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Ethics In Home Buying And Selling


The real estate market has seen a lot of activity in the past couple years. Homes in desirable locations have been selling for thousands of dollars over asking price. It’s definitely been a seller’s market.

Now things are cooling down. Buyers are starting to have the upper hand. Still, there are no guarantees. Sellers can decline any offer, even if it is the asking price or higher. Nobody has a legal right to buy a house. As long as a seller does not engage in discrimination based on a protected class (such as race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other class under the Fair Housing Act). Other than that, a seller has a lot of discretion in who they can sell their home to.

Sometimes sellers will base their opinion on which lender the buyer is using, although the Realtor tends to have more experience in this area and may try to sway the buyer to use a different lender. While real estate professionals are allowed to advise their clients about how these various lenders operate, it can be an ethical issue if the Realtor or even the seller is too pushy.

While a seller can require you to be pre-approved by their choice of lender just to make sure you are considered to be financeable, they cannot require you to obtain a loan from that lender. It can be an ethical violation for an agent to be too aggressive about pushing buyers to a certain lender. This is against the Realtor’s Code of Ethics because this can make things difficult for buyers. It can also prevent sellers from understanding and accepting legitimate offers. The code of ethics does not allow a real estate agent to speak ill of a lender or sway a buyer one way or the other. They have to try to stay neutral, and this can be a slippery slope.

The thing to remember is that sellers — not real estate agents — are the ones responsible for accepting or rejecting offers. Sellers are not covered by the Realtor Code of Ethics. However, a Realtor can be disciplined if they’re not fair to buyers.

Any advice they give must be in the client’s best interest. If it is in their interest only, it may violate the code. For example, promoting a family member’s mortgage company may be a violation under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), particularly if the real estate agent receives kickbacks from their involvement in those transactions.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Real Estate Broker License Lawyer

Real estate professionals need to be ethical with their interactions with home buyers. Pushing them to do something that they are not fully informed about can be an ethical violation.

A Tampa real estate broker license lawyer from The Law Offices of David P. Rankin, P.A. can help you with ethical issues against your license. I have been involved in several hundred license discipline proceedings before the Florida Real Estate Commission and was the attorney for the Greater Tampa Realtors for 18 years. Call (813) 968-6633 or fill out the online form to schedule a consultation.