Referral Fees

Q 1: Can I pay a finder’s fee or give a free month’s rent to tenants who refer other prospective tenants to me?

A: No. Referring a prospect for the lease, purchase or sale of real estate for a fee or anything of value is conduct that requires a real estate license. Therefore, this tenant may not legally accept a finder’s fee for or free month’s rent and a licensed agent or broker may not pay an unlicensed person for such conduct.

Q 2: Can a lender pay a referral fee to a REALTOR for referring a buyer to the lender?

A: No. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) expressly prohibits the referral fee.

Q 3: A buyer came to my open house. The buyer wanted representation–but didn’t want me to represent him–so I referred the buyer to another agent. The buyer is purchasing my listing. Do I have to act as a dual agent because I referred the buyer to the other agent and can the agent pay me a referral fee?

A: Ohio Administrative Code Section 1301:5-6-02 provides that a licensee will not be considered to have helped establish an agency relationship or be bound by that relationship merely by referring a buyer or seller to another licensee or receiving a referral fee. If a licensee who refers a buyer or seller to another licensee is later involved in a transaction with that party and will receive a referral fee, that fact must be disclosed to all parties to the transaction.