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Ethical considerations for licensed real estate agents

Recently, this legal blog featured a post about the code of ethics for occupational therapists. Expanding on the topic of professional ethics, this post will discuss some ethical matters that may help real estate agents protect their licenses in the state of California.

Unfortunately, the real estate industry is fraught with ethical traps, for lack of a better word, that may one day require agents to build a professional license defense. A good example of this is disclosing previous problems to potential buyers. Say a transaction fell through because a problem arose during the inspection process. If the owner remedies the situation, is the agent required to disclose the problem to the next potential buyer since it has been repaired? This is just one of many ethical considerations a real estate agent must address every day.

Following a solid code can guide agents in their daily interactions with buyers and sellers. Below is a partial list of the real estate industry's ethical code for agents.

  • Treat all parties involved with the transaction fairly and honestly
  • Do not reveal a client's confidential information to other parties
  • Do not discriminate against any client or party to a transaction
  • Never mislead sellers or buyers about a property's value
  • Do not talk with clients about a community's religious, ethnic or racial composition
  • Place the best interests of the client above all other considerations

On the face of the matter, a minor ethics violation may not be enough to threaten your license. However, training yourself to follow such a code helps you develop practice standards that enhance your services and your reputation. In the end, proof of your compliance with the industry's code of ethics may help you and your lawyer create a successful professional license defense if anyone files a complaint against you.

Source: The Washington Post, "Here’s what your real estate agent may not tell you about ethics," Jill Chodorov Kaminsky, accessed March 22, 2018

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