GMAR Ethics Thursday
Welcome to Issue #3 of Ethics Thursday.

The GMAR created this newsletter, dedicated to a specific issue, because the REALTOR® Code of Ethics is the foundation on which our industry is built, and the basis of what it means to be a REALTOR®.

Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS® and the public that every member of the GMAR operates with the highest ethical standards.

Teams and Advertising
The GMAR's Professional Standards Committee recently found team leaders in violation of Article 12 for advertising sales production based on the sales of all of their team members, and not just their own sales production.
For example, should a Realtor® advertise that they are "number one" in sales within a defined geographic region, and those sales reports are a compilation of transactions completed from the team leaders' entire sales team, and were not indicative of the transactions completed individually, a violation of Article 12 may have occurred.   
Hearing panels concluded that if a team leader attributed the teams' compiled sales to the entire team, there would not be a violation Article of 12. It is recommended that team leaders make a clear distinction in sales reporting data attributed between themselves and their teams, when making public representations based on information supplied by the GMAR or the MLS.

Recent Ethics Decision: (Broker Altered an Offer to Purchase)  
Panel's Finding of Fact

The respondent obtained the complainant's signature on an offer to purchase. The respondent advised that he was informed by the complainant's lender that more earnest money was needed to put down in order for the complainant to qualify for the loan. The respondent proceeded to change the complainant's offer, (utilizing "whiteout") after it was signed, and without her permission, increasing the earnest money from $500 to $5,000. Following the change, the respondent submitted the offer to the lender.  The complainant learned about the unauthorized changes in her offer to purchase when she was contacted by the lender. The lender asked her how she was going to come up with the additional $4,500.
Disciplinary Action Taken

Respondent was directed to pay a fine in the amount of $3,500 and complete a class on real estate contract law, and real estate ethics.  
The Hearing Panel found the Respondent in violation of Articles 1 and 9 of the Code of Ethics.

Article 1
When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, REALTORS® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly. 
Article 9 
REALTORS®, for the protection of all parties, shall assure whenever possible that all agreements related to real estate transactions including, but not limited to, listing and representation agreements, purchase contracts, and leases are in writing in clear and understandable language expressing the specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party to such agreements upon their signing or initialing. 
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