Is it legal for a realtor to charge the buyer a non-negotiable fee for a short sale?

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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Is it legal for a realtor to charge the buyer a non-negotiable fee for a short sale?

We are going to buy a home. One of the home we have most interest in is a short sale. The real estate agent holding the listing has told our agent that we must pay an non negotiable fee of $4,000 in addition to the short sale price. Since the seller’s agent isn’t working for us, what could the fee be for and why does the buyer have to pay it? What does the buyer get for that money? I’ve searched the internet and get a hazy view of it’s legality.

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The problem with you having to pay as the buyer a non-negotiable fee for the short sale is that such a payment could be a RESPA violation under federal law if the loan you are getting is a federally insured loan. My concern is that the request that the buyer pay a fee to buy the short sale property is an unearned fee that could be in violation of RESPA and HUD guidelines.

Typically the seller of a home (even in a short sale) pays the real estate fees for the transaction for the lisitng agent who in turn per an agreement with the selling agent splits the commission received in a certain percentage.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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