Yes, you CAN negotiate the commission with a Realtor

Ali Rogers -- my favorite real estate writer on the planet and the author of the very excellent Diary of a Real Estate Rookie -- has joined the newly-launched MoneyWatch.com as its real estate expert.

In one of her first blog posts for the site, she tackles the subject of real estate commissions: Real estate agents have watched their earnings fall as sales prices and volume have tanked in many markets. But, she says, commissions have gone from 5.02% to 5.2% between 2005 and now.

In areas where homes tend to sit on the market for a long time, finding an aggressive, connected, savvy real estate agent is more important than ever. And getting a good agent at 6% vs. a mediocre one at 5% could very easily pay for itself in the form of a shorter time on the market or a higher selling price.

But that doesn't mean you can't negotiate. Rogers suggests that "If you interview three real estate agents and ask them about their marketing plans and their commission structures, and ask each of them for a discount, you'll probably get one. A Consumer Reports survey that came out last year had respondents reporting that if they asked for a discount on real estate commissions, they got one 71% of the time."