Transparency in Real Estate

By Dan Krell © 2009

Since September, transparency has become the buzzword. Everyone is trying to fit this buzzword into the conversation without regard to context or meaning (such as: government transparency, intervention transparency, etc). However, the new buzz is about Realtor transparency.

Realtor Transparency may be the ideal quality for a Realtor. Realtor transparency is not about disappearing real estate agents because of a sluggish market. Instead, Realtor transparency is about Realtors facilitating the transaction to the point of making it effortless for their clients. Although most Realtors strive to make each transaction as effortless and stress free as possible, all transactions are different due to unique issues and crises which challenge meeting a client’s high expectations.

Certainly, if your expectations are set too high, your Realtor may never meet your needs. So, what can you realistically expect from your Realtor? The National Association of Realtors (NAR) requires Realtors to follow a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice ( Additionally, the Annotated Code of Maryland (COMAR) has incorporated some of the NAR Code of Ethics for Maryland real estate agents to adhere to, which includes the duties of a licensee.

Both the NAR Code of Ethics and COMAR emphasize the fiduciary duties of a Realtor. For example, Article 1 of the NAR Code of Ethics ( states: “When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, Realtors pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve Realtors of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, Realtors remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.”

The NAR summarizes the duties of a Realtor as: “Loyalty (to act at all times in the best interest of the principal and to put those interests above all others, including yourself); Obedience (to obey promptly all lawful instructions of the principal); Disclosure (to disclose all known, relevant facts to the principal); Confidentiality (to safeguard the principal’s secrets, unless keeping the confidence would violate disclosure requirements about the property’s condition); Reasonable care and diligence (to diligently use real estate skills and knowledge when pursing the principal’s affairs); and Accounting (to account for all funds and property entrusted by the principal)” (

So what do you do if your Realtor does not meet your expectations? First, try to communicate what you need from your Realtor. If there is a breakdown of communication, you should next try contacting Realtor’s managing broker. By communicating with the broker, you will (hopefully) find a sympathetic ear to assist you in achieving your goals. The broker may be helpful by acting as a facilitator; in some cases the broker may assign another Realtor to represent you.

If you find that your concerns are falling on deaf ears, you can contact the Maryland Real Estate Commission (MREC). Although it is common knowledge that some consumer complaints to the MREC are due to the client’s unreasonable expectations, the commission takes every consumer complaint seriously.

Regardless of your Realtor’s transparency, your Realtor should be acting within the NAR and COMAR guidelines. Communicating your expectations with your Realtor prior to your entering into any agreement or contract can increase your chances of meeting your housing goals.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 5, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell.