Every other year, I get to go to Continuing Education classes, and usually a refresher course in our Realtor® Code of Ethics is included. I don’t mind it though, because it is very important to me, and I think more people should know about it. One of the main differences between a Realtor and a “real estate agent” is that I am bound by the National Association of Realtors to follow the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. A “Real Estate Agent” who is not a member of NAR is not considered a Realtor®, and is not bound by this code. I have decided to start a series of posts that describe my Duties as a Realtor®.
Duties to Clients and Customers: Article 1
“When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, Realtors® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their clients. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve Realtors® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, Realtors® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”
What?! In plain English, it means that I have to treat EVERYONE honestly, no matter if I am representing them as my client or not. When I am dealing with a client I must protect their best interests at all times. So what’s the difference? Basically, you are my client if there is a contract like a Listing Agreement, Purchase Agreement, or Exclusive Agency Agreement. A customer is a person who gets information or is shown houses, but never enters into a contract. The best way to protect yourself as a buyer is to ask for an “Exclusive Buyer Agency Agreement”.
The Standards of Practice that follow Article 1 include:
- When acting as a principal (buyer, seller, or other party) in a transaction, I am still bound by the Code of Ethics.
- The duties in the Code of Ethics encompass ALL real estate activities, whether they be in person, e-mail, on the phone or whatever.
- In order to secure a listing, I won’t deliberately mislead you as to the value of your property.
- I can not/would not mislead a potential buyer to the benefits or savings available when using a Realtor®
- I can represent BOTH sides of a transaction (buyer and seller, landlord and tenant) only if I have written permission from both parties and have fully disclosed that I represent both sides.
- I must submit all offers and counter-offers objectively, and as quickly as possible.
- When I am the listing agent, I must present ALL offers and counter-offers until the transaction is closed, even though I am not obligated to continue to market the property once an offer has been accepted.
- When I am representing you as a buyer, I still need to submit any offer you make, but once we have an offer accepted, I am not obligated to continue to show you more houses (even though I have).
- I must and will keep your information confidential, even once our relationship as Agent and Client is over. Information regarding property defects is NOT considered confidential information.
- When entering into a listing contract, I will tell you about my company’s policies regarding compensation and cooperation with other agents, the fact that buyer’s agents represent the buyer (even though they are technically paid by the seller), and the potential that I could act as a dual (or limited) agent.
- The same thing applies to entering into a buyer agency contract: I will tell you my company’s policies about agency and cooperation, the amount of compensation to be paid by you or anyone else (seller, builder, etc), the potential for dual agency, and the possibility that the other agent may not treat your information as confidential.
- If asked, I will (with the seller’s approval) disclose the existence of offers on the property, and if those offers are from an agent in my own company, myself, or another agent.
Clear as mud??? Feel free to send me your questions about Article 1, I would love to help you understand it better!