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 #1-14: Conditioning Submission of Purchase Offer on Execution of a Prelisting Agreement
(Adopted May, 1988 as Case #7-18. Transferred to Article 1 November, 1994. Revised November, 2001.)
Owner A listed his home with REALTOR® B on an exclusive listing which was disseminated through the Multiple Listing Service.
Mr. C, a recent transferee to the city, was represented by REALTOR® D, who showed Mr. and Mrs. C a number of properties. Of the properties they had seen, Mr. and Mrs. C decided that Owner A’s home was the only one that suited their needs. They told REALTOR® D they were prepared to make a full price offer to maximize their chances of purchasing the home.
REALTOR® D agreed to write the offer, but first produced a prelisting agreement which, if signed, would obligate Mr. and Mrs. C to give REALTOR® D or his assigns the exclusive right to sell the property for 90 days should they ever decide to list the property for sale.
Mr. and Mrs. C objected to committing to a future listing, but REALTOR® D insisted he would not prepare or submit their offer to REALTOR® B and Owner A unless the C’s signed the prelisting agreement. Mr. and Mrs. C left without making an offer or signing the prelisting agreement. The next morning they called REALTOR® D stating that if the property was still available they would enter into the prelisting agreement since they still wanted to purchase the house. The prelisting agreement and the purchase offer were signed, their offer was accepted by Owner A, and the sale subsequently closed. After the closing, Mr. and Mrs. C filed an ethics complaint with the local Board of REALTORS®, alleging a violation of Article 1 on the part of REALTOR® D.
At the hearing, REALTOR® D defended his actions arguing that his conduct in no way had injured the buyers or sellers. He noted that Owner A’s home had sold at the full price, and Mr. and Mrs. C purchased the home they wanted at a price they were willing to pay. In addition, REALTOR® D was prepared to put forth his best efforts to sell Mr. and Mrs. C’s home if they ever decided to sell.
After hearing the evidence and testimony, the Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® D had violated Article 1. By entering into a principal/client relationship, REALTOR® D was obligated to protect and promote his clients’ interests. The Hearing Panel concluded that by conditioning submission of his clients’ offer on their signing a prelisting agreement, REALTOR® D had placed his financial gain ahead of his clients’ interests, which is prohibited under Article 1.