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Once again I find myself asking the question, do Realtor ethics really matter? Presumably, one of the principal reasons for using a Realtor is the fact that we are bound by a "strict" code of ethics. In many instances, however, the Realtor Code of Ethics seems to fall short of its stated goals.
Case in point, time on the market. On my MLS (and many others, I presume), when a listing expires and is renewed, the listing Realtor has the option to either re-enter as a new listing, or to show the renewed listing as an extension of the original listing. By making a property appear to be new to the market, the listing agent is of course trying to gain a sales advantage. But how can this be considered to be anything other than a deceptive trade practice?
Some argue that if a property is re-listed with a new broker, it should be considered a new listing. Others argue that if the listing expired fifteen days ago, or thirty, or whatever, that is should be considered a new listing when it is re-listed. But what about a property which is re-listed with the same broker either prior to or at the time the previous listing agreement expires? How can this possibly be considered a new listing?
I think the simple answer is that it cannot. We must turn to the Realtor Code of Ethics to determine whether this practice is ethical. Under Article I, Realtors are obligated to treat all parties honestly. Article XII requires that Realtors shall be careful at all time to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public. In my opinion, by misrepresenting actual time on market, a Realtor violates both Articles I and XII of the Code of Ethics. How can this possibly be justified, from an ethical standpoint? Just because everyone else is doing it does not cut the mustard, folks.
Nowhere is the traditional Realtor perspective on this issue more evident than in Bob Hunt's recent column for Realty Times, Time on Market: Elusive and Controversial Concept. Mr. Hunt is a director of the National Association of Realtors. In his column, he describes a situation where "123 Elm Street" was entered into the MLS system as listing number "L200". The listing expires after ninety days and is immediately re-listed with new listing number "L250". Ten days after being re-listed, the MLS shows the property as having been on the market for only ten days, even though it has actually been for sale for the past 100 days.
Mr. Hunt points out that "Some feel that a process such as just described is misleading. They believe that the new listing for 123 Elm Street should show that it has been for sale for the past 100 days. And they have a point." Absolutely they have a point, Mr. Hunt. How could this not be considered misleading?
Betraying what I feel to be the traditional Realtor establishment's anti-consumer bias, Mr. Hunt goes on to state parenthetically, "(Though we also might want to ask just who is misled, and whether we care that they are misled)."
Who is misled? Perhaps other Realtors who relied on the days on market information contained in the MLS system. Should other Realtors be required to conduct a full-blown investigation to determine whether the listing broker is trying to pull a fast one on them? Is this any way to do business? Unwitting consumers, perhaps, who relied on the "bogus" information contained in the listing sheet given to them by the seller's agent, or perhaps even by their own agent, who failed to verify the actual time on market.
Do we care that they are misled? I certainly do. Which brings me to my initial question. Does the Realtor Code of Ethics really matter? Coming from a Director of the National Association of Realtors, I find Mr. Hunt's commentary to be disturbing. I thought treating all parties honestly was an obligation of all Realtors. If not, then the Realtor Code of Ethics isn't worth the paper it is printed on.
Northern Michigan Real Estate news, commentary and market information published by Stefan Scholl, real estate attorney, exclusive buyer agent and broker/owner of Buyer's Broker of Northern Michigan, LLC.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.