CODE OF ETHICS AND STANDARDS OF PRACTICE
DUTIES TO THE PUBLIC
The real estate agent or valuer shall endeavour to eliminate in his community any practices which could be damaging to the public or to the dignity and integrity of the real estate profession. The services which the real estate agent or valuer provides to his clients and customers shall conform to the standards of practice and competence reasonably expected in the specific real estate disciplines in which he engages (for example, residential real estate dealing, real property management, commercial and industrial real estate dealing, real estate valuation, real estate counseling, real estate syndication, real estate auction and international real estate).
Standard of Practice 1-1
When asked to make a formal appraisal of real property, the real estate agent or valuer must not render an opinion without careful and thorough analysis and interpretation of all factors affecting the value of the property. His counsel constitutes a professional service.
Standard of Practice 1-2
When a valuer prepares an opinion of real property value or price, other than in pursuit of a listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer, such opinion shall include the following:
• identification of the subject property
• date prepared
• defined value or price
• limiting conditions, including statements of purpose(s) and intended user(s)
• basis for the opinion, including applicable market data
• if the opinion is not an appraisal, a statement to that effect.
Standards of Practice 1-3
The obligation of the Code of Ethics in respect of real estate disciplines other than that of valuer shall be interpreted and applied in accordance with the standards of competence and practice which clients and the public reasonably require to protect their rights and interests considering the complexity of the transaction, the availability of expert assistance and where the real estate agent is an agent or subagent, the obligations of a fiduciary.
The real estate agent or valuer shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside his field of competence unless he engages the assistance of one who is competent in such types of service or property, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client. Any persons engaged to provide such assistance shall be so identified to the client and their contribution to the assignment should be set forth.
The real estate agent or valuer shall co-operate with and assist the Realtors Association (St. Lucia) Ltd. if charged with unethical practice or asked to present evidence in any other way, in any professional standards proceeding or investigation.
Standard of Practice 3–1
The real estate agent or valuer shall not make any unauthorized disclosure or dissemination of the allegations, findings, or decision developed in connection with an ethics hearing or appeal in connection with a hearing or procedural review.
Standards of Practice 3-2
The real estate agent or valuer shall not obstruct any investigative or professional standards proceedings of the Realtors Association (St. Lucia) Ltd. Committee of Management or the Disciplinary Committee by instituting or threatening to institute actions for libel, slander or defamation against any party to a professional standards proceeding or their witnesses based on the filing of an ethics complaint or testimony given before these Committees.
Standard of Practice 3-3
The real estate agent or valuer shall not intentionally impede investigative or disciplinary proceedings by filing multiple ethics complaints based on the same event or transaction.
The real estate agent or valuer shall not engage in activities that constitute the unauthorized practice of law and shall recommend that legal counsel be obtained when the interest of any party to the transaction requires it.
Standard of Practice 4-1
To be just to those who place their interests in his care, the real estate agent or valuer must endeavour always to be informed regarding laws, proposed legislation, governmental orders and other essential information and public policies which affect those interests. However, the real estate agent or valuer should advise his client to seek pertinent professional legal counsel as required.
The real estate agent or valuer shall be careful at all times to present a true picture in his advertising and representations to the public. He should neither advertise without disclosing his company’s name nor permit his sales agents to use individual names or telephone numbers, unless a sales agent’s connection to the real estate agent or valuer is obvious in the advertisement.
Standard of Practice 5-1
The real estate agent or valuer shall not submit or advertise property without authority and he shall not quote a price different from that agreed on with the seller/landlord
Standard of Practice 5-2
The real estate agent or valuer shall advise the vendor when a property is being listed with several agents that the price should be uniform and that in the event of any price change all agents involved must be advised in a timely manner.
Standard of Practice 5-3
The real estate agent or valuer shall not advertise or permit any person employed by or affiliated with him to advertise listed property without disclosing the name of the firm.
Standard of Practice 5-4
When advertising unlisted property for sale/lease in which he has an ownership interest, the real estate agent or valuer shall disclose his status as both owner/landlord and as a real estate agent.
The real estate agent or valuer shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. The real estate agent or valuer shall not be party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin and shall not discriminate against anyone on these grounds in their real estate employment practices.
Standard of Practice 6-1
The real estate agent or valuer shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
Standard of Practice 6-2
As used in Article 5 “real estate employment practices” relates to employees and independent contractors providing real estate-related services and the administrative and clerical staff directly supporting these individuals.
DUTIES TO CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS
When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other client the real estate agent or valuer pledges himself to protect and promote the interests of his client. This obligation to client is primary, but does not relieve the real estate agent or valuer of his obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, the real estate agent or valuer remains obligated to treat all parties honestly.
Standard of Practice 7-1
The real estate agent who is a member of the Realtors Association (St. Lucia) Ltd. is bound by the duties imposed by its Code of Ethics.
Standard of Practice 7-2
It is the duty of the real estate agent or valuer to be well informed of current market conditions in order to be in a position to advise his clients on the fair market price.
Standard of Practice 7-3
In attempting to secure a listing, a real estate agent shall not deliberately mislead the owner as to market value.
Standard of Practice 7-4
The real estate agent may represent the seller/landlord and buyer/tenant in the same transaction and be paid a commission by both only after full disclosure to and with the informed consent of both parties.
Standard of Practice 7-5
The real estate agent shall not submit or advertise property without authority, and in any offering, the price quoted must be that agreed on with the owner as the offering price. The estate agent shall advise the vendor that when listing a property with several agents they must all be informed of the price and that if there is any price change all agents must be informed in a timely manner.
Standard of Practice 7- 6
The real estate agent must ensure in all cases that he has a signed listing agreement between the authorized vendor and himself for his firm. The estate agent may use a sole listing agreement in cases where only one agent is authorized to offer the property for sale, but the owner may sell directly to a purchaser with no obligation to pay commission to the sole agent.
The real estate agent may use an exclusive listing agreement when he is the only agent authorized to sell the property and the vendor must pay the agreed commission to the said agent regardless of whether he sells the property or indeed even gives it away.
In the event that the vendor or landlord contacts an estate agent directly after another agent has sublisted the same property with him, then the estate agent must advise the primary agent of the situation as soon as possible.
Standard of Practice 7-7
The real estate agent must have written authorization from the vendor on a direct listing to show or advertise the property. The vendor must be advised to provide reasonable access for showing the property, with appropriate notice being given by the estate agent. Where the property is tenanted the estate agent must confirm with the vendor that the tenant has been duly notified. The estate agent is charged with identifying the name of the client/prospective purchaser to the primary agent prior to obtaining an appointment for viewing.
Standard of Practice 7- 8
In the event that more than one formal written offer on a specific property is made before the owner has accepted an offer, any other formal written offer presented to the real estate agent, whether by a prospective purchaser or another real estate agent, should be submitted to the owner for his decision.
Standard of Practice 7- 9
The real estate agent shall ascertain from prospective purchasers/tenants whether they have already viewed properties with another agent in order, if possible, to identify properties which may have already been seen by the purchaser and in order to avoid two or more real estate agents showing the same property.
In the event that the purchaser has already been shown a specific property then commissions and/or a referral fee must be shared with the agent who first showed the property to the purchaser. This provision is null and void:
• in the case of a resident purchaser if a period of six months between showings elapses;
• in the case of a non-resident purchaser if a period of twelve months between showings elapses.
Standard of Practice 7-10
The obligation of the real estate agent or valuer to preserve confidential information provided by a client continues after termination of the agent/client relationship and the real estate agent or valuer shall not knowingly during or following the termination of the professional relationship
• reveal confidential information of a client ;
• use confidential information of a client to the client’s disadvantage;
• use confidential information of a client for the real estate or valuer’s advantage or the advantage of a third party unless:
• the client consents to full disclosure;
• the real estate agent or valuer is required by court order;
• it is the intention of a client to commit a crime and the information is necessary to prevent the crime;
(iv) it is necessary to defend a real estate agent or valuer or their employees or associates against an accusation of wrongful conduct.
Standard of Practice 7-11
The real estate agent, consistent with the terms and conditions of his real estate licence and his property management agreement, shall competently manage the property of his client with due regard for the rights, safety and health of tenants and others lawfully on the premises.
Standard of Practice 7-12
The real estate agent who is employed to maintain or manage a client’s property shall exercise due diligence and make reasonable efforts to protect it against reasonably foreseeable contingencies and losses.
The real estate agent or valuer shall ascertain all pertinent facts concerning every property for which he accepts the agency, so that he may fulfill his obligation to avoid error, exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts. However, he shall not be obligated to discover latent defects in the property, to advise on matters outside the scope of his practicing licence, or to disclose facts which are confidential under the scope of agency or non-agency relationships as defined by law.
Standard of Practice 8-1
The real estate agent or valuer shall only be obligated to discover and disclose adverse factors reasonably apparent to someone with expertise in areas required by the real estate licensing authority.
Standard of Practice 8-2
The real estate agent or valuer shall not be a party to the naming of a false consideration in any document, unless it be the naming of an obviously nominal consideration.
The real estate agent or valuer shall not acquire an interest in or buy for himself, any member of his immediate family, his firm or any member thereof, or any entity in which he has substantial ownership interest, property listed with him, or his firm without making the true position known to the listing owner, and in selling the property owned by him. In selling property owned by him, or in which he has an interest, the facts shall be revealed in writing to the purchaser or the purchaser’s representative.
The real estate agent or valuer shall not undertake to provide professional services concerning a property or its value where he has a present or contemplated interest unless such interest is specifically disclosed to all affected parties.
When acting as agent in the management of property, the real estate agent shall not accept any commission, rebate, or profit on expenditures made for an owner, without the owner’s knowledge and consent.
In a transaction, the real estate agent or valuer shall not accept compensation from more than one party without the full knowledge of all parties to the transaction.
The real estate agent or valuer shall keep in a special bank account, separated from his own personal funds, monies coming into his possession in trust for other persons, such as escrows, trust funds, client’s monies and other like items.
The real estate agent or valuer for the protection of all parties with whom he deals, shall ensure that all agreements related to real estate transactions including, but not limited to, listing and representation agreements, purchase contracts and leases are in writing in clear and understandable language expressing the specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party to such agreement at the time that it is executed, are placed in the hands of the parties involved.
DUTIES TO FELLOW REAL ESTATE AGENTS
The real estate agent shall seek no unfair advantage over his fellow estate agents.
Standard of Practice 15-1
The real estate agent must not solicit the services of an employee or sales agent in the organisation of a fellow estate agent without the knowledge of his employer.
Standard of Practice 15-2
It is not in the best interest of the client for more than one sign identifying the property for sale or rent to be displayed at any one time. In cases where there is no exclusive agent and multiple agents have been given authority to erect signage then the following options are available –
• an order of rotation of signs be agreed to by the agents involved
• one shared sign be erected containing as many as four members
• by agreement no sign is erected
• a standard “FOR SALE. CONTACT ANY BEAVA AGENT” is erected
• the vendor determines which sign is erected.
The real estate agent shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about competitors, their businesses, or their business practices.
Standard of Practice 16-1
The real estate agent shall not knowingly or recklessly file false or unfounded ethics complaints.
The real estate agent shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation agreements which other real estate agents have with clients.
Standard of Practice 17-1
The agency of an estate agent who holds an exclusive listing must be respected. An estate agent cooperating with a listing broker must not invite the cooperation of a third broker without the consent of the listing broker.
Standard of Practice 17- 2
The estate agent shall cooperate with other brokers in relation to property listed by him exclusively whenever it is in the interest of the client, sharing commissions on a previously agreed basis. Negotiations concerning property listed exclusively with one broker must be carried on with the listing broker, not with the owner, except with the consent of the listing broker.
Standard of Practice 17- 3
The listing agent and the client must agree on the commission. The listing agent appoints the sub-agent and by agreement sets the amount of the fee to be shared. In general, 50% of the listing agent’s fee must be shared with the sub-agent but this can be changed by agreement. If no contrary agreement exists and the listing agent agrees to work with the sub-agent then it will be assumed that the terms are 50% of the fee.
The real estate agent shall so conduct his business as to avoid controversies with his fellow estate agents. A controversy between agents who are members of the company should first be dealt with by the Disciplinary and Ethics Committee . If the parties do not accept the recommendations of the Committee, they may write to the Committee of Management requesting that the matter be referred to arbitration under clause 15 of By Law 1 of the Company or may inform the Committee that they have decided to litigate rather than arbitrate. The obligation to participate in arbitration contemplated by this Article includes the obligation of the real estate agent to cause his firm to arbitrate and be bound by any award.
When the real estate agent is charged with unethical practice, he shall place all pertinent facts before the proper tribunal of the Company for investigation and judgment.
In the interest of society, of his associates, and of his own business, the real estate agent shall be loyal to the Company and active in its work.