What Are Agents Required to Know?

REALTOR® Outlook

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

April 23, 2006

While REALTORS® are not experts, we are required to complete diligent visual inspections of properties to assist our buyers and sellers in providing good information and make good decisions.

There is a trend these days for REALTORS® to work outside their locales. This can complicate the life of everyone in a transaction when important information may not be readily apparent to the buyer and the buyer’s agent.

REALTORS® working in their areas of familiarity are required to know about traditions, trends and some history, particularly when it comes to potential for flooding, settling and slippage, property uses and zone changes.

When a real estate licensee joins a local Board or Association of REALTORS®, he or she agrees to conform his or her conduct to the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics.

The Code of Ethics is comprised of a Preamble and 17 Articles, with corresponding Standards of Practice that support and interpret each Article.  Case Interpretations provided by NAR demonstrate the application of the Articles to particular fact situations.

There are often questions asked about how detailed REALTORS® are to be when completing their inspections. Practices vary from office to office, but the Civil Code is clear. The method of obtaining it and delivering it is not.

Article 2 – Discovery and Disclosure; Standard of Practice 2-1 states as follows:

“REALTORS® shall only be obligated to discover and disclose adverse factors reasonably apparent to someone with expertise in those areas required by their real estate licensing authority.  Article 2 does not impose upon the REALTOR® the obligation of expertise in other professional or technical disciplines.”

A REALTOR® is only required to make reasonable inquiry and is not obligated to discover those things that require professional expertise outside the field of real estate.

However, in the exercise of their fiduciary duty to their clients, agents are required to assist their clients in discovery and to share important data, known as  “common knowledge”, particularly to clients from outside the area.  We are also held accountable for what we should know.

REALTORS® want their clients to know as much as possible and most will do what they can to be good providers of information. However, there is no substitute for your own research as well.

If you have any questions as to ethics guidelines, you can visit the www.realtor.org website and learn about them.


Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and brings a regional perspective to local issues. She can be reached at 340.5025.

About Kay Wilson-Boltonhttp://www.kaywilsonbolton.netWith a full-time career in real estate, I can add to your bank of knowledge, not only in real estate but in many areas of life that deal with people and relationships and choices. My real estate career has taught me many lessons about planning ahead and looking forward. I believe in helping along the way so that they can be the best they can be in any situation. I serve as a Fire Department Chaplain and Coordinator for the Many Meals Project which serves homeless and hungry families in my community. The event is far more than many meals. As a result of my work with the homeless population in my community, I received the Good Neighbor Award 2017 from the National Association of Realtors and named as a Champion of Homes in 2015 by the California Association of Realtors. I make pastoral visits to the inmates in the County Jail System and offer them what God says about "all things being new" and His remarkable plan for our lives. I have served my community as Mayor and in many volunteer capacities. I serve others by serving God first. My husband is involved in prison ministry and is a graphic artist. We live a simple life in Santa Paula with an office cat named Scout, three rescued poodles and a cat named Tony Diane at home.

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