GMAR Ethics Thursday
Today, the GMAR is starting a bi-monthly newsletter, Ethics Thursday, focusing on REALTOR® ethics. It will be delivered to the entire GMAR membership on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month.

The Association is creating 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®.

Over the last couple of years, the Board of Directors, GMAR members, and the Association's staff, have noticed a decrease in cordial behavior that most business relationships rely on to thrive. That erosion of cordiality has manifested itself in more overt, borderline ethical breaches.

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.

Your thoughts, ideas and opinions are always welcome!

  The Code of Ethics
NAR's Code of Ethics, adopted in 1913, was one of the first codifications of ethical duties adopted by any business group. The Code ensures that consumers are served by requiring REALTORS® to cooperate with each other in furthering clients' best interests.
Check out the REALTOR® Code of Ethics website and see all of the free educational and informational resources available to you.

Case Interpretation #16-20
Continued Contact With Potential Seller Who Enters Into an Exclusive Listing With Another REALTOR®
At the conclusion of a detailed listing presentation, REALTOR® B asked the sellers whether they had any questions. "No," said Seller Z. "Your presentation was professional and complete and we very much appreciate your time. We have appointments with two other realty firms and after we talk to them we'll make our decision." REALTOR® B thanked the sellers and encouraged them to contact him with any questions they might have. "I really look forward to being your broker," he added.
Several days later, REALTOR® B noticed that Seller Z's property had come on the market, listed with REALTOR® A. REALTOR® B and REALTOR® A were friends, but were also quite competitive, both frequently pursuing the same potential seller-clients. "I wonder why Seller Z decided to list with REALTOR® A," mused REALTOR® B, "it won't matter if I just call and ask why they decided to list with my friend REALTOR® A instead of me." REALTOR® B called the sellers and left a message on their answering machine asking for a return call at their convenience.
That evening, Seller Z returned REALTOR® B's phone call. REALTOR® B started the conversation by thanking Seller Z and his wife for their time. "What I'd like to know is why you chose to give your listing to REALTOR® A instead of me?" he then asked. "Don't get me wrong, REALTOR® A is a good broker and will do a good job for you. I'm not suggesting you cancel your listing with REALTOR® A but if your listing expires and REALTOR® A hasn't sold it, I'd be pleased to talk to you about listing with me."
Seller Z did not follow up on REALTOR® B's offer and the following weekend at REALTOR®A's open house Seller Z and his wife recounted REALTOR® B's follow-up phone call. Over the next few days REALTOR® A debated filing an ethics complaint. He weighed his friendship with REALTOR® B against what he saw as his duty to bring potentially unethical conduct to the attention of the association of REALTORS®. Somewhat reluctantly, he filed an ethics complaint alleging a violation of
Article 16, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 16-13.
At the hearing, REALTOR® A called Seller Z as a witness. Seller Z faithfully recounted the substance of REALTOR® B's conversation with Seller Z and his wife, commenting that while REALTOR® B had said he was only trying to understand why he hadn't been given the listing, it appeared to Seller Z that REALTOR® B wanted Seller Z to cancel his listing with REALTOR® A. Then REALTOR® B testified in his own defense. He acknowledged he had been aware that REALTOR® A had already exclusively listed the property when he contacted Seller Z and asked for a follow-up appointment. He defended his actions stating he was not trying to induce Seller Z to cancel the listing, he was simply trying to find out what he had said - or failed to say - that led Seller Z to list with REALTOR® A instead of with him, and wanted Seller Z and his wife to be fully aware of the services he would provide if their listing with REALTOR® A expired.
The Hearing Panel did not agree with REALTOR® B's defense, noting that REALTOR® B's curiosity or desire to enhance his listing presentation skills did not justify continued contact with a potential seller-client after that seller had entered into an exclusive representation agreement with another broker. REALTOR® B was found in violation of Article 16 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 16-13.

Case Interpretation #16-21
Continued Contact With Potential Seller Who Enters Into an Exclusive Listing With Another REALTOR®

REALTOR® P and Ms. Q had been members of the church choir for several years and had become social friends. One evening after choir practice Ms. Q mentioned that now that her children were grown and out of the family home, she and her husband were seriously considering downsizing. "I'm sure I can help you with that," said REALTOR® P, "I'm going away for the weekend but I'll get in touch with you early next week."
The following Monday evening REALTOR® P called Ms. Q. After exchanging pleasantries, REALTOR® P turned the conversation toward business. "I've identified some comparable sales to show you and I'd like to come over and visit with you and your husband to discuss listing your home," she said. After a lengthy pause, Ms. Q shared with REALTOR® P that her husband had been very anxious to get started and over the weekend they had visited several local real estate brokerages and had listed their home with REALTOR® B. "I hope you understand," said Ms. Q, "my husband was very impressed with REALTOR® B and his plans for selling our house."  REALTOR® P responded positively telling Ms. Q, "I know REALTOR® B. He'll do a fine job for you. If there is ever anything I can do for you in the future, never hesitate to call me." On that note, REALTOR® P and Ms. Q ended their conversation.
The next afternoon REALTOR® B was at the Q's home placing his "For Sale" sign on their front lawn. Ms. Q invited REALTOR® B into the house for coffee. During their conversation, she mentioned her conversation the evening before with REALTOR® P, commenting, "I was so relieved that REALTOR® P wasn't upset that I didn't list with her. She was very gracious and even suggested that I should call her if she could be of assistance to us in the future." REALTOR® B said nothing about Ms. Q's remark, but after returning to his office filled out the paperwork necessary to file an ethics complaint against REALTOR® P, charging her with violating Article 16, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 16-13.
At the hearing convened to consider the complaint, REALTOR® B testified that REALTOR® P had directly contacted his exclusive client, Ms. Q, and after Ms. Q had shared with REALTOR® P the fact that the Q's home had been listed by REALTOR® B, had not immediately terminated their telephone conversation. "Even worse," said REALTOR® B, "REALTOR® P told Ms. Q that she should call her if there was ever anything she could do for her.REALTOR® P's offer to be of assistance 'at any time in the future' was simply a thinly-veiled attempt to convince the Q's to cancel their listing with me and to list with her.
REALTOR® P, testifying in her defense, noted that she did not know the Q's property had been listed by REALTOR® B when she called Ms. Q; that when Ms. Q informed her they had listed their property with REALTOR® B she had responded courteously, professionally, and positively, assuring Ms. Q that REALTOR® B would do a good job for the Qs; and that her offer was simply to be of assistance in future real estate transactions, possibly the purchase of a new home or condominium. "Once I learned that REALTOR® B had listed the Q's property, I ended our telephone conversation as quickly and as politely as I could," concluded REALTOR® P, "I certainly was not trying to interfere in REALTOR® B's exclusive contract with the Qs."
After giving careful consideration to the testimony of both parties, the Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® P had not violated Article 16 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 16-13, and that her offer to be of assistance in the future was simply a polite way to end the conversation.
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