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Code Violation or Petty Annoyance?

by Brougher, Desiree on

The Code of Ethics sets certain expectations for behavior of Realtor® members, but it does not set rules for every interaction.

There are many petty annoyances that are not the height of professionalism, but probably don’t rise to the level of a code violation. That being said, it’s time for a disclaimer. The situations I’ll describe in this article live in the vacuum of my imagination, but there are additional circumstances that would probably exist in a real-life scenario. So just because I give an example that may not be a violation of the code doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be a similar situation with slightly different factors that would be interpreted differently.

  1. I’ve tried reaching out to this agent and he won’t call/text/email me back. This could be the basis of a complaint from a consumer or another Realtor®, and while communication is essential, it’s not a violation to simply not return a message in a timely manner. It can be aggravating, rude and unprofessional to ignore a message from a co-worker or potential client, but the standard to require responses in all circumstances would be impossible to meet. But the specific facts matter. For example, one clear exception would be when failure to respond would be a violation is the failure to respond to a cooperating broker who has, by providing a Broker’s Request for Affirmation form (PAR Form BRFA) for example, asked in writing for affirmation that the client’s offer was submitted to the seller or landlord. And if the lack of a response is a deliberate effort to shut out cooperating brokers altogether, that could possibly be a problem under Article 1 or Article 3.
  2. The seller doesn’t want to allow this agent/person to have a showing. While Realtors® are expected to cooperate with one another, the cooperation is limited by the rules of access that the seller sets. (Standard of Practice 3-9). A seller may not want to allow her ex-mother-in-law real estate agent to be able to show the property because she does not trust her. A particular buyer agent may be excluded because a prior relationship with the seller ended badly. In these situations, Realtors® often feel conflicted by excluding potential buyers or renters from a showing. However, as long as the limitations are put in place by the client, and are not based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, then the Realtor® can enforce the restrictions set by the seller.
  3. The offer of cooperating compensation isn’t an equal split. There is a reason PAR’s employment contracts state that no association of Realtors® has set or recommended a broker’s fee: it would be a breach of antitrust law to do so. And yet there still seems to be a certain number of agents or brokers who somehow believe that the code or MLS rules require that listing brokers offer 50% of their gross commission as cooperating compensation. While a property listed in the MLS must have offer some cooperating compensation to a selling agent, there is not – and cannot be – a rule declaring that offer must be an equal share (Article 3). Questions about the offer of cooperating compensation should be addressed prior to submitting an offer to purchase or lease the property, and the acceptance of an offer of compensation or an agreement to modify that offer can be documented on the Cooperating Broker Compensation Agreement (PAR Form CBC).

A few weeks ago, we published an article recommending that members sit down and read certain forms to refresh one’s recollection on exactly what they say, and I’ll close with the same recommendation regarding the Code of Ethics. It can be a good exercise to actually read through the Articles and Standards of Practice as a refresher on just what is – and isn’t – covered by the Code of Ethics.


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Sarah Dunn

We have an agent that always makes it difficult to show his listing. No matter what listing it is. Recently one of my agent called to show a property, she was told that the seller requires Proof of funds before any showing. While this is ok to ask for, why before and showing and before the buyer has even indicated they would be submitting an offer.

It just appears to us, they he makes it very difficult for anyone other than his agents to show his listing. Is there a specific form that a buyer agents can ask for to proof what he is saying is true.

Thanks for your help

Joe Moore

It’s a shame that our profession has so many people in it who do not think that communication and good relationships with fellow agents is a good business practice.

It seems as though showings are more restricted in the current market and harder to show. With the lack of inventory, that can be frustrating, but for now, it seems to be working well for the sellers.

Commission being offered is clearly stated in the MLS (or should be) The buyer agent knows what the offer of compensation is before they schedule a showing. In this area too, we as a profession have moved away from being fair minded.

Ryan Thomas

There are some people that carry around a victim mentality. If their offer isn’t selected, then the knee jerk reaction is “was my offer presented”, “was it the list agents buyer”, or “was this discrimination.” When there’s multiple offers on a listing of mine, I have come to expect at least one implicatively accusatory response. I am glad to say that with all the stress of the times we are in, I have seen that disappear. I think agents are so used to the competition and understanding of the challenges, that no one is surprised if they don’t get the deal and just respectfully move on. I almost get a sense like all of us agents are being bonded in a way by a shared struggle with the tough market.