We want to relay that not every Realtor charges the same fees, same amounts for those fees, etc. This article addresses the extra fees Realtors charge, not the basic commissions.

The first thing that happens all too often is you as a buyer/seller are surprised by fees just before closing. If this happens, simply ask to see where this fee was signed and agreed to. You'll hear it was part of the contract, and you can respond by stating that it should be easy to find and point out since it was part of the contract. Think of it this way, if you stated you didn't see or misunderstood the part about the commission you can bet the Realtor will have it out and ready to show you exactly what was agreed to. So why not do the same for an extra fee?

Let's take the situation where the fee is to store your file, pay for the filing cabinet or storage facility. It's a rule here in Colorado that we hold onto your file for a period of time after closing. It's not a convenience we provide the consumer, it is a requirement of the state.  Realtors might make it sound like we are offering a service by doing this; it's not. The fee(s) covering filing cabinet and storage facility are getting to be fun because most things are electronic today. Here are 3 questions to ask:

*Are you buying a filing cabinet just for my file?

*If you need a storage facility because of so many files, how do I know you're not too busy to properly take care of me and my needs?

*Since we have this fee that covers file storage I trust we won't be doing anything electronically, correct?

If a fee is justified by a Realtor because other companies/Realtors charge the same fee, ask: "If you simply follow what other Realtors do then that really doesn't separate you from the pack, does it?" The response will be, "Oh, no... we do more for the same fee". To which you respond "Great, show me how you do whatever this fee covers better and how that benefits me."

If a fee is to cover utilities, staff, overhead, etc., simply ask: "Didn't you state that part of the commission I am paying you goes to your company?" To which they normally will respond "Yes, but those are my fees to the company". Then ask, "Is the fee a fee the company charges you as the Realtor regardless of whether or not I agree to pay it?"

The bottom line is, we have never seen a Realtor walk away from a buyer or seller because they declined to pay an extra fee on top of commission. If you threaten to keep looking for another Realtor or state that the only problem you have is paying fees on top of commission, you'll be surprised how fast those fees will go away.

One last piece of truth... if you do have a Realtor trying to charge these extra fees it's an excellent opportunity for you to see how fast they think, how they negotiate, and get a real feel for personality traits. I'm not saying you should agree to pay such fees, but it's a part of your interview they normally aren't prepared for.