Professional Standards: Case Interpretation – Article 1

Each week, we’ll provide you with a case interpretation of an Article from the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS.  Let us know what you think!

Case #1-5: Promotion of Client’s Interests

(Originally Case #7-6. Revised May, 1988. Transferred to Article 1 November, 1994.)

Client A gave an exclusive listing on a house to REALTOR® B, stating that he thought $132,500 would be a fair price for the property. REALTOR® B agreed and the house was listed at that price in a 90-day listing contract. REALTOR® B advertised the house without response, showing it to a few prospective buyers who lost interest when they learned the price. In a sales meeting in his office, REALTOR® B discussed the property, advised his associates that it appeared to be overpriced, and that advertising and showing of the property had proved to be a waste of time and money.

After six weeks had gone by without a word from REALTOR® B, Client A called REALTOR® B’s office without identifying himself, described the property, and asked if the firm was still offering it for sale. The response he received from one of REALTOR® B’s nonmember associates was: “We still have the house listed, but there is little interest in it because, in our opinion, it is overpriced and not as attractive a value as other property we can show you.”

Client A wrote to the Board of REALTOR® complaining of REALTOR® B’s action, charging failure to promote and protect the client’s interest by REALTOR® B’s failure to advise the client of his judgment that the price agreed upon in the listing contract was excessive, and by REALTOR® B’s failure to actively seek a buyer.

In a hearing on the complaint before a Hearing Panel of the Board’s Professional Standards Committee, REALTOR® B’s response was that Client A had emphatically insisted that he wanted $132,500 for the property; that by advertising and showing the property he had made a diligent effort to attract a buyer at that price; that in receiving almost no response to this effort he was obliged to conclude that the house would not sell at the listed price; that in view of the client’s attitude at the time of listing, he felt it would be useless to attempt to get Client A’s agreement to lower the listed price; and that he had instructed his staff not to actively market the property at that price.

The Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® B was in violation of Article 1; that he had been unfaithful in his obligations in not advising his client of his conclusion that the property was overpriced, based on the response to his initial sales efforts; and in withholding his best efforts to bring about a sale of the property in the interests of his client.