WATCHING OUR LANGUAGE Part I - Advertising Our Listings at What Cost?

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Liberty Homes RS-#62825

While perusing the listings for homes for sale (for a client coming in next Monday) my eyes settled on a listing they might be interested in. Hmmm. not bad price and in an area my clients are interested in. We've been working long distance by email, mls site listings sent automatically by criteria and the phone for months now. We pretty much have it figured out what their criteria is, the neighborhoods they are interested in and so forth.

This is how the PUBLIC remarks read describing the property:

Great single family home for first time buyers or buyers looking to move up. One of four homes, at the end of a shared driveway. Missing appliances but good condition - ready to move in. Short drive from (brand name store), other shopping, dining & more! **SELLER WILL PROVIDE 6% IN SELLER CONCESSIONS FOR A FULL PRICE OFFER USING XXXX (company) MORTGAGE**

 This is how the AGENT remarks read describing instructions:

Call xxxxx  & speak to xxxx or xxxxx to set up showings. **Buyer's to pay $99 doc fee at closing** **Buyer's to pre-qual w/ xxxx (loan officer) at  xxxxx (phone number)  @ xxxxx (loan company) Mortgage prior to or w/in 48hrs of submitting offer** PLS CALL BEFORE SUBMITTING OFFER!

 I don't know if this is standard for other states and their advertising listings  ....

can you all enlighten me with your thoughts?

Posted by



Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


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Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

In my area, the listing agent cannot market themselves or others in the public remarks.  Plus, you can't say they will give an incentive based on a set thing like full price. Everything is negotiable.  Take 6% PLUS off the asking price and submit your offer that way.

Aug 25, 2009 08:14 AM #1
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Donna: Your first sentence says it all...

Aug 25, 2009 08:19 AM #2
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Woo Hoo, This is one that may end up being reviewed (or needs to be) by those who are charged with investigating compliance of the MLS rules. Since the model MLS rules are created and adopted by the National Association and then adopted by the respective State associations and are used by most regional REALTOR MLS's with modifications, I would doubt that the remarks section you illustrated would be in compliance with your local or regional MLS. Your first commenter, Donna had it right about the personal marketing aspect and there may be yet other serious questions raised about the advertised Seller concessions being conditional on specific events or contract specifics, timing or parties prescribed that may be providing services. This would be a good teaching example for MLS's .

Aug 25, 2009 09:01 AM #3
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

definitely an mls violation in Houston! Anytime incentives are offered to "use the sellers lender" a buyer should run like hell (to their own lender)

Aug 25, 2009 09:57 AM #4
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Sally - It is pretty common, especially in REOs or short sales, to require prequalification from a certain lender, but it must be specified in the listing that the buyer need not use that lender for the loan. 

I would think it would be a violation of MLS rules and of NAR rules for an agent to try to talk any buyer into using their lender.  If asked for a recommendation, I usually recommend a couple or more and let the buyer pick which one they want.  I'm always careful not to try to direct them just to one.

Aug 25, 2009 10:01 AM #5
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Sally, we also have to be very careful in our public remarks.......and our MLS is very diligent......they will slap your hand pretty quickly if you include wrong info, but they will usually send a warning before fining you for the transgression.  That's nice for the new agents that make mistakes but don't mean to do wrong.  Once you've gotten a reprimand you aren't likely to try that again.

Aug 25, 2009 11:10 AM #6
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

William: I thought it would be a good example to give everyone here a heads up on 'how NOT to advertise your listing'.  :)

Greg: Ah...a man of ethics indeed!

Susan: Yup...but to offer incentives to use the lender and offer a 'kickback' is not common practice no matter what type of sale it is. I too..recommend a few...and let them decide.

Ann: Us too....and this is a clear violation.


Aug 25, 2009 11:16 AM #7
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Sally, a clear violation in our MLS.

Remarks can only describe the house.

The agent remarks really concern me as YOUR buyer has no fidicuary relationship with the seller. He should NOT have to pay any fee to the seller or listing agent.

Is this a foreclosure or short sale.

Some agent here tried to ask for fees from the buyers and our Michigan Association of Realtors attorney, said NO it is illegal.

When we see it on listings we write in, "Purchaser to not pay any fees to Listing agent or Seller."


Aug 25, 2009 11:34 AM #8
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Missy: I thought so....seems 'most' of us follow those rules.

Aug 25, 2009 12:19 PM #9
Carol Smith
Casmi Photography - Mebane, NC

Sally - I ran into something similar last year.  I told the listing agent that my buyer was already pre-approved w/documentation to back it up.  He said, and I quote, "That doesn't matter.  They still have to be approved by XXXXXX before my seller will look at the offer."  I checked with our MLS and the listing got pulled.  My buyers refused to submit to another pre-approval process (rightfully so!) and we found another home for them.  I'm thinking that there has to be some tie to RESPA that might put an agent in a bind over this kind of thing.

Aug 25, 2009 12:35 PM #10
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Sally I have not heard of this being done in the MLS around here, but I do know that Banks some times require prospective Buyers to be Pre-Qualified by a Lender of their choosing on Bank Foreclosures, but they do not give incentives to doing the Loan with that Lender.

Aug 25, 2009 12:42 PM #11
Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375
Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions" - Grand Rapids, MI
Real Estate Services You can Trust!

Hi Sally, can't believe an agent or broker would allow this to be published.  Thanks for sharing what not to do...our MLS  rules would say....NO Way!  Nice post Sally.

Aug 25, 2009 01:35 PM #12
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Well, I guess that not everyone follows the rules and regulations to the letter, huh?

Aug 25, 2009 02:08 PM #13
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Gave me that "I need a shower" feeling...

I have had REO's that insist we have a prequal from a certain lender, like.. themselves, but state you can use whoever you want.

Aug 25, 2009 02:18 PM #14
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

None of that is allowed in the remarks section of our MLS. That's asking for a fine. Not only that, it's tacky and unethical.

Aug 25, 2009 02:30 PM #15
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Our listings have pre-qual information for specific mortgage companies all the time.  See them with REO's constantly.  No one in our MLS seems to be raising an issue with it other than as an agent if I have a buyer already pre-qualified with a local lender why do they need to qualify with another lender?

Aug 26, 2009 12:12 AM #16
Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC
Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC - Rockledge, FL
... a small office, delivering big service!

Geez, why can't a real estate agent just state the facts, provide showing instructions and negotiate a deal without clouding the entire process with this junk? Not sure I would even bother showing something like this!

Aug 26, 2009 01:20 AM #17
Robert L. Brown - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

That's a no-no here. Is this person STILL in the busines? They need to be brought before your board as example. File an ethics claim.

Aug 28, 2009 08:24 AM #18
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Sally - This is indeed a violation in our MLS, but I see this often and wonder if it will just be a slap on the wrist to the offender.

Aug 28, 2009 05:04 PM #19
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Sally - very questionable information to be seen on a listing ... having said that it sounds like the seller may be locked in with the mortgae co. and have to pay a very large fee to get out

Aug 29, 2009 03:06 AM #20
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