Case #1-1: Fidelity to Client

Client A complained to a Board of REALTORS® that two of its members, REALTORS® B and his sales associate, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C, had failed to represent the client’s interests faithfully by proposing to various prospective buyers that a price less than the listed price of a house be offered. His complaint specified that REALTOR® B, in consultation with him, had agreed that $137,900 would be a fair price for the house, and it had been listed at that figure. The complaint also named three different prospective buyers who had told Client A that while looking at the property, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C, representing REALTOR® B, when asked the price had said, “It’s listed at $137,900, but I’m pretty sure that an offer of $130,000 will be accepted.”

REALTOR® B and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C were notified of the complaint and requested to be present at a hearing on the matter scheduled before a Hearing Panel of the Board’s Professional Standards Committee.

During the hearing, REALTOR® B confirmed that he had agreed with Client A that $137,900 was a fair price for the house, and that it was listed at that figure. He added that he had asked for a 90 day listing contract as some time might be required in securing the full market value. Client A had agreed to do this but had indicated that he was interested in selling within a month even if it meant making some concession on the price. The discussion concluded with an agreement on listing at $137,900 and with REALTOR® B agreeing to make every effort to get that price for Client A.

REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C said in the hearing that REALTOR® B had repeated these comments of Client A and he, REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C, had interpreted them as meaning that an early offer of about 10 percent less than the listed price would be acceptable to the seller, Client A. Questioning by the Hearing Panel established that neither REALTOR® B nor REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C had been authorized to quote a price other than $137,900.

How would you decide on REALTOR® B? REALTOR® C?

Violation? 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 REALTORS®’s Broker-in-Charge (BIC). Consider filing ethics complaints at the appropriate association and filing license law complaints at LLR.

It was the Hearing Panel’s conclusion that REALTOR® B was not in violation of Article 1 since he had no reason to know of REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C’s actions. The panel did find REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® C in violation of Article 1 for divulging his knowledge that the client was desirous of a rapid sale even if it meant accepting less than the asking price. The panel noted that such a disclosure was not in the client’s best interest and should never be made without the client’s knowledge and consent.

Posted by: Byron King on 08/06/19 (This information is only accurate as of 08/06/19. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 08/06/19 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at