Friction brings out the worst in two real estate agents in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania real estate agents are, hopefully, not hearing the quote, "one bad apple spoils the bunch" this summer. A high-end real estate agent and her husband - who sells real estate part-time - face charges of disorderly conduct and harassment after they reportedly vandalized a neighbor's property in Haverford.

The couple put their million-dollar home on the market at the same time as a neighbor who is selling her home on her own. After having her marketing signs knocked down, the woman installed a video camera and allegedly caught the couple tossing dead mice and snakes on her property. Accused of attempting to hamper the sale of their neighbor's home, the full-time agent was fired from her job.

Pennsylvania real estate code of ethics

Pennsylvania laws hold real estate agents to high standards. Violating those standards may subject one to fines, penalties, a reprimand or loss or suspension of a license to sell real estate. In this instance, the real estate agents were also REALTORS®. While not all real estate agents are REALTORS®, the players in this scenario were. As REALTORS®, these real estate professionals are expected to adhere to the high ethical standards found in the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. In addition to the sanctions that can be imposed by the State Real Estate Commission for violating Pennsylvania Laws and Regulations, REALTORS® who are found to have breached their ethical responsibilities found in the Code of Ethics may also face fines, mandatory education, or even expulsion from the multiple list service, one of the mainstays to a successful real estate practice.

When an agent begins working with a customer in Pennsylvania, a consumer notice is executed which outlines the responsibilities and duties of both agent and client. Whether the real estate agent is representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or another party to a real estate transaction, he or she must protect and promote the interests of that customer.

The agent is also obligated to treat other parties to a transaction fairly and honestly. This means disclosing pertinent information regarding the transaction and avoiding misrepresenting or exaggerating facts about a property. The obligations of an agent also extend to members of the public in certain circumstances, such as people who attend open houses.

Broker responsibilities

Every real estate office has a principle broker, an agent who obtained his or her broker's license and oversees the actions of that office's agents. An alleged violation by an agent can reflect poorly on the entire real estate firm. Real estate brokers are responsible for the actions of their agents and, like in the incident above, may require their agents to act ethically in their personal as well as their professional lives.

Not only must real estate brokers monitor the business dealings of their agents, they must also maintain compliance with advertising and marketing regulations, constantly update standard forms and documents used in the industry and stay on top of changes to local, state and federal laws. In this hot real estate market, this can be a lot of work.

A real estate lawyer can help

If your real estate license or the license of your agency is threatened by an ethics or compliance claim, consult an experienced real estate attorney. A lawyer knowledgeable about defending claims against brokers and agents can help.