Notes From the Legal Hotline: September 2023

September 7, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

Q: Is completing an MLS Status Change form sufficient to alter the terms of the Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement?

A: No, the Status Change Form is an MLS form and is not a contract. Any changes to the terms of the original listing agreement, such as marketing terms, listing price, or length of the agreement, should be addressed in an addendum to the listing agreement, and signed and dated by all parties. The MAR Forms Library contains a number of helpful addenda, including: Agreement to Suspend Marketing of Property (#696) and Extension of Time of Representation Agreement (#697).

While the Status Change Form may be used to demonstrate a “meeting of the minds” between the listing agent and the seller(s), any modifications to a contract should always be clearly made in writing, signed, and dated by all the necessary individuals.

Q: What steps can a listing agent take to verify that the person contacting them is really the owner of the property?

A: There have been an increasing number of reports in Massachusetts relating to fraudulent sellers. Often, these scams are attempted on vacation properties or vacant properties because the legitimate owners may not be routinely physically present at the property. Some indicators of a potentially fraudulent seller are:

  • They say are out of state/country and cannot meet in person;
  • Refusal to engage in a video conference;
  • Insistence on selling the property fast;
  • Willingness to sell below market value.


If faced with a situation where perhaps the lead seems too good to be true, or there are some red flags, a diligent listing agent should:

  • Seek advice from their broker;
  • Request identification from the seller(s);
  • Do a records search – do the names match?
  • Insist on a video call;
  • Do an internet/social media search for the seller(s).


If the seller is legitimate, they will likely be agreeable to the efforts to verify their identity and ownership status of the property. In those situations where the person is attempting to perpetrate a fraud, taking these additional steps will likely act as a sufficient deterrent to the scammer.

Failure to engage in proper due diligence by the listing agent could result in significant damages to the listing agent, the brokerage, the owners of the property, and the buyers.


Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Kate Berard, Associate Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service.  The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at