Professional Ethics Secrets and the Code of Conduct in Realtor Circles
Each profession has its own rules of conduct, good taste, special taboos, and sometimes quite specific prohibitions. The real estate environment is no exception — real estate agents have their own professional ethics, which you will learn more about below.
For example, there are often disputes about shares in the division of commissions between agents. The cornerstone of these conflicts can be the question of who will get an interesting client, who crossed whose path, hid or distorted important information, and so on. There are also cases of negative PR and sometimes outright slander among real estate agents. At the same time, the slanderers often don’t realize in what light they, themselves, appear before the client, and how badly they spoil their own reputation.
To avoid such embarrassment and trouble, it is important not only to have an understanding of the professional ethics of realtors, but also to adhere to its laws.
There’s a skeleton in every closet
It is noteworthy that there is no single set of rules of conduct for realtors — the laws for real estate agents vary depending on the region, union and association to which a particular specialist belongs.
For example. Realtors working in the Russian Federation today have their own ethical standards, like most other professional associations. Nevertheless, for example, the «Russian Guild of Realtors» and the «Guild of Managers and Developers» have very similar codes of conduct, but still differ from each other.
Also in Russia, in 2020, the transition to the International Quality Standards for Brokerage Services (REABS), developed by the Royal Institute of Certified Appraisers (RICS), has begun — a7 major players in the real estate market have already switched to these rules.
What rules should RICS member companies adhere to?
Below are the 12 main REABS rules that RICS certified realtors must adhere to:
- Work transparently and openly, and act fairly.
- Perform their duties in good faith, surround the client with professional attention, providing the services of qualified personnel.
- Act in accordance with the letter of the law and the professional code — communicate all the terms of cooperation to the clients as clearly and easily as possible, be open to proposals, discuss possible claims, and reimburse losses.
- Avoid conflicts of interest by all means and, if they exist, resolve disputes that have arisen as quickly, transparently and fairly as possible.
- Avoid biased and unfair judgments and actions in business relationships.
- Guarantee the client timely information on cooperation issues in an accessible form.
- Ensure objectivity, reliability and compliance with the moral norms of all marketing activities, including advertising materials.
- Guarantee the safety, security and insurance of funds belonging to the client.
- Take care of professional liability insurance before the client and partners from mistakes, human factor — take all measures to protect the client from risks and damage that they may suffer through the fault of the real estate company.
- Ensure that you understand your obligations to each of the parties whose interests you represent in the course of your work as a RICS member realtor.
- Provide the client with access to reliable information about the cost of buying, selling or renting real estate and the associated costs of owning / maintaining the property, based on the state of affairs in the industry market and other factors.
- Ensure that all displays of the object meet the wishes and needs of the client, as well as the safety standards of all parties to the transaction.
A certificate = quality and good faith?
The Code of Ethics for Real Estate Agents was developed with the aim of creating an honest and open community of professionals, favoring transparent cooperation and effective provision of services to clients. To do this, RICS requires all members of the community to pass a certification examination.
At first glance, the certificate is an unconditional guarantee of the realtor’s professionalism, but here, too, nuances are possible. For example, any real estate company that has at least one employee who has passed the appropriate certification and received a certificate can join the international ethical standards of RICS.
Thus, when contacting such an office, clients can be misled, because the exam for compliance with international quality standards was passed by just one, and not all of the company’s employees. Also on this basis, speculation with the cost of services is possible under the guise of these certificates.
And a word about awareness
Not all Russians who want to buy or sell real estate understand the benefits of joining a real estate firm with REABS. Therefore, in the main, large companies operating in the international market will strive to receive such a certificate, since these regalia have more weight for foreign clients than for our compatriots. Ordinary firms mainly cooperating with Russian clientele may not have such a certificate, which does not at all detract from the quality of their services and professionalism.
What this means:
- The presence of the REABS certificate can indicate the high level of all specialists of the company or only one.
- The presence of the REABS certificate in itself does not guarantee the quality of service in a particular company.
- Some brokers consider this certification a simple formality — not all reseller offices, in principle, will strive to obtain it.
Therefore, it is still difficult to judge whether the RICS membership of a real estate agency is evidence of its professionalism or just a status attribute.