheduling, and other day-to-day operations
- Marketing costs: Professional photos, advertising, open houses, and staging
Olevsky also adds that in the D.C. metro area, listings typically need “video, flat floor plan, and interactive 3D floor plan.” These are expensive add-ons, and agents pay for them up front.
How can I save on realtor fees in Washington, D.C.?
While it may take some outside-the-box thinking, there are a few ways you can save on realtor fees:
- Negotiate with a traditional real estate agent or broker
- Work with a discount real estate broker
- Sell without a realtor
Negotiate with a traditional realtor
Agents we spoke to said their commission rate is almost always negotiable. But that doesn’t mean you can get a discount just by asking. Here are some of the top negotiation tactics to help you save thousands on your real estate commission.
Negotiating can be awkward and uncomfortable. If you’d rather avoid it, you can find an agent through our agent-matching service. We’ve already pre-negotiated a low listing fee with experienced agents in Washington, D.C., so you don’t have to. Find a Washington, D.C. agent for less.
Work with a discount real estate broker
Some brokerages offer discounted realtor fees up front. These companies can help you save money, but some come with risks or worse-than-average customer service. Do your research to understand what you’ll get for the discounted fee. See how we ranked discount real estate brokers in your area based on savings, customer reviews, and our experience mystery shopping with each company.
To save an average of $7,000 on your listing fee without sacrificing service, our agent-matching service is your best option.
Sell without a realtor
The ultimate way to save on realtor fees is to sell without a realtor — though we don’t recommend this to most Washington, D.C. sellers.
You’ll avoid paying a listing commission, but you’ll have to do all of the work of a listing agent on your own. Plus, you’ll still want to pay a full buyer’s agent commission to incentivize other agents to show your home to their buyers.
Other FAQs about Washington, D.C. real estate commissions
Does the seller pay real estate fees?
Typically, the seller pays all real estate fees out of the proceeds from their home sale. That includes the buyer’s agent’s commission. See more about Washington, D.C. real estate commission fees and how they break down.
Can I negotiate real estate commissions?
Most real estate agents are willing to negotiate their commission rate — but to do so successfully, you have to give your agent a reason to cut you a deal. Making your sale faster and more efficient, using fewer agent services, or using other agents as competition can all be effective ways to negotiate a commission discount. Learn how to save on commission.
We regularly survey our pool of 14,000 partner agents nationwide on the commission rates they use for buying and selling. These data points are averages based on responses we’ve received from two agents across Washington, D.C.
We also interviewed Jessica Olevsky, a realtor who works in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.