So when a real estate agent is presented with an opportunity to money quickly, it can prove to be a real ethical dilemma. It maybe through a short cut, a loophole, stretching the truth or maybe even bending the law just a little bit.
Following is a list of such dilemmas faced by real estate agents on a near daily basis.
1. Full Disclosure, Always
It is often tempting to exaggerate, conceal or misrepresent certain facts about a property in order to expedite its sale. However, withholding pertinent facts from the buyer deliberately is an immense legal risk.
Real estate agents should, therefore, always disclose all information which can affect the desirability and / or perceived value of the property. In cases where the seller refuses to disclose and insists upon the same from the agent, surrendering the listing is always the safer option.
2. Transparency in Business
In the digital age where most business is now conducted through electronic documents, it becomes easy to ignore ethical obligations. Clients are often misled because they do not fully understand all the information in the documents they sign.
A real estate agent should make all reasonable efforts to ensure both buyers and sellers understand the nature of the agreement, and that all specific terms and material information in the documents is clearly explained.
3. Of Loyalty & Confidentiality
The primary obligation of a listing real estate agent is always to the seller. Revealing non-pertinent information about the seller to an inquisitive buyer may expedite the sale. However, it violates agent/client confidentiality.
Real estate agents should always protect and promote their client's interests first, even at the risk of alienating the buyer.
4. Mixed Signals
It is common for buyers to approach the listing agent at an open house, and ask for information - some of which is usually non-pertinent. The agent risks undisclosed dual agency by not revealing that they represent the seller.
The safe and ethical practice for real estate agents is to ensure the buyer doesn't get the wrong signal. The agent's primary obligation is to the seller, and it should be made clear to the buyer.
5. Honesty in Advertising
The truth is often murky on the internet. Exaggeration and misrepresentation are common, especially on social media platforms. Real estate agents may be tempted to stretch the truth, and present themselves in a more favorable light with inaccurate taglines or statements.
It is important to be truthful and accurate in marketing campaigns and when soliciting prospective clients. Ethical conduct dictates real estate agents stick to verifiable facts and stats.
6. Bias & Prejudice
There is always the risk, where two buyers are interested in one property, of the listing agent becoming biased towards one. This is especially true when one buyer is represented by the agent's brokerage while the other is represented by an unknown agent.
A real estate agent is obligated to treat all concerned parties fairly and honestly. All offers should be presented to the seller, regardless of representation.
7. Fairness in All Things
On occasion, prospective buyers may approach a listing agent directly and request a written offer. However, there is a risk the buyer may already be represented by another agent who is owed a percentage of the sales commission.
The ethical thing to do for a real estate agent is to encourage the buyer to make an offer through their agent. If the buyer cannot work with their agent though, and still demand an immediate offer, the listing agent can follow through with the request.
8. Equal Opportunities
Potential buyers can sometimes push for an early viewing or preferred treatment. It is easy to make a quick sale by prioritizing such buyers, particularly when a handsome commission is at stake.
Real estate agents are ethically obligated to ensure all potential buyers have equal opportunity to view, consider, and make an offer for, the listed property.
9. Approaching Deadlines
An agent can often be tempted to focus primarily on properties with listing contracts that are about to expire. They show and market such properties more aggressively, and tend to ignore newly listed real estate.
All listed properties should be presented equally to potential buyers. It is unfair to both the sellers and the buyers to withhold certain options in favor of personal benefit to the agent or their brokerage.
10.To List or Not to List
Most agents and brokers would agree there can never be too many listings. Once an agent has a full portfolio of listings, however, it becomes nearly impossible to dedicate a fair amount of time and effort to each given property.
It is unfair to both sellers and buyers if a real estate agent is ignoring one property in favor of another or simply can't find enough time to devote to a particular listing. A smaller number of listings can be just as profitable as each property can then be sold faster and at an optimum price.
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Such dilemmas and more are faced by real estate agents every day. Unethical opportunities, whatever method or form they take, should however be avoided in favor of honest business and hard-earned money.
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