The following case study was produced by the Professional Standards Committee of the National Association of REALTORS®. Case interpretations are official statements of National Association policy.
(Originally Case #7-24. Revised May, 1988. Transferred to Article 1 November, 1994. Cross-reference Case #2-13.)
REALTOR® A owned a home which he listed through his own brokerage firm. The property listing was filed with the Multiple Listing Service of the Board. REALTOR® B called REALTOR® A and told him of his interest in purchasing the home for himself. REALTOR® A suggested a meeting to discuss the matter. The two agreed upon terms and conditions and the property was sold by REALTOR® A to REALTOR® B.
A few months later, during hard rains, leakage of the roof occurred with resultant water damage to the interior ceilings and side walls. REALTOR® B had a roofing contractor inspect the roof. The roofing contractor advised REALTOR® B that the roof was defective and advised that only a new roof would prevent future water damage.
REALTOR® B then contacted REALTOR® A and requested that he pay for the new roof. REALTOR® A refused, stating that REALTOR® B had had a full opportunity to look at it and inspect it. REALTOR® B had then charged REALTOR® A with violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Code of Ethics by not having disclosed that the roof had defects known to REALTOR® A prior to the time the purchase agreement was executed.
At the subsequent hearing, REALTOR® B outlined his complaint and told the Hearing Panel that at no time during the inspection of the property, or during the negotiations which followed, did REALTOR® A disclose any defect in the roof. REALTOR® B acknowledged that he had walked around the property and had looked at the roof. He had commented to REALTOR® A that the roof looked reasonably good, and REALTOR® A had made no comment. The roofing contractor REALTOR® B had employed after the leak occurred told him that there was a basic defect in the way the shingles were laid in the cap of the roof and in the manner in which the metal flashing on the roof had been installed. It was the roofing contractor’s opinion that the home’s former occupant could not have been unaware of the defective roof or the leakage that would occur during hard rains.
REALTOR® A told the panel that he was participating only to prove that he was not subject to the Code of Ethics while acting as a principal as compared with his acts as an agent on behalf of others. He pointed out that he owned the property and was a principal, and that REALTOR® B had purchased the property for himself as a principal. The panel concluded that the facts showed clearly that REALTOR® A, the seller, did have knowledge that the roof was defective, and had not disclosed it to REALTOR® B, the buyer. Even though a REALTOR® is the owner of a property, when he undertakes to sell that property he accepts the same obligation to properly represent its condition to members of the public, including REALTOR® who are purchasers in their own name, as he would have if he were acting as the agent of a seller.
The panel concluded that REALTOR® A was in violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the Code.