The National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics outlines reasonable behavior for Realtors® to conduct business but many fail to remember the basics, says real estate instructor Karel Murray.
“I want people to do their jobs in a competent and professional way,” Murray says. “The Code of Ethics outlines the ethical elements as it relates to working with the public, our customers and clients and each other.”
There can be a host of ethical dilemmas in the real estate industry: fiduciary responsibility, maintenance of buildings, unauthorized practice of law, forging signatures, contract negotiations.
“How agents handle offers, lock boxes and canceled showings are all issues I hear complaints about from other agents,” Murray said. “Some think they don’t have to do what’s in the contract.”
Murray used the example of an agent who failed to notify the client that they were not clear to close three days from closing because there was an issue with the builder not using tempered glass. As a result, it wouldn’t pass the city occupancy inspector and the lender would not issue a clear to close on the financing. The client noticed that the contract stipulated that the builder could sell to another buyer if the clear to close was not issued within 2 days of the closing date stipulated in the contract. When asked by the client get an extension on that clause completed immediately, the agent said it didn’t matter because she had worked with the builder before and he would not exercise his right to resell the property.
“The buyer had invested $25,000 in upgrades into the house and threatened to sue the agent for not doing her job and the client was perfectly within his rights,” Murray said. “The agent needed to get an extension because what is written is the rule. Being lazy doesn’t justify the agent’s failure to do what he should have done. The contract dictates how these issues should be handled.”
Realtors® shouldn’t make assumptions just because they’ve done something so often and they’ve never had a problem. “Too often licensees stop paying attention to the details, when they should be worrying about all these things that could cause problems during and after the sale,” Murray adds. “I urge Realtors® to re-read their forms once a month so they don’t make assumptions and they remain vigilant about the steps in the transaction.”
Murray will present “Character Counts… Doesn’t It? Raising the Bar of Competency: Professional Standards of Practice and Ethical Conduct” during Triple Play Realtors® Convention in Atlantic City, December 8-11. In addition, she will present two other sessions: “Who, What, When and Why! Designing Your Program,” and “Preserving Dignity: Fair Housing & Real Estate.”