Case #1-5: Promotion of Client’s Interests

Client A gave an exclusive listing on a house to REALTOR® B, stating that he thought $132,500 would be a fair price for the property. REALTOR® B agreed and the house was listed at that price in a 90-day listing contract. REALTOR® B advertised the house without response, showing it to a few prospective buyers who lost interest when they learned the price. In a sales meeting in his office, REALTOR® B discussed the property, advised his associates that it appeared to be overpriced and that advertising and showing of the property had proved to be a waste of time and money.

After six weeks had gone by without a word from REALTOR® B, Client A called REALTOR® B’s office without identifying himself, described the property and asked if the firm was still offering it for sale. The response he received from one of REALTOR® B’s nonmember associates was: “We still have the house listed, but there is little interest in it because, in our opinion, it is overpriced and not as attractive a value as other property we can show you.”

Client A wrote to the Board of REALTOR® complaining of REALTOR® B’s action, charging failure to promote and protect the client’s interest by REALTOR® B’s failure to advise the client of his judgment that the price agreed upon in the listing contract was excessive, and by REALTOR® B’s failure to actively seek a buyer.

In a hearing on the complaint before a Hearing Panel of the Board’s Professional Standards Committee, REALTOR® B’s response was that Client A had emphatically insisted that he wanted $132,500 for the property; that by advertising and showing the property he had made a diligent effort to attract a buyer at that price; that in receiving almost no response to this effort he was obliged to conclude that the house would not sell at the listed price; that in view of the client’s attitude at the time of listing, he felt it would be useless to attempt to get Client A’s agreement to lower the listed price; and that he had instructed his staff not to actively market the property at that price.

How would you decide on REALTOR® B?

Ethics Violation of Article 1 in the NAR Code of Ethics? or No Violation?

See below for how this hearing panel ruled…if you think a violation, how much discipline would you impose? Fine of $________ and ____ hours of education.

If you were the respondent (aka defendant) REALTOR® in this complaint would you have considered taking an offered citation (small fine and education) in lieu of a full formal ethics hearing or waiving your right to a full formal hearing and accepting the fine and education imposed by the ethics committee who takes into account your admission of unprofessional behavior (aka take a plea deal)?

SCR is receiving numerous reports of unprofessional behavior. Across the country, unprofessional behavior is the number #1 complaint by REALTORS® about their colleagues in the market.

There are several ways of addressing and trying to correct unprofessional behavior. Lead by example. If you see unprofessional behavior, say something. Discuss with the other REALTOR®. Discuss with the REALTOR®’s Broker-in-Charge (BIC). Consider filing ethics complaints at the appropriate association and filing license law complaints at LLR.

The Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® B was in violation of Article 1; that he had been unfaithful in his obligations in not advising his client of his conclusion that the property was overpriced, based on the response to his initial sales efforts; and in withholding his best efforts to bring about a sale of the property in the interests of his client.

Posted by: Byron King on 11/14/19 (This information is only accurate as of 11/14/19. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 11/14/19 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at