Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Interpreting the Code of Ethics

I got a good weird call today from an agent who showed one of my listings.  It was a good call, because her buyers love the place and said they want to write an offer.  It was a weird call because when I told her we had an offer in counter, she paused. 

"How much?" she asked.


"You have to tell me how much the other offer is.  It's in The Code.  Standard of Practice 1-15."

"Um, and which code might that be?  Send me the cite and I'll read it, but I don't think we're supposed to divulge the price and terms of an offer that is in counter."

Turns out, she took a course yesterday.  The attorney who conducted it called me a few minutes later and said that, yes, I had to tell her the terms of the other offer that came in.  And once again, I asked for a specific cite and suggested he send me a link. 

Now NAR has a Standard of Practice 1-15.  It reads:

REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized, REALTORS® shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker. (Adopted 1/03, Amended 1/09))

I'm not a lawyer, and this lawyer who gave the class was on the other end of my IPhone.  I'm parsing the sentence, and I can't find anything that says I gotta blab about the details of the other offer, only that one exists, that neither I nor one of my office co-workers wrote it.  But he's a lawyer.  I'm not.

So I called my favorite lawyer/Realtor® - Northern Virginia's own Brian Block.  He said something very wise.  Do what your clients tell you to do.

My clients then, at my request, sent me instructions that said in totally unambiguous language that I was not to disclose the price or terms of any offer that had been submitted on their property. 

I asked the attorney who is training the next generation of young northern Virginia agents to please email me the specifics to back up his interpretation of Code, and he might be right.  It also occurred to me that it could be a Virginia Association of Realtors section, or maybe something promulgated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that it might trump the NAR code.

But I can't imagine a scenario where it would be in my client's interest to disclose the terms and conditions of an offer, either one in counter or one that's been accepted but not settled. 

I'll let you know how it turns out.


Comment balloon 54 commentsPatricia Kennedy • February 25 2009 08:12PM
Interpreting the Code of Ethics
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