The 4-D's in Real Estate

Industry Observer with RETIRED / State License is Inactive Inactive License Oregon

The 4-D's in Real Estate


In a comment I left on a recent post, I mentioned the 4-D's of real estate, which I use in my daily practice.

I was inspired to write an article about the 4-D's . . . so, without further, or much ado, here are the 4-D's in real estate:


Disclose:    This is the Cardinal Rule of Real Estate: DISCLOSE.  So for that reason, it's placed in the No. 1 slot on the 4-D's in real estate.  Here are a few disclosures:

  • Condition of the property
  • Agency relationship
  • FSBO listings -- how to handle them with buyer clients 
  • How compensation is made to the broker both in listing, and in selling
  • Federal, state and local
  • Market conditions
  • Terms and conditions of a purchase and sale contract
  • and more . . . and so much more . . . OMIGOSH, there is so much more

NOTE:  When a bonafide fiduciary relationship is created between agent and client (under a listing agreement or a buyer rep agreement) FULL DISCLOSURE to the principal becomes the real estate agent's fiduciary duty!  

Here's a dose of enlightment:


Real estate agents have no agency relationship DUTIES to consumers


Real estate agent have no agency relationship DUTIES to the general public


Real estate agents have no agency relationship DUTIES to anyone self-representing


NOTE:  Disclosure is also made within the contractual forms, "disclosure" pamphlets, etc. that we may use in our real estate practice.  Disclosure can take many forms, literally and figuratively.  Real estate agents need to keep current on disclosures and what that may mean to principals, and non-principals, alike.


NOTE:  Disclosure isn't always found in forms, contracts, etc.  Disclosure can be made when we advice the client / potential client, AKA customer / general public how we practice real estate. Disclosure can be made individually and on an individual basis.


Discuss:  The discussion is second and makes sense to the 4-D progression.  Once the real estate agent has disclosed whatever it is they need to be disclosing, then the 2nd D occurs.

DISCUSS!  If you notice you cant' spell the word "discuss" without "US".

Now is the time to include the principal, the client, the customer, the consumer -- whomever -- into the conversation!  Get them involved.  Get their resolve!

Discussion should not be a one-sided event, in other words.  And the time for discussion is after the disclosure is made.


Decide:  It's not up to us to decide.  Although you can't spell the word "decide" without the "I" -- it's not the real estate agent's decision.  It's the clients who will decide.  It's the principals who will decide.  It may be the consumer who decides to list.  It may be the client who decides what the purchase price they will offer, etc.

Under contract, either a listing agreement or a buyer's rep agreement, we are under FIDUCIARY DUTY to act in the best interests of . . . ourselves?

Yeah, that's the sure fire way to get a code of ethics complaint filed.


After disclosure is made, when discussion has occured . . . then it's up to someone other than ourself to make that great decide

NOTE:  Real estate agents can make decesions, don't get me wrong.  We can decide not to take a listing.  We can decide not to work with a particular buyer . . . if we are in compliant with fair housing rules.  

When we are under a contract, then it becomes our fiduciary duty to represent the client.  To serve their needs and to place their best interests above our own.  And under contract (either a listing contract, or a buyer rep agreement) is when our clients make the decisions, and it's our duty to OBEY.  And yes, "obey" is a fiduciary duty of the real estate agent.  The decisions made are done by the principals, by the clients . . . and we can only disclose and discuss -- but the client decides.


Document:  Documentation is so very important.  And how you document the decisions your clients make, after disclosure, discussion and decision is predicated by what is actually decided.

  • Reduction is list price
  • "Limited" Agency 
  • Addenda
  • Purchase and sales contract
  • and more . . . so much more . . . OMIGOSH so much more.


For those who think real estate is easy . . . think again!

However, knowing the 4-D's should help you in your real estate practice.


Posted by



Carla Muss-Jacobs has RETIRED effective May 1, 2018

Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner ~~ INACTIVE

Carla Muss-Jacobs' retirement became effective May 1, 2018

Direct: 503-810-7192 


All Rights Reserved © 

Comments (32)

Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Carla,  Congratulations on a great Featured post.  I do these things but never put a name to it - 4 D's.  I love the "us" in Discuss!

Jan 17, 2016 10:51 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Carla, If real estate was easy anyone could do it … well.  The issue is many are doing it but not doing it well. They are violating the four D’s.  So glad to see this is Featured - Well done!

Jan 17, 2016 11:23 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Kathleen Daniels thanks for the comments, and not doing it well is just as bad!!

Jan 18, 2016 06:44 AM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Great name for a  Real Estate breakfast cereal.... 4-D's...Breakfast of agents

Jan 17, 2016 11:30 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Hi Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner a common sense post....and yet, so many have issues with a few of those D's.... a winner of a post...

Jan 18, 2016 06:00 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Thanks Barbara Todaro -- decide, I find, is the number one issue -- who decides?  It better be the client, IMHO.  

Jan 18, 2016 06:43 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Very good post.  Now excuse me, I'm off to call an agent guilty of not disclosing something to me and my clients....her ownership interest in the property.  (smh)

Jan 18, 2016 06:23 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

OMIGOSH . . . 

Well, if it's any consolation to you Chris Ann Cleland I just noticed the listing agent in a current transaction wrote all her addendum with a different Sales Agreement (contract) number. 

Jan 18, 2016 06:42 AM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner Your 4 D's get an A.

Great information you have shared to help us all with a list of best practices to follow.


Jan 18, 2016 09:19 AM
Stephen Haley
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA

Great Post!

Especially profound is the D for Decide.  

Jan 18, 2016 09:21 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I like your 4-D way of doing business Carla, they make perfect sense to me too!

Jan 18, 2016 09:52 AM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

I think the fourth D is the most important of the D's. Great post.

Jan 18, 2016 12:19 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I loved this post!  Very important and proof that not just anyone can be a Good & Professional REALTOR!  My favorite is DISCLOSE ... DISCLOSE ... DISCLOSE.

Jan 18, 2016 12:59 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner - as always, one more great post.

While represnting a buyer, it is very important - disclosure on the relationship and many other things.

And stress on Documentation for sure.

Jan 18, 2016 01:56 PM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I like the 4 Ds... Going to add that to my Three Ps for selling (price, promotion, presentation).

Jan 19, 2016 12:40 AM
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, Broker/Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Carla, great post and congrats on the feature. I also found this article about you in the latest Realtor Magazine:


Jan 25, 2016 08:19 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Yes, that was a nice write-up and Airbnb aren't for everyone.  Thanks Nick T Pappas 

Jan 29, 2016 01:45 AM
Debb Janes
Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
Put My Love of Nature At Work for You

Another knowledgeable post from you - and how cool to see you in Realtor Magazine. Congratulations, Carla. 

Jan 28, 2016 01:19 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Hi Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD . . . wow, what a great pairing (you two)!!  And thanks on both!

Jan 29, 2016 01:44 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Hi, Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner 

    I am looking at the print-version of Realtor Magazine...

 and there you are!


    Needless to say, frame it and display it on your wall.    

Jan 28, 2016 10:46 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Thanks Fred Griffin It's funny, when they asked for a photo, I used "old faithful" so people could/would be able to recognize me.  I'm due for a new one.  LOL  

Jan 29, 2016 01:46 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


This is an excellent summary! I think many buyers and sellers do not understand what we do to help them, and the importance of these matters. A few agents don't seem to, either.

Just saw your article in Realtor Magazine, but of course had heard about it through the AR grapevine which is so far reaching. Great job - there has been quite a lot of buzz recently about Airbnb and the issues it can raise in the housing market, and not all of it positive.  I haven't personally had buyers asking about these sorts of rentals but vacation rentals of more than a night are a hot topic, and prohibited in many areas. And there's the use and occupancy tax!


Jan 29, 2016 05:29 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

I'm going to make time to find my AR article about this, which was was Realtor mag contacted me.  Thanks for comment Jeff Dowler CRS 

Jan 29, 2016 06:08 AM
Dianne Hicks
Realty ONE Group - Poway, CA

Very well stated... and when you hit a dilma go back to back up to disclose and repeat... ;)

Mar 06, 2016 08:38 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Carla

I came back to read this again from Fred's reblog. I thought I had missed it but I hadn't but it was so well worth another read. I'm not sure which D is most important, if there is one. An excellent read for all agents, IMHO


Mar 13, 2016 01:34 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Carla - this blog is brilliantly put together.  Those four D will keep agents in compliance as well as make the best connection with their clients.

Apr 20, 2016 03:57 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm here from Fred's reblog. Somehow I missed this one!

Congrats on a well deserved feature! Great advice!

May 30, 2016 11:24 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED

Thanks for the comment Sharon Tara -- 

May 31, 2016 04:11 AM