The Code of Ethics of the National Associate of Realtors® (NAR) establishes a public and professional consensus against which the practice and conduct of Realtors and Realtor-Associates may be judged.
Each month we will provide Case Interpretations directly from NAR®. The case interpretations offer examples of the practical application of the Code in professional standards enforcement and help Realtors understand the ethical obligations created by the Code of Ethics.
Case #1-12: Presentation of Subsequent Offers After an Offer to Purchase Had Been Accepted by the Seller
(Adopted November, 1987 as Case #7-16. Transferred to Article 1 November, 1994.)
REALTOR® A, the listing broker, presented an offer to purchase to his client, Seller X, which was $20,000 less than the property’s listed price. The property had been on the market for several months and had not generated much interest. In his presentation, REALTOR® A told Seller X that, in his opinion, the offer was a good one and Seller X should consider accepting it. “With interest rates on their way up again,” said REALTOR® A, “properties are just not moving the way they did six months ago.” Seller X decided to accept the offer and the transaction closed. Several months after the sale, Seller X filed a complaint against REALTOR® A alleging a violation of Article 1, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 1-7. It had come to Seller X’s attention that a second offer had been made on the property after Seller X had accepted the first offer but prior to closing. This second offer, alleged Seller X, had not been submitted to him by REALTOR® A and was for $2,500 more than the first offer. Seller X’s complaint stated that by not presenting the second offer to him, REALTOR® A had not acted in his (the seller’s) best interest, as required by Article 1.
At the hearing, REALTOR® A produced a copy of the listing contract, which contained a provision reading: “Seller agrees that Broker’s responsibility to present offers to purchase to Seller for his consideration terminates with Seller’s acceptance of an offer.” REALTOR® A told the Hearing Panel that he had explained this provision to Seller X at the listing presentation and that Seller X had agreed to it, as indicated by Seller X’s signature on the listing contract.
Seller X admitted that he had understood and agreed to the provision at the time he listed the property, but he felt that REALTOR® A should have advised him of the second, higher offer nonetheless.
The Hearing Panel found REALTOR® A not in violation of Article 1. In their decision, the panel noted that REALTOR® A had explained the contract provision relieving him of the obligation to submit subsequent offers to Seller X; that Seller X had agreed to the provision and had signed the listing contract; and that, while it was unfortunate that Seller X had received less than full price for the property, REALTOR® A had fulfilled his obligations under the listing contract once the first offer to purchase had been accepted by Seller X.