Each month, 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 #2-8 Misrepresentation
Realtor A listed a motel for sale and prepared a sales prospectus setting out figures reporting the operating experience of the owner in the preceding year. The prospectus contained small type at the bottom of the page stating that the facts contained therein, while not guaranteed as to accuracy, were “accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief,” and carried the name of Realtor A as the broker.
Buyer B received the prospectus, inspected the property, discussed the operating figures in the prospectus and other features with Realtor A, and signed a contract.
Six months after taking possession, Buyer B ran across some old records that showed discrepancies when compared with the figures in Realtor A’s prospectus. Buyer B had not had as profitable an operating experience as had been indicated for the previous owner in the prospectus, and the difference could be substantially accounted for by these figures. He filed a charge of misrepresentation against Realtor A with Realtor A’s Board.
At the hearing, Realtor A took responsibility for the prospectus, acknowledging that he had worked with the former owner in its preparation. The former owner had built the motel and operated it for five years. Realtor A explained that he had advised him that $10,000 in annual advertising expenses during these years could reasonably be considered promotions expenses in establishing the business, and need not be shown as annually recurring items. Maid service, he also advised, need not be an expense item for a subsequent owner if the owner and his family did the work themselves. Realtor A cited his disclaimer of a guarantee of accuracy. Buyer B testified that he had found maid service a necessity to maintain the motel, and it was apparent that the advertising was essential to successful operation. He protested that the margin of net income alleged in the prospectus could not be attained as he had been led to believe by Realtor A.
The Hearing Panel concluded that Realtor A had engaged in misrepresentation by omitting from the prospectus information which he reasonably should have known to be relevant and significant and that the disclaimer did not, in any respect, avoid his obligation of full disclosure.
Realtor A was found in violation of Article 2