With all the options for promoting listings on the internet, sometimes it’s not obvious that a property is listed, or who it is listed with.  That’s no excuse for contacting a seller directly.

REALTORS® have a responsibility to make a reasonable attempt to determine whether a property is subject to an exclusive listing agreement prior to reaching out to an owner.  A quick check in MLS should give you an answer.  If you or your buyer see a property listed on a website that is not a broker website, you might assume that it is a FSBO.  That could be a mistake.  Take a few minutes to look up the address in MLS to see if it is, in fact, exclusively listed by a real estate broker.  If it is, all contact, inquiries, paperwork, etc. must go through the listing broker.  Your buyer should also be cautioned not to make an inquiry via a website.  If it is listed, that could be the beginning of a series of events that could affect determination of procuring cause and entitlement to cooperative compensation.  If it’s not listed and the seller has already been in contact with a buyer, they may not want to pay a commission to a buyer representative who enters the transaction later.

Not “knowing” that a property is exclusively listed isn’t an excuse for direct contact with a seller.  If it could be easily determined whether an exclusive listing agreement is in affect and you make that contact, you might find yourself on the “respondent” side of an ethics complaint.

Article 16

REALTORS® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with clients. (Amended 1/04)

All dealings concerning property exclusively listed, or with buyer/tenants who are subject to an exclusive agreement shall be carried on with the client’s representative or broker, and not with the client, except with the consent of the client’s representative or broker or except where such dealings are initiated by the client.

Before providing substantive services (such as writing a purchase offer or presenting a CMA) to prospects, REALTORS® shall ask prospects whether they are a party to any exclusive representation agreement. REALTORS® shall not knowingly provide substantive services concerning a prospective transaction to prospects who are parties to exclusive representation agreements, except with the consent of the prospects’ exclusive representatives or at the direction of prospects. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/04)

Written by: Cindy Henninger – Director of Professional Services