"Consumers should understand that everything is negotiable in a real estate transaction," says Barry Zigas, housing director for the Consumer Federation of America. "That doesn't mean that you will get a professional to agree to change the fee. But it doesn't hurt to ask."
During one sale, Zigas negotiated a reduced real estate commission in return for doing some of the work himself.
Another topic to cover before you hire: If you have to lower the agent's recommended asking price, how will he or she share that loss? While a lower price means a lower commission, you take the majority of the hit.
Sample script: If we have to reduce the asking price, "let's talk about how you might share some of that pain," Zigas says.
Already locked in with an agent who is now happily advocating price-slashing? Be prepared for the agent to point out that he or she is already looking at a lower commission, says Zigas.
Zigas' suggested response: "I understand that. But we're not getting the result we set out to achieve, and I'm asking you to contribute something so we both can get through it."
No, it's not fun. "For a lot of people," says Zigas, "these are very confronting conversations."