If you're being sent to this page, it's because you asked me when you can expect to get paid.  I get it - it's been two months and you've waited long enough.  However, I don't usually know "exactly" when you'll get paid, because there are multiple scenarios and I simply don't have the funds yet. 


Below, I cover the three most common scenarios - but there are others! - and I'll write about them in a little detail here.


First things first, things don't get going until there's a closing.  In Massachusetts (and probably most states) it is technically illegal for the funds to be paid until the closing is on record.  Usually, agents are paid out of the escrow funds held at the listing agency.  Those are kept in a separate account (again, by law), so the first step is they need to move post closing to a commission account.  This is easy if it's the first scenario, where the buyer has all the commission funds in escrow, which is the first path in the image below.

The listing agency transfers the money, and writes the check to the listing agent, and then writes the check to the buyer agent's Brokerage (not the buyer agent!).  The buyer agent's brokerage has to wait for the (usually) postal mail to arrive (2-5 days), and then they deposit that check, which needs to clear (0-8 business days, depending on the bank). Then the buyer brokerage can write the check to the buyer agent.  That means it can often take 10 days from closing to get paid - and sometimes longer.  Some listing agencies (often the really big ones) have to send checks to central clearing houses which can REALLY slow things down.  


That is the easy scenario of course.  The hard one is when the listing agency has some funds, but the rest of the funds are at the closing table.  This is the middle scenario in the image below.  Usually what happens is the closing funds are sent to the listing agency and deposited.  Just as the scenario above, this can take about 5-10 days.  At that point, the top scenario is followed, resulting in another 5-10 day delay.  Here's a situation spelled out that could take 20 days.

  1. Closing attorney sends funds to listing brokerage (5 days-  no mail on Sunday)
  2. Listing brokerage  deposits check (1 day to deposit, 5 days to clear)
  3. Listing brokerage sends funds to buyer brokerage (3 days)
  4. Buyer Brokerage deposits check (1 day to deposit, 5 days to clear )

And that's when everything goes right, and no one is missing any paperwork (I am often chasing other brokerages for commission statements and W-9's)

The clearing of checks really slows things down, and when someone uses overnight mail it speeds things up, but it is not uncommon for closings on a Friday not to have anything mailed until the following Monday or Tuesday.  


Having said that, you should know that as an agent myself, I know the waiting can be hard.  At Heisler & Mattson Properties, we clear checks immediate and often write commission same day we have funds.  This includes when we send checks to buyer brokerages.  Although many agencies may give you the run around, that doesn't happen here. 

The last situation is becoming more common, but it still isn't common.  The closing attorney, occasionally, will write separate checks to both agencies if they are owed funds.  This is significantly a faster way to do things than path #2! But in Massachusetts, technically it is not the way it is "supposed" to be done.