The NAR Code of Ethics Article 11 is explicit in setting forth REALTORS®’ responsibilities to refrain from attempting to provide service for which they are inadequately prepared. It requires that REALTORS® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence. Applied very broadly, there is always something new and different with every transaction. This provision, however, is applied more narrowly, to situations for which we are not competent.
You don’t have to reject the business if it is outside of your area of competence, but you do need to do either or both of two things.
For example, if a REALTOR® as a residential broker with no commercial experience was asked to market a complex business property, the REALTOR® would be obligated to disclose to the client that the REALTOR® did not possess the experience and expertise to provide the requested service. In certain instances, a prospective client may value the general abilities and integrity of a particular REALTOR® and may insist on engaging that REALTOR®’s services despite the REALTOR®’s lack of experience and competency needed to undertake the assignment. In such a case, the REALTOR® may undertake the assignment if, having fully disclosed his lack of experience, the REALTOR® obtains assistance from someone competent in the field. The REALTOR® must fully inform the client as to whose assistance was utilized and the degree to which that person contributed to the assignment. Even if you’ve paid for that assistance, don’t neglect to identify the party giving assistance. It is a code violation by itself not to so identify the party providing significant assistance.
An Article 11 violation can result in anything from simple letters of warning to expulsion from REALTOR membership. Between these extremes are mandatory attendance at remedial educational sessions, fines, probation, and suspension. Just don’t.
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