Real Estate Desk Fees & Transaction Fees, and Their Impact on Income (2024)

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I wish I had realized the true impact of real estate desk fees and how much it would affect my income as a Realtor. I’ve written before about how I grossed $50,000 my first 9 months in a brand new market after moving to a new state.

I just finished up a review of Real Broker LLC at and now that I’ve taken the time to do some research, I’d like to share the differences between different splits and fees. Of course, in your own market, desk fees and brokerages are probably completely different. Bear in mind that these are just examples for comparison.

Real Estate Desk Fees & Transaction Fees, and Their Impact on Income (1)

My Real Estate Background

I was a banker for 8 years before I decided that 14 conference calls with upper-management every single week to see how many checking accounts and loans we have opened was not for me.

This is a slight exaggeration, but it was pretty damn close. Micro-management isn’t fun for anyone, and the banking industry (especially Wells Fargo) is notorious for pushing products that people don’t need.

I wanted to help people…and I wanted to be my own boss. So I became licensed in 2012, and it was one of the best decisions I could have made in my career!

My First Brokerage – Split Commission Example

I only interviewed one brokerage before planting roots with Exit Success Realty in Warner Robins, Georgia. I joined a team and quickly learned that the team life was not the life for me.

Within my first two weeks of being a Realtor, I got my first pending sale, which was funded by none other than Wells Fargo (my former employer, go figure). That deal took 3 months to close, and for some reason, I decided to stay with it! That year I sold 12 homes as an independent agent.

Here’s how my split was broken down: 70% to me, 30% to my broker, $185 transaction fee per transaction, $30 E&O per transaction. So if the average sale price was $120,000 and I earned 3% on the buyer’s side, I’d take home $2306.

Of course, I’d need to subtract 30% for taxes (as a 1099 contractor, you are responsible for taxes…not your brokerage) and 10% for a marketing budget, so my true take-home pay ended up being about $1383. Oh…I also had a $50 per month real estate desk fees (or office fees).

I remember thinking $50 per month seemed like a lot for a hungry new agent! Little did I know that Illinois would cost me 90% more than that, and I wouldn’t even get a desk or an office for that monthly fee! More on that in a minute.

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Switching Brokerages for a Lower Split

Then I decided to move to Coldwell Banker because they had a better reputation. Truth be told, my original brokerage was failing fast. They eventually sold and rebranded completely to Better Homes and Gardens Realty.

At Coldwell Banker, I was offered 60/40 split (up to $100k gross commission, then 100%), with a 6% franchise fee and $50 per month real estate desk fees. So for the same transaction above, I’d take home $2008 before taxes and marketing budget.

After I set aside for taxes and marketing, I’d take home $1205. So I was making less at Coldwell Banker than at Exit Success Realty, but it was worth it for the culture, atmosphere, and reputation.

Real Estate Reciprocity and Starting Over in a New Market

Then we moved to Illinois from Georgia, and I took some time to get my kids settled in school and establish us in a new area. The Realtor who sold us our home was persistent about getting me to join her team, and I eventually did.

Here’s where things got stupid expensive. The new brokerage is the top independent brokerage in the state of Illinois, with over 120 agents under one roof. It seems that everyone has a different agreement with this company, but in my case, if I was to join as an independent agent, I’d have to pay over $1000 per month just in desk fees.

I don’t know how new agents are able to do that! So I joined my Realtor’s team and paid $485 per month in desk fees (mind you, I didn’t get a desk or office for that…it was simply a fee to hang my license with the brokerage).

She also (rightfully so) took 10-20% of my commissions and all transaction volume went under her name. This is understandable because she’s the team leader.

So for the same transaction, $120,000 home, 3% buyer’s agent commission, I’d take home $1728 (after taxes and marketing), less $485 per month in desk fees and I also had to pay for my own E&O of $300 per year. This, so far, yields the highest return because my split was high. But what if I could save that $485 per month?

Real Broker LLC: No Real Estate Desk Fees and 85% split

At Real Broker LLC, there are no monthly fees and agents earn 85% of commissions up to $75,000 gross (then 100%). So, using the same scenario, for a $120,000 home, at 3% buyer’s agent commission, I’d bring home $3060, less marketing and taxes which brings it down to $1836 (with no monthly fees).

The best part is, by saving 30% for taxes, I can pay quarterly and adjust if necessary. It never hurts to have extra savings!

If you’re researching brokerages in your area, don’t make the same mistake I did in only interviewing one company. Do your homework and consider all costs involved.

Make sure you have a good emergency fund built up to cover the start-up costs of becoming a Realtor. In my opinion, there’s no true benefit to real estate desk fees. They just help cover the overhead of brokerage offices.

See if you can negotiate a lesser fee in exchange for a service, or check out It’s not cheap to go into business for yourself. But if you’re a hustler with great people skills, you can make back your investment within the first few months.

Real Estate Desk Fees & Transaction Fees, and Their Impact on Income (2)


Life is a collection of memories and experiences. There are ups and downs. I am so grateful for God’s grace and am on the journey to a renewed spirit, free of perfectionism. Perfection Hangover offers the sober truth – no filter.

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I'm a seasoned real estate professional with extensive experience in the industry, having successfully navigated various markets and brokerages. My journey began in 2012 when I transitioned from an 8-year banking career to become a licensed Realtor. This shift stemmed from a desire to help people and the pursuit of entrepreneurial freedom. Over the years, I've worked with different brokerages, honing my skills and gaining valuable insights into the intricacies of commission structures, fees, and the overall dynamics of the real estate business.

In the article you shared, the author discusses the impact of real estate desk fees on their income and provides a detailed account of their experiences with different brokerages. Let's break down the key concepts mentioned:

  1. Real Estate Desk Fees:

    • Described as monthly fees paid by agents to their brokerages.
    • Varies significantly across different brokerages and markets.
    • The author highlights the sometimes substantial financial burden these fees can impose on agents.
  2. Commission Splits:

    • Refers to the division of the commission earned from a real estate transaction between the agent and the brokerage.
    • The author shares examples of their commission splits with different brokerages, ranging from 70/30 to 60/40, and ultimately an 85% split with Real Broker LLC.
  3. Transaction Fees:

    • Mentioned as additional fees charged per transaction, which can impact an agent's take-home pay.
    • In the author's experience, transaction fees ranged from $185 to $300 per transaction.
  4. Brokerage Changes:

    • The author details their transition from Exit Success Realty to Coldwell Banker and, later, to a top independent brokerage in Illinois.
    • Each change had implications on commission splits, desk fees, and overall income.
  5. Market Variability:

    • Emphasized that real estate dynamics, including desk fees and brokerages, vary from one market to another.
    • The author's move from Georgia to Illinois resulted in significant differences in fees and agreements.
  6. Personal Financial Impact:

    • The author provides insights into the financial impact of various fee structures on their take-home pay.
    • Illustrates calculations based on a hypothetical $120,000 home sale to demonstrate income differences.
  7. Real Broker LLC:

    • Introduced as a brokerage with no monthly desk fees and an 85% commission split, which the author sees as financially advantageous.
    • The author shares potential earnings through Real Broker LLC based on a sample transaction.
  8. Advice to Realtors:

    • Encourages Realtors to thoroughly research and consider all costs involved when selecting a brokerage.
    • Highlights the importance of negotiation and suggests exploring alternatives like

This comprehensive analysis reflects the author's firsthand experiences, providing valuable insights for Realtors navigating the complex landscape of commission structures and fees in the real estate industry.

Real Estate Desk Fees & Transaction Fees, and Their Impact on Income (2024)


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