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Code of Ethics Case Studies

Case #1-13: Obligation to Present Subsequent
Offers After an Offer to Purchase Has Been Accepted by the Seller

REALTOR® A had a 90-day exclusive listing on Seller X's property. Seller X instructed REALTOR® A to list the property at $150,000 based upon the sales price of a neighbor's house, which had sold a month earlier.

REALTOR® A aggressively marketed the property, filing the listing with the Board's MLS, running a series of advertisements in the local newspaper, holding several "Open Houses," and distributing flyers on the property at local supermarkets. REALTOR® A, whose listing contract was nearing expiration, held another "Open House" on the property, which resulted in an offer to purchase from Buyer Y at $15,000 less than the listed price. REALTOR® A, convinced that this was the best offer Seller X was likely to obtain, persuaded Seller X to accept the offer. Seller X expressed dissatisfaction with REALTOR® A's failure to obtain a full price offer, but signed the purchase agreement nonetheless.

The next day, REALTOR® B, a cooperating broker, delivered to REALTOR® A a full price offer on Seller X's property from Buyer Z. Buyer Z had attended an earlier "Open House" and was very enthusiastic about the home's location, stating that it would be perfect for his mother.

REALTOR® A advised REALTOR® B and Buyer Z that an offer had already been accepted by Seller X and that he, REALTOR® A, would not present Buyer Z's offer. REALTOR® B and Buyer Z then promptly filed a complaint with the Board charging REALTOR® A with a violation of Article 1, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 1-7.

At the hearing, REALTOR® A stated that he felt he was under no obligation to present Buyer Z's offer, since the listing agreement did not specifically provide that subsequent offers would be presented to the seller. Further, REALTOR® A felt that such a practice could only lead to controversy between buyers and sellers, as well as result in breached contracts. "Why get everyone in an uproar," said REALTOR® A, "by presenting offers after one has been accepted? And what would I do if Seller X wanted to back out of the first purchase contract and accept Buyer Z's offer?"

What do you think the hearing panel concluded? Show Answer