No Harm in Answering Friend's Request

You aren't honing in on someone else's client if you aren't the one initiating the dealings.

July 1, 2009

Q: An acquaintance of mine has her home exclusively listed for sale with a competing broker, but she told me in a phone conversation that she might change listing brokers. She asked me to look at her home, present a CMA, and discuss possibly taking on the listing. Would it be in violation of the Code of Ethics for me to follow through with this request without first getting permission from the broker who currently holds the listing? Or would this be OK because my acquaintance approached me about it?

A: It is not a violation of the Code for you to go on the listing call in these circumstances. Both Standard of Practice 16-6 and Standard of Practice 16-13 address this question.

Standard of Practice 16-6 states that "When REALTORS® are contacted by the client of another REALTOR® regarding the creation of an exclusive relationship to provide the same type of service, and REALTORS® have not directly or indirectly initiated such discussions, they may discuss the terms upon which they might enter into a future agreement or, alternatively, may enter into an agreement which becomes effective upon expiration of any existing exclusive agreement."

The key elements of this Standard are that the REALTOR® is contacted by the client and has not directly or indirectly initiated the call or the discussions. That is exactly what has happened here. Thus, you may go on the call, present the CMA, and discuss a future listing with your acquaintance.

The primary idea behind Standard of Practice 16-13 is "dealings." A REALTOR® may not conduct dealings with the client of another REALTOR® without the permission of the client’s exclusive representative or broker or without direction from the client.  Thus, there is no violation of the Code because the dealings were not initiated by you.

Bruce Aydt

Attorney Bruce Aydt, ABR, CRB, SRS, is a national real estate educator, a Missouri real estate broker, and past chair of the National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee.