Can neighbor cash in on real estate sales commission?

DEAR Patti: Our elderly neighbors were selling their home. It was listed for sale with a local agent. My husband and I told some friends about they house. They wanted to inspect it immediately. I coordinated with our elderly neighbors for a walk-through inspection and then put them in touch with the listing agent. The sale went through without the agent ever having to show the house. Aren't we entitled to part of the sales commission? – Robin L.

DEAR BOB: Legally, no. Morally, maybe. Unless you are a licensed real estate agent who represented the home buyers, you are not legally entitled to receive part of the sales commission.

However, in many states the listing agent could pay you a "finder's fee" for referring the buyers. I hasten to add finder's fees are not legal in all states.

Finder's fees are whatever the parties agree upon. Certainly, you are not entitled to half of the sales commission. But a sharp listing agent, if finder's fees are legal in your state, should offer to pay you $1,000 or so, depending on the gross commission she received. At the very least, the listing agent should have given you a lavish thank-you gift.