I helped a buyer who had an exclusive relationship with another Realtor. I wrote an offer for one of my listings but only after the buyer asked me to do so. I asked the right questions before proceeding but faced a violation charge. What did I do wrong?
ORLANDO, Fla. – Dear Shannon: I recently faced a baffling situation as a listing broker. I helped a potential buyer who had an exclusive relationship with another Realtor by writing an offer for one of my listings.
I know that sounds bad, but the buyer asked me to write up the offer – and I only did so after clarifying my role as representing the seller and advising the buyer to consult his Realtor.
Now, somehow, I faced a violation charge under Article 16.
Here are a few more details: I met the buyer at an open house for one of my listings, asked if they were working with a Realtor, and was told “yes,” they were exclusively represented – but they went on to say they were also quite familiar with the property as a close personal friend previously owned it. I said I’d be happy to show them through the home, but made it clear that I represented the seller and not the buyer when showing them the house.
After viewing the home, the buyer indicated that he was seriously interested in the property and intended to discuss a possible purchase offer with his Realtor. I simply shared market information and told him there were several other buyers interested in the property. I said he was free to go back and discuss this with his broker if he liked, or I could help him write an offer – but I made it clear that the choice was his. Only after the buyer decided to make an offer and only AFTER he asked me for help writing the offer did I provide assistance.
If the buyer asked me to write the offer, how is this a violation? – Baffled
Dear Baffled: Thank you for reaching out with your concerns. Let’s review Standard of Practice 16-13 and analyze your situation based on what you’ve described.
Standard of Practice 16-13 states: All dealings concerning property exclusively listed, or with buyer/tenants who are subject to an exclusive agreement shall be carried on with the client’s representative or broker, and not with the client, except with the consent of the client’s representative or broker or except where such dealings are initiated by the client. Before providing substantive services (such as writing a purchase offer or presenting a CMA) to prospects, Realtors® shall ask prospects whether they are a party to any exclusive representation agreement. Realtors® shall not knowingly provide substantive services concerning a prospective transaction to prospects who are parties to exclusive representation agreements, except with the consent of the prospects’ exclusive representatives or at the direction of prospects. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/04) (Emphasis added.)
Among other things, Standard of Practice 16-13 prohibits Realtors from providing substantive services for buyers who are exclusively represented, except at the direction of the buyer. Offering to write a purchase offer is clearly a substantive service.
The issue is whether you provided this substantive service at the direction of the buyer. You argue that ultimately the buyer asked you to write the purchase offer. However, that’s not the full story. You said that you simply shared market information, mentioned that other buyers had expressed interest (insinuating the property’s quick sale), and offered to help draft an offer. It was only then that the buyer agreed to allow you to write the offer. Although, perhaps well-intentioned, this might have been perceived as influencing the buyer’s decision and initiating the transaction. This perception is what likely led to the finding of a violation.
To handle similar situations more effectively in the future:
- Prioritize transparency: Clearly state your role and respect exclusive relationships. Encourage buyers to consult their representatives for purchase offers. Better yet, contact the buyer’s broker and get permission.
- Avoid inducements: Be cautious when sharing market information that could be seen as influencing the buyer’s decision.
- Identify buyer-initiated actions: Always ensure that the buyer genuinely initiates requests for assistance.
- Review language: Carefully choose words to avoid potential misinterpretation or inducement, ensuring your actions are driven by the buyer.
While facing a violation charge can be disheartening, view this experience as an opportunity for professional growth. Maintaining ethical conduct is essential to preserve the profession’s integrity. Learn from this situation and let it bolster your confidence and integrity in navigating similar situations moving forward.
Inspired by Case Interpretations #16-13 & 16-14. Other laws and rules may apply.
Shannon Allen is an attorney and Florida Realtors Director of Local Association Services
Note: Information deemed accurate on date of publication
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