Bulletin 1984 V15-2
Real estate agents should by now be aware of the position of the Real Estate Commission regarding the sharing or "splitting" of real estate brokerage fees and commissions with unlicensed persons; namely, that licensed brokers and salesmen cannot compensate (by either cash or gifts) persons who have performed acts or services for which a real estate license is required. This has been held to include the payment of finders fees, referral fees, "bird dog" fees, or similar compensation.
The question has risen, however, as to whether brokers can rebate or pay a portion of their brokerage fees to buyers and sellers who purchase or list real estate through the broker. The answer is "yes" because a real estate license is not required of persons who list for sale real estate which they own or who purchase real estate for their own account. However, if payment is being made to a party other than the one which the broker is representing in the transaction, full disclosure of such payment must be made by the broker to his client.
A second question of much interest to real estate brokers has also recently emerged regarding the payment of brokerage fees to buyers and sellers. That is: Must a real estate broker pay a portion of his or her commission to someone who is buying or selling real estate through the broker if such person holds a North Carolina real estate license? The answer is "no". The mere possession of a real estate license does not give rise to any automatic or special claim for compensation. While brokers may voluntarily agree to pay a portion of their fees to such persons, they are not required to do so.