Real Estate Agents Dating Clients: Is It Ethical?
People tend to meet others through their place of business. While a lot of people don’t want to mix business with pleasure, sometimes it happens. In some cases, especially for licensed professionals, it is illegal and unethical to date clients or patients. In some industries, though, there aren’t any rules prohibiting this behavior.
This is true in the real estate field, where agents and brokers will even flirt with clients to seal the deal. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for agents or clients to want to take things further romantically. While there may be no law that tells them they can’t, is it ethical?
The National Association of Realtors bans discrimination, racism, and hate speech. The association also prefers that real estate agents refrain from discussing politics and religion with clients. But there’s nothing banning agents from dating clients, so merely entering into a romantic relationship with a client does not immediately put an agent’s license in jeopardy.
Good real estate agents don’t just talk business. When finding someone a home, they need a lot of personal details. They want to know what kind of home a person is looking for, and that can be an intimate topic. Real estate agents get to know their clients’ finances, emotional states, domestic states, quirks, and specific needs. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for things to get romantic very quickly.
Getting romantically involved with a client can be tricky, though. What happens if the relationship doesn’t last? Will there be hurt feelings? How will that impact the real estate agent’s career? Even when the agent followed all professional standards when representing the client, there is always the risk that the client will become disappointed with the outcome of the relationship and misrepresent what the agent did or did not do.
There are no easy answers to these questions. Therefore, agents need to use their own moral compass and trust their gut. While real estate companies don’t usually have rules about these types of situations, the overall consensus is that brokers should use their best judgment and not get involved in a romantic relationship with a client until the business part is over. Once the home has closed or the lease has been signed, there is much less chance that the relationship could affect the agent’s license.
After all, real estate agents have a tough job. Generally speaking, they are in the hospitality business. They may introduce clients to new neighborhoods and offer advice about restaurants and other types of businesses in the area. When the deal closes, the agent may invite the client to a party or dinner. During the course of the transaction, the two have shared a lot of information with each other. They have spent a lot of time together. If there is an attraction, then having a relationship is naturally the next step.
Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Real Estate & Administrative Lawyer
While many real estate companies have no rules or limitations about dating clients, agents still need to use their best judgment. Things can get complicated and messy and in some cases, it can impact your career.
Are you facing administrative issues on your real estate license due to ethical issues? If so, contact Tampa real estate broker license lawyer David P. Rankin. 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.