Yesterday I attended a day of Legal and Ethics updates that are required every two years as part of Mandatory Continuing Education for every licensee in Texas. I actually take these courses more frequently … “just because.” Although I also attend required training every year in order to continue serving on our Professional Standards committee, and every ethics hearing I sit in on is an education in itself, I find that discussion of new “hot spots” for attention and recent cases is always worthwhile.
As important as the NAR Code is, I find the Texas Canons of Professional Ethics simple and complete:
A real estate broker or salesperson, while acting as an agent for another, is a fiduciary. Special obligations are imposed when such fiduciary relationships are created. They demand:
(1) that the primary duty of the real estate agent is to represent the interests of the agent’s client, and the agent’s position, in this respect, should be clear to all parties concerned in a real estate transaction; that, however, the agent, in performing duties to the client, shall treat other parties to a transaction fairly;
(2) that the real estate agent be faithful and observant to trust placed in the agent, and be scrupulous and meticulous in performing the agent’s functions;
(3) that the real estate agent place no personal interest above that of the agent’s client.
A real estate broker or salesperson has a special obligation to exercise integrity in the discharge of the licensee’s responsibilities, including employment of prudence and caution so as to avoid misrepresentation, in any wise, by acts of commission or omission.
It is the obligation of a real estate agent to be knowledgeable as a real estate brokerage practitioner. The agent should:
(1) be informed on market conditions affecting the real estate business and pledged to continuing education in the intricacies involved in marketing real estate for others;
(2) be informed on national, state, and local issues and developments in the real estate industry; and
(3) exercise judgment and skill in the performance of the work.
The 17 articles of the NAR Realtor® Code Of Ethics run a little over two pages — ten when all the Standards Of Practice are included, but these Canons from the Texas Real Estate Commission really get at the essence of what a real estate professional should be expected to do. Together, these documents are the foundation of the trust that a buyer or seller must have in this important relationship.