Offers and Buyers Agency Commissions

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Here is my disclosure on this very sensitive subject.  I am not suggesting a commission schedule to any of you and I am not a lawyer in Massachusetts where this took place but I thought it was a discussion that was worth having with other professionals.  I was recently involved in a transaction outside of my normal working area.  I got a referral from a friend and they wanted my personal attention so I agreed to help them find a home.

 Everything was fine until my buyers submitted and offer.  In that offer my buyers requested that the seller pay additional commission to them at closing so the buyer could fulfill their buyers agency contract with me.  The agent on the other end of the transaction was upset that my buyers where changing the buyers agency commission as listed on the MLS.  This agent then told me that I was violating my contract with the MLS by allowing my buyers to request a change of commission. The agent went on to explain that the way real estate worked in the area was that if you wanted to change the commission you had to ask permission from the seller before showing the property. Then they instructed me to go ask MAR and the MLS about this and assured me that I would see that the agent was correct. 

Being a licensed real estate trainer for Massachusetts I was shocked by these claims.  I have been practicing real estate for years and never had such a passionate objection to an offer before so I did what the agent suggested and called MAR and the MLS.  Here is a link to the article that clarifies this subject Bay State Realtor March-April 2007 AntiTrust Article. To sum up the article it says that is perfectly legal for a buyer to ask a seller to change the commission in an offer and that the offer must be presented. It also clarifies that the seller does not have to accept the offer and that buyer and seller are free to agree on whichever terms that they want in their contract. In talking with the MLS they stated that they have no authority over what a buyer and seller agree to or don't agree to in a contract.

I am wondering if there was a change in the law at some point that would have led this agent to think the description above was accurate? Has anyone else has had this experience before?

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