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Stay MLS Compliant when Offering Seller Incentives to Buyers

What are Seller Incentives to Buyers and how are they included in NorthstarMLS listing remarks? Here’s what you need to know.

November 16, 2023

The approaching holidays and current higher interest rates may mean your sellers want to offer incentives to attract buyers. These Seller Incentives to Buyers offers can be included in NorthstarMLS listing remarks, but there are some compliance guidelines you must follow.

What are Seller Incentives to Buyers?

These are a type of incentive initiated by sellers to attract buyers and pertains to the listed property. They can take the form of rate buydowns, closing costs or other allowances. Seller Incentives to Buyers may be listed in the MLS in the agent remarks, public remarks or both if they are within the guidelines.

Who can Offer Seller Incentives to Buyers?

For inclusion in the MLS public remarks field, an incentive must be from the seller to the buyer. No other third party (e.g., lenders, buyers agents) can offer this type of incentive in public remarks on the MLS.

While there are other types of bonuses that third parties can offer, an example being Agent Bonus to a Broker, these offers can’t be considered Seller Incentives to Buyers and can only be shared in the Agent Remarks section of listings, not public remarks.

If the seller’s offer involves a lender or other third-party company, NorthstarMLS requires that the lender or other third party’s company name NOT be included in the agent or public remarks. Instead, you can reference them as a “preferred lender.”

What rules or guidelines must be followed?

Seller Incentives to Buyers must comply with closing guidelines and regulations. The incentive must be able to be put on the disclosure statement.

The offer must be specific in purpose. It cannot be a vague bonus or allowance. It must state the specific purpose of the incentive and must be specifically related to the property.

Bonuses on commissions may not be conditional. Conditional bonuses would include a deadline for an offer to be submitted, closing date or other restrictions.

What are Some Examples of Seller Incentives to Buyer offers?

The following Seller Incentives to Buyer examples are acceptable on the MLS:

  • “$15,000 Price Reduction”
  • “Fall showcase pricing of $350,000.00 is effective until 12/31/23”
  • “5% off lot price until the end of the year”
  • “$15,000 in prepaid assessments”

The following Seller Incentives to Buyer examples are NOT specific enough:

  • “$2000 seller paids with full price offer.” This example needs to list specifically what the seller paids are.
  • “Ask about our $2500 Buyer Incentive – Limited Time.” The offer needs to list specifics of what incentives are.
  • “Ask about $15,000 in special parade of homes incentives!” The offer must detail what the incentives are.
  • “$1000 Buyers Bonus.” This example needs more details about the bonus.

The following examples are NOT allowed on the MLS:

  • “$2000 Gift Card.” The offer must be specific to the property purchase.
  • “Low monthly payments, zero down, and up to $14,000.00 CASA funding contribution from the lender” The offer can’t come directly from the lender. It must be from the seller to the buyer.
  • “$1340 cash at closing.” The offer puts the closing date as a restriction.
  • “$5,000 cash back to buyer w/closing before 12/31/23.” The offer uses a deadline as a condition.
  • “Other homes start at $320,000.” If referring to a new development this is okay to do. However, if it is a previously built property and the offer is referring to the neighborhood it is not allowed.

Have Questions?

More information about Seller Incentives to Buyers can be found in the Rules & Regulations section of the NorthstarMLS website, including more about Seller Incentives to Buyers, Agent Remarks and Public Remarks. Have additional questions? Contact the NorthstarMLS Rules + Regs team at rules@northstarmls.com.

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