Law Articles


Duties Of A Real Estate Agent Or Realtor

Written By: Beverly Manago

Created: 11-28-09 9:00 pm

In order to fully comprehend the real estate agent's range of legal duties and tasks-that is, what a broker can and cannot do for the home seller or buyer-you need to first look at the federal and state regulations they need to follow when undergoing any sort of real estate transaction. To be more specific, agents usually need be aware of the following institutions and rules that govern or influence all of their actions: Lawsuits, Employing Broker's Guidelines, National Association of Realtor's Code of Ethics, State Real Estate Laws, and the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Among the five rulings, the Fair Housing Act is probably the most important. On the whole, the act was developed to avoid discrimination of sellers or buyers; with its passing, the Fair Housing Act legislation (which was modified in accordance to the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) is able to protect seven classes of sellers and buyers, which include familial status, handicap, sex, national origin, religion, color, and race.

Expectations for Communities Populated by Protected Classes

A lot of people are shocked and ignorant of the fact that a real estate agent has to deny some requests for the simple fact that they're against the abovementioned set of laws. For example, if a newlywed Jewish couple asks a broker to find a house that's close to a synagogue in a mostly "adults only" neighborhood, he cannot indulge such a request. An agent can't take into consideration any request to be situated on a specific church of any religion or denomination. He can't even so much as promote his listing as around the corner of a parish or mosque.

What's more, an agent is specifically forbidden from answering questions about the ethnicity of a given community. More to the point, it's practically illegal for him to show homes in places comprised mostly of Caucasians, Native Americans, Indians, African-Americans, or Hispanics. If a buyer insists on getting, say, a home in a mostly Italian district, the agent has no choice but to refuse regardless of what his client wants.

Demands for School Districts and Safe Neighborhoods

Because of the sheer number of realty-based lawsuits nowadays, there are presently many other types of consumer requests that legally savvy and law-abiding real estate agents will never address or entertain. For instance, a certain place in California has no guarantee that people who live there would be able to enroll their children in certain school districts.

If a client asks his agent to find him a home in a specific school district, then he (the realtor) should ask for the boundaries of the search; the broker shouldn't be the one supplying the boundaries. The agent should also patiently explain that the client's children might not get admitted into the school he wants. Assuring that a certain school district isn't within the scope and limitations of a realtor's fiduciary duties to a customer and emphasizing that such an action could be considered as a violation of the Fair Housing Act is par for the course.

Beverly Manago is a freelance writer focused on the real estate industry. She is also a freelance writer for My Real Estate Virtual Tour, a web 2.0 marketing tool that lets real estate agents create stunning virtual tours and single property sites easily, with a free version available for listing presentations. She also contributes to the Virtual Home Tours section there.

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