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.