Bonus to the Buyer agent if on Deposit by XX/XX/XX~Does it work?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Professional Associates

Bonus to the Buyer agent if on Deposit by  XX/XX/XX~Does it work?

I often brainstorm out of the box marketing ideas with my agents to help move properties.  I have always come to the,” $XXXX bonus to buyer agent if on deposit by XX/XX/XX.”  In the past I have always leaned toward this is a worth while marketing technique.buyer agent bonus

Recently I am questioning my thought process.  I had an agent ask me if we needed to pay on a bonus that was offered if the agent didn’t notice.  This has made me rethink if this works at all!!!  There are many agents that don’t look at the commission compensation, what would make them look at bonuses offered? 

 I think in today’s market, the buyer often directs the houses they want to see.  They have such easy access to, truilia, zillow and more. We set them up to get auto emails that match their search criteria like number of bedrooms, towns, price, bathrooms, etc.   They have done a drive by, and searched public records.  Wouldn’t this actually support the argument that the bonuses would work.  Wouldn’t the buyer’s agent work harder for more money?

Is it all about the marketing of the bonus?


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Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I work with buyers 100% of the time -- and bonus from the listing agent, or no bonus from the listing agent -- I work hard.  How does a bonus from the listing agent make an agent "work harder"?  Are you inferring that sans a bonus, buyers' agents don't work or need to work harder??  How does a buyers agent work harder when showing a  listed property?  These types of bonuses don't change the property, the list price, the condition, the terms I can negotiate, etc.  The fact that the majority of listings don't have these types of bonus incentives, and properties sell, so what's the point?  I call these bonuses the luck of the draw.  Some lucky agent is going to score when selling the property, and it's not because they worked harder for the bonus.  They just happened to have buyers interested in the property which they would be interested in without a bonus. 

Aug 11, 2012 02:58 AM #1
Pam Crawford
RE/MAX Professional Associates - Auburn, MA
Owner-RE/MAX Prof. Assoc.,MBA, CDPE, CRS, ABR

Awesome response Carla.  Do you think it would be more of an incentive if the bonus was offered to the buyer instead?  When I am doing my business I might miss something that is offered that would benefit me, but would always make sure I got everything that was coming to my buyer.  Thoughts?

Aug 11, 2012 03:07 AM #2
Judith Abbott
Coldwell Banker Residential - Dallas, TX

I have always thought that bonus was a little insulting and really bad RP.  The bonus suggests that I would steering my buyers toward a deal if I made more money off of it. Really?  Someone believes that I operate my business how?

The reason I say it is bad PR is because unless a person has a long term relationship with me, they aren't going to know anything about my ethicals standards.  Conversations about my getting paid a bonus are always awkward.  Typically, I just pass it on to the buyer.  It is just easier to do it that way.

Thanks for the post.

Aug 11, 2012 03:46 AM #3
Mike & Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

ALL Commission compensation and/or a bonus in MLS is UNCONDITIONAL....that means you cannot condition it on a date or deposit or price anything else.

If you offer a bonus you are obligated to pay it...why else would you publish it? what would you hope for, that the selling agents does not notice their commission on the HUD is short?

I'm with Carla on the "working harder" part.

Bonus to the buyer?  If you really want to sell the property, drop the price...

Eve in Orlando

Aug 11, 2012 03:53 AM #4
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Hi Pam. I don't see too many 'bonuses' listed around here and even so they would go through the broker, not directly t oan agent. The agent likely wouldn't see much of it. And as Carla said, I am working hard to find my clients home with them based on THEIR choices so it is a bit of a rub. 
Even a comment that the buyers could see to the effect that the seller will provide $XX toward ?? could have limited appeal depending on the buyer.
In the end, the sellers need to let you price it right and there will likely be no need for games.
Just my 2¢


Aug 11, 2012 03:56 AM #5
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I am also insulted when I see these types of bonuses being offered.  I am not going to push my buyers to buy a certain house just because it has a bonus. Lowering the price is best, but if you must offer a bonus, offer it to the buyers and put it in BOLD letters.

Aug 11, 2012 04:02 AM #6
Gary Frimann
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

The bonus could be used to credit a buyer as part of their closing costs or down payment.  I knew of an older woman agent who only sold houses with a bonus, and since it does not show up on the buyer's HUD-1, the buyer does not know.  Although I have never sold a house with a bonus, I am not sure if I would disclose it or not to the buyer.  If they found out later, they might think that we were steering them into that house.  As I've though about this in the past, I would probably give it to the client as a credit, so as not to think I was steering them.

Aug 11, 2012 04:09 AM #7
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

When putting our own home up for sale I contacted our friend and former broker to ask if we should offer 4% to coordinating brokers or a $5 grand bonus.  She said, do the 4%, most agents aren;t smart enough to scroll down to see that there is a bonus.

Aug 11, 2012 04:38 AM #8
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

I hate offering bonuses. It feels too slimy to me, like  a bribe! I don't discriminate in showing houses based on cobroke or bonuses.

Aug 11, 2012 04:52 AM #9
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

When I see those bonus offers I look at it as desperation, as the buyers always seek their properties and for an agent to try to push a buyer to a house that offers them an incentive is definitely steering. If they want to get the house sold, then lower the price.

Aug 11, 2012 05:53 AM #10
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker

Every time one of my sellers recommends offering an agent bonus, I tell them that they are better off reducing the price by that amount. Buyers have access to so many avenues of finding homes, that pricing it well is more of an incentive to get them in the door than offering something to the agent. An agent should show the homes their client wants to see, regardless of whether a bonus is offered or not.

Aug 11, 2012 06:43 AM #11
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Much of the time I've seen a bonus, is when the listing is just about to expire so it must be the listing agent who kicks it in rather than the seller. But in the end, it doesn't make any difference. I'm with those who say it should go to the buyer.

Aug 11, 2012 07:25 AM #12
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Pam, I showed a property yesterday that had a $10,000 bonus offered to the selling agent if under contract by tomorrow. I didn't even notice the offer. The agent informed me of it today. But I guess several other agents did because the listing had three showings today. The seller decided not to respond to our offer in hopes that one of the other 3 agents would come in with a better offer. Will he have it under contract by tomorrow? Possibly. Is that why I took my buyer and wrote the offer? No. The listing agent did say the showings weren't scheduled until he sent an email blast offering the bonus. As far as I'm concerned, it sure makes our profession look darn greedy if that's the only reason we are showing a property.

Aug 11, 2012 08:05 AM #13
Sharon Denning
Momentum Marketing - West Richland, WA
Marketing that gets it SOLD

I don't think the bonuses are too successful. I do think an offer to pay some closing costs helps some buyers and may sway them even more than the recommended price reduction. 


Aug 11, 2012 08:48 AM #14
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

The bonus suggests that an agent could steer a buyer toward a more lucrative cimmission.  As such,  is insulting for many of us.

Aug 11, 2012 09:54 AM #15
Pam Crawford
RE/MAX Professional Associates - Auburn, MA
Owner-RE/MAX Prof. Assoc.,MBA, CDPE, CRS, ABR

Great response everyone.  It is nice to see the priority is with what is in the best interest of the clients, and not the agent.

Aug 11, 2012 10:49 AM #16
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


In our current market that strategy is not necessary.  We have very low inventory and house that are in decent condition and are priced right sell right away, sometimes with multiple offer.  I have seen that strategy used in the past and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Aug 11, 2012 02:29 PM #17
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M
Pam - Maybe the special goes to the buyer who notices it for closing costs?
Aug 11, 2012 02:55 PM #18
Jayne Anderson
Coldwell Banker Sloane Realty - Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Hi Pam,

After climbing 100's and 100's of stairs yesterday, showing beach homes to out of state buyers, when I read your statement "Wouldn’t the buyer’s agent work harder for more money?" - I smiled. The buyers and I worked hard yesterday in 90 degree heat and if any "bonus" was offered, it would go to reduce the list price. We worked hard yesterday and a lot was accomplished; but is was not driven by the thought of a "bonus".

Continued success!

Aug 11, 2012 08:11 PM #19
Dan Falco
Assist-2-Sell Buyers and Sellers Advantage - Newtown, PA
Assist 2 Sell Full Service Discount Broker

Pam - I think a competitive buyer agent commission and correct pricing is all that is needed, especially in this market.

Aug 13, 2012 06:33 AM #20
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