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Real estate agents and professional misconduct, Part 1

Licensed professionals must adhere to strict standards of care and service to their clients. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for those in competitive professions to become overzealous in their approach to customer care. Aggressive sales tactics are generally lauded in most professions, but some tactics might ultimately venture into areas of unethical behaviour and fraudulence. 

Real estate agents must juggle many responsibilities no matter the role they are playing in the transaction. They could be working with the buyer, seller, lender, city inspector or countless other organizations. In addition, they will likely be in close contact with their opposing number on the other side of the real estate transaction.

The realtor needs to answer questions honestly and avoid fraud or misconduct even when it might jeopardize a high-dollar sale. There are numerous psychological tricks or sales tactics that might ultimately run afoul of the law. When working with the buyer:

  • Withholding critical information: It is not uncommon for buyers to feel uneasy about a large financial transaction. However, it is the real estate agent’s responsibility not to set aside their fears, but to honestly answer their questions. When a client wonders about the proximity of train tracks or a new construction, the real estate agent must take the time to find the answer rather than replying to simply “keep the windows shut during busy hours.”
  • Glossing over large costs: A real estate agent might minimize the true cost of either repairs or improvements to a new property. From adding a new bathroom to purchasing a home that’s several thousand dollars over the specified budget, the realtor must address these concerns honestly rather than dismissively.
  • Upselling clients: Buyers might be flexible on their budget and their list of must-have features. It is crucial, however, for the buyer to make these decisions without them being aggressively pushed by the realtor.
  • High-pressure sales: While it is true that housing markets fluctuate and numerous properties are “priced to sell,” a real estate agent must not pressure his or her client into moving quicker than they are comfortable with. Pressure sales tactics can lead to a rush decision and allegations of misconduct.

It is not uncommon for allegations of misconduct to arise out of misunderstandings. A real estate transaction entails a complex process with countless moving parts. Unfortunately, professional misconduct can result in fines, incarceration, suspension or loss of license. It is crucial that you act swiftly to protect your practice and your career by speaking with a skilled defence lawyer as soon as possible.

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