Do you have a question or topic related to REALTOR® ethics that you would like addressed in a future issue of Ethics Exchange? Click here to e-mail Scott Bush at the GMAR.
Caution: LaTanya Ghee is Not Licensed
GMAR members should know that LaTanya Ghee is working as a real estate agent, but she does not have a current, valid real estate license. Please see the following public link to the DSPS website regarding this matter:

When Can a Cooperating Broker
Post a For Sale Sign?
Standard of Practice 12-7
Only REALTORS® who participated in the transaction as the listing broker or cooperating broker (selling broker) may claim to have “sold” the property. Prior to closing, a cooperating broker may post a “sold” sign only with the consent of the listing broker.
Remove Information About Listings from Websites Once Authority to Advertise Ends
REALTOR® A, a residential specialist in a major metropolitan area, spent several weeks each year in a cabin in the north woods he had inherited from a distant relative. Always on the lookout for investment opportunities, he paid careful attention to “for sale” signs, online ads, and local brokerage websites in the area.

Returning from the golf course one afternoon, REALTOR® A spotted a dilapidated “for sale” sign on an otherwise-attractive wooded lot. Getting out of his car, he was able to discern REALTOR® Z’s name. Returning to his cabin, he looked online to locate REALTOR® Z and REALTOR® Z’s company website. Visiting REALTOR® Z’s website, he found detailed information about the lot he’d seen that afternoon.

He e-mailed REALTOR® Z and asked for information about the lot, including its dimensions and asking price. Several days later REALTOR® Z responded, advising simply, “That listing expired.”

The following day REALTOR® A, hoping to learn whether the lot was still available, contacted REALTOR® X, another area real estate broker. “As it turns out, we have an exclusive listing on the property you’re interested in,” said REALTOR® X. In response to REALTOR® A’s questions, REALTOR® X advised that he had had an exclusive listing on the property for almost six months. “That’s funny,” responded REALTOR® A, “REALTOR® Z has a ‘for sale’ sign on the property and information about it on her website. Looking at her website, I got the clear impression that she still had that property listed.”

While the wooded lot proved to be out of REALTOR® A’s price range, REALTOR® Z’s “for sale” sign and website were still on his mind when he returned home. Ultimately, he contacted the local association of REALTORS® and filed an ethics complaint alleging that REALTOR® Z’s “for sale” sign, coupled with her offering information on her website made it appear as if the wooded parcel was still listed with her firm, when that had not been the case for over six months. REALTOR® A noted that this conduct, in his opinion, violated Article 12 since REALTOR® Z was not presenting a “true picture” in her public representations and was, in fact, advertising without authority, a practice prohibited by Article 12, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-4.

At the hearing, REALTOR® Z claimed that failure to remove the “for sale” sign was simply an oversight, and if anyone was to blame, it was her personal assistant who was responsible for removing signs and lockboxes from expired and sold listings. Turning to the stale listing information on her website, REALTOR® Z acknowledged that information about her former listing had continued to appear for more than six months after the listing had expired. “REALTORS® have better things to do than constantly inspect their websites to make sure everything is absolutely, positively up-to-the-minute.” “If we did that, none of us would have time to list or sell,” she concluded.

The hearing panel disagreed with REALTOR® Z’s reasoning. Information on REALTORS®’ websites can be updated on a regular basis, and corrected if mistakes occur. The panel concluded that the continued presence of information about REALTOR® Z’s former listing six months after expiration on her website, coupled with the continued presence of her “for sale” sign on the wooded lot, did not present the true picture required by Article 12, and was inconsistent with the obligation to have authority to advertise contemplated by Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-4. REALTOR® Z was found in violation of Article 12.
We hope you enjoyed Issue #14 of Ethics Exchange 2020 brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® (GMAR). The GMAR created this newsletter, each issue dedicated to a unique issue, because the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, on which our industry is built, is the foundation of what it means to be a REALTOR®.
Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS®, as well as members of the public, that every member of GMAR operates under the highest ethical standards.
Questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue can be directed to
Scott Bush at the GMAR Office (414-778-4929 or scott@gmar.ws).