As a real estate professional, you will be required to adhere to a fairly strict code of ethics that is designed to help maintain a high industry-wide standard that helps to provide clients with a bit more confidence in their Realtor. A real estate agent has access to their clients’ homes and Realtors are also involved in transactions that may involve hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, so there is a lot of room for a dishonest individual to do significant harm. In today’s article, Southern Connecticut Coldwell Banker Realtor Judy Szablak and founder of Szablak Consulting will help new Realtors understand the code of ethics which are typically in place at the national level, at the state level and at the local office level.
What Ethical Standards Apply to Real Estate Agents?
Real estate agents are subject to a number of ethical guidelines and standards, which are typically emphasized during the training and education process that every agent undergoes as they work toward earning their real estate license. Each state’s Realtor association has slightly different ethical guidelines and the same is true for individual real estate brokerages.
The National Association of Realtors also maintains a code of ethics that apply to all members. If a real estate agent is found to be in violation of the code of ethics, that individual could find himself or herself subject to dismissal from the real estate organization and/or brokerage firm. Additionally, a licensed Realtor could also potentially lose their license if the ethical violation is sufficiently serious. The following are some of the guidelines that apply to real estate professionals.
• Protect and promote the interests of the client. This applies to Realtors who are representing a buyer, seller, landlord/property owner, tenant, investor or another client. There are some cases where a single real estate agent may act as a buyer’s agent and as the seller’s agent and in many cases, these transactions go on without a hitch, but if the buyer and seller have conflicting interests, then it’s generally best to call in another real estate professional to represent one of the parties.
• Avoid exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing important facts in a real estate transaction. A real estate agent must remain honest and forthcoming throughout the transaction, even if the truth could deter a potential buyer.
• Realtors cannot buy, acquire an interest in or present offers from themselves, or an immediate family member in a transaction unless they communicate to the owner and his or her real estate agent the fact that they have an interest in the property in question.
• Real estate professionals cannot accept a commission, profit, rebate (on a purchase made on behalf of the client) or another financial benefit unless their client is aware of and consents to this financial benefit. Realtors also cannot accept compensation from more than one individual without disclosing this fact to their clients and others directly involved in the transaction.
• Realtors are prohibited from making “knowingly and recklessly” making misleading or false statements about other real estate professionals, real estate firms or other real estate companies or their business practices. This is intended to prevent an individual from harming another’s business by spreading rumors or otherwise smearing a competitor, colleague or other industry professional.
• Realtors cannot deny services on the basis of gender, skin color, race or ethnicity, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or any other trait. To do so is considered discrimination. Professionals also cannot advertise or promote a property if the owner expresses a preference to one particular demographic or wishes to exclude a particular demographic.
• Refer a client to a legal professional if legal issues arise. Some more complex transactions can involve legal matters. Therefore, Realtors must be careful to avoid offering advice or services that could be construed as legal advice or legal services.
Violations of these ethical guidelines can even result in civil lawsuits in some instances, particularly in cases involving discrimination. Realtors are also required to cooperate with the authorities and others if they are asked to provide information, evidence or cooperate in another manner.
Notably, though, the NAR Code of Ethics holds that Realtors “shall not be subject to disciplinary proceedings in more than one Board of Realtors or affiliated institute, society or council in which they hold membership with respect to alleged violations of the Code of Ethics relating to the same transaction or event.”
Some aspiring real estate agents may wonder if they can get a real estate license and become a Realtor if they have a criminal record. The reality is that each state is unique in terms of its licensing criteria and requirements. Some states deny licensing to anyone with a felony conviction, while others focus more on the actual nature of the conviction. Crimes of moral turpitude — that is, offenses that could suggest poor character — tend to be the most problematic. Crimes involving dishonesty such as theft, fraud and white collar criminal offenses tend to be the most problematic.
It’s also important to remember that even if you get a real estate license, you may still need to undergo background checks when you seek to join a real estate firm. So it’s generally best to research your options prior to investing the time and effort in getting licensed.
Tips to Grow Your Career With Szablak Consulting Founder and Realtor Judy Szablak
Getting started in real estate and setting off down the path toward success can be a real challenge. But this is where you can benefit from working with a career consultant like Judy Szablak. She can provide new real estate agents with valuable insights and recommendations that give them a competitive edge in today’s real estate industry. A consultant will not only offer advice and recommendations, but she will also share her valuable knowledge and expertise on topics such as online marketing for Realtors and social media marketing to get leads, to sales motivation tips and other tips to sell more homes!
Aspiring top producing real estate agents may also with consider reading Realtor Judy Szablak’s related article with advice to help you enjoy a long lasting real estate career.
If you’re ready to take your career to the next level or are just starting working as a Realtor, turn to real estate professional and consultant Judy Szablak, founder and CEO of Szablak Consulting and Best Agents Online, LLC. With Judy’s guidance and expertise, you’ll take your career to incredible places, finding success that’s beyond what you believed to be possible!
If you’re a real estate agent who is ready to elevate your sales or if you’re a realty owner or manager who’s seeking a dynamic, expert coach to bring a new element of professionalism to your sales team and your brokerage firm, turn to Realtor Judy Szablak of Szablak Consulting. Call 855.438.5839 or complete the booking form.