Big institutional investors drove a lot of the housing sales in 2013 – accounting for as much as 40% of all sales in the year.

In fact, for years, institutional investors, awash with private equity, outbid locals for potential investment properties. Now, that’s slowing down.

Freddie Mac, with some 12,000 units in its inventory, is trying to jumpstart sales by appealing to individual homebuyers — the mom-and-pop shops. Freddie’s incentive program pays cash incentives to real estate agents who list or sell HomeSteps homes in 23 select states between February 18, and April 15, 2014.

“About two-thirds of our homes are sold to individual homebuyers, and while we only announced this last week, we have a lot of interest and anecdotal evidence that there is an interest in the program,” said Brad German, spokesperson for Freddie Mac.

Under the program, selling agents will receive a $1,000 incentive, and listing agents a separate $500 incentive, when they sell HomeSteps homes located in one of the 23 target states during the 2014 HomeSteps Winter Sales Promotion.

Both promotions do not apply to investor purchases, auction sales, sealed-bid sales and bulk sales.

For the first time the HomeSteps Winter Sales Promotion offers homebuyers a choice of $500 incentives they can use towards condominium association dues, flood insurance premiums or the home warranty of their choice.

“With mortgage rates still low and home inventories tightening, the 2014 HomeSteps Winter Sales Promotion is a great opportunity for families ready to buy and real estate agents ready to sell," said Chris Bowden, Senior Vice President, HomeSteps:

HomeSteps Winter Sales Promotion incentives are paid only when approved offers are received between February 18 and April 15, the home is sold as a primary or secondary residence and the closing settles on or before May 30, 2014.

The HomeSteps program is available in Alabama, Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.