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Code of Ethics Case Studies

Case #1-10: Obligations Under Exclusive Listing

At the time Client A signed an exclusive listing agreement with REALTOR® B, they discussed market conditions and prevailing prices, and agreed on listing at $156,900. After six weeks with no apparent interest in the house, Client A called REALTOR® B to learn why his property was receiving scant attention from prospective buyers. REALTOR® B said, "It's not hard to diagnose the trouble. Your property is overpriced. That was clear to me by the time we had it listed for ten days. In this market, it would take a really interested buyer to go as high as $149,000 for it. That's why it hasn't been possible for us to push it." "When you reached that conclusion why didn't you tell me?" asked Client A. "Because," said REALTOR® B, "it wouldn't have done any good. I know from experience that sellers can't be convinced that they are overpricing their property until they get tired of waiting for an offer that will never come. Now that the market has taught you something that you would not take as advice, let's reduce the price to $148,000 and push it."

Client A complained about REALTOR® B to the Board of REALTORS®, detailing these circumstances, strongly insisting that REALTOR® B had fully agreed with him on the price at which the property was originally listed.

Client A reiterated this point strongly at the hearing of his complaint, which was held before a Hearing Panel of the Board's Professional Standards Committee. REALTOR® B did not contest this, taking the position that at the time of the listing it was his judgment that a price of $156,900 was fair and obtainable in the market. He stated that a strong immediate sales effort had convinced him that the listed price was excessive, and he defended his resulting actions by stating that many years of experience as a broker had convinced him that once a seller decides on a definite price for his property, no argument or analysis will shake his insistence on getting that price; that only inaction in the market is convincing to the sellers.

Based on your understanding of the Code of Ethics Article 1, what do you think the hearing panel concluded? Show Answer