Article 16 – REALTORS® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with clients.

Client A gave a 180-day exclusive right to sell listing of a commercial property to REALTOR® B, specifying that no “for sale” sign was to be placed on the property. REALTOR® B and his sales associates started an intensive sales effort which, after three months, had produced no offer to buy, but it had called attention to the fact that Client A’s property was for sale. When REALTOR® C heard of it, he called on Client A, saying that he understood that his property was, or soon would be, for sale, and that if Client A would list the property with him exclusively he felt confident that he could provide prompt action. Client A said the property was exclusively listed with REALTOR® B under a contract that still had about 90 days to run.

“In that case,” said REALTOR® C, “you are bound for the next 90 days to REALTOR® B. I have a really outstanding organization, constantly in touch with active buyers interested in this class of property. I am in a position to render you an exceptional service, and I will plan to call you again in 90 days or so.”

The property remained unsold during the term of REALTOR® B’s listing contract. REALTOR® C called again on Client A, and obtained his assurance that he would sign an exclusive listing of the property upon expiration of the listing contract.

When REALTOR® B called on Client A on the last day of the listing contract to seek its renewal, Client A told him of REALTOR® C’s two visits. “I was impressed by REALTOR® C’s assurance of superior service” Client A told REALTOR® B, “and in view of the fact that my listing with you produced no definite offer in the 180-day period, I have decided to give REALTOR® C a listing tomorrow.”

REALTOR® B filed a complaint with the Grievance Committee of the Association, outlined the facts, and charged that REALTOR® C’s conduct had been inconsistent with Article 16 of the Code of Ethics.

The Grievance Committee referred the matter to the Professional Standards Committee.

How would you decide on REALTOR® C?

Ethics Violation of Article 16 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.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel found that REALTOR® C had violated Article 16 by failing to respect the exclusive agency of REALTOR® B. The panel’s decision advised that REALTOR® C’s original contact with Client A, made at a time when he had no knowledge of REALTOR® B’s exclusive listing, was not in itself unethical, but that as soon as he learned of REALTOR® B’s status as the client’s exclusive agent, he should have taken an attitude of respect for the agency of another REALTOR®, and refrained from any effort to get the listing until after the expiration date of the original contract.

REALTOR® C’s attitude of regarding the client’s relationship with REALTOR® B as a kind of misfortune, of presenting his own service as superior to REALTOR® B’s, and of suggesting to the client that, having a better capacity to serve him, he could wait until REALTOR® B’s listing had expired, was, the panel said, contrary to the respect for another REALTOR®’s exclusive agency required by Article 16.

The Hearing Panel’s decision further advised REALTOR® C that he would have conducted himself in accord with Article 16 if, upon learning of REALTOR® B’s status as exclusive agent, he had expressed his willingness to cooperate with REALTOR® B in the sale of Client A’s property.

Posted by: Byron King on 1/9/20 (This information is only accurate as of 1/9/20. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 1/9/20 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at