Trademarks are useful tools. They help us distinguish among products, services and , yes, sometimes people. When we ask for a Pepsi-Cola® brand soft drink we won't get
Coke®. Similarly, when the public asks for a REALTOR® or see the "R" logo, we want them to know that they are getting more than a real estate licensee - they are getting a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR).
Every time you tell the public you are a REALTOR®, you tell them you subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics, you are a member of the largest trade association in the U.S. and you are informed about issues that affect real estate business. That's a lot of mileage from one trademark! So, it's important to always use the REALTOR® marks and logo correctly to identify yourself as a member of the National Association.
The rules for proper use of the REALTOR® marks and logo apply to any and all media. Whether the marks are used on outdoor signs or newspaper display ads, masonry or paper mache, letterhead or flyers, the rules remain the same. Additionally, the same rules apply to use of the marks in all forms of electronic advertising and communication, including the Internet. A few special rules have also been developed to explain how members may use the marks as a part of the domain name for their real estate business.
The National Association has developed guidelines on the proper use of the REALTOR® marks and logo. This guide summarizes five limitations on the use of the marks. Further information on use of the marks may be found at NAR's internet site, www.REALTOR.org, on the 'Law and Policy' page under REALTOR® Trademark/Logo Rules.
On Your Mark: A Trademark Pocket Reference For Members (PDF)
Local appraisers were recently asked what factors are holding back higher appraised values. The predominant response was regulations - USPAP, FNMA, Freddie Mac, UAD and other Federal laws, i.e. FIRREA, Dodd-Frank, etc.
USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) can be considered the quality control standards applicable for real estate property appraisal analysis. USPAP requires that appraisers be familiar with and correctly utilize those methods which would be acceptable to other appraisers familiar with the assignment at hand and acceptable to the intended users of the appraisal. Any violation of USPAP is a violation of state law for which an appraisers' license can be revoked.
NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual
Appendix IX to Part Four, Presenting and Negotiating Multiple Offers
"When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their clients. This obligation to the client's interests is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly." (From Article 1 of the 2012 REALTORS® Code of Ethics) REALTORS® shall submit offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly as possible." (Standard of Practice 1-6)
Perhaps no situation routinely faced by REALTORS® can be more frustrating, fraught with potential for misunderstanding and missed opportunity, and elusive of a formulaic solution than presenting and negotiating multiple purchase or lease offers and/or counter-offers on the same property. Consider the competing dynamics. Listing brokers are charged with helping sellers get the highest price and the most favorable terms for their property. Buyers' brokers help their clients purchase property at the lowest price and on favorable terms. Balanced against the Code's mandate of honesty is the imperative to refrain from making disclosures that may not, in the final analysis, be in a client's interests. (Revised 11/01) Will disclosing the existence of one offer make a second potential purchaser more likely to sign a full price purchase offer- or to pursue a different opportunity? Will telling several potential purchasers that each will be given a final opportunity to make their best offer result in spirited competition for the seller's property - or in a table devoid of offers. What is fair? What is honest? What is to be done? Who decides? And why is there not a simple way to deal with these situations?
As REALTORS® know, there are almost never simple answers to complex situations. And multiple offer presentations and negotiations are nothing if not complex but, although there is not a single, standard approach to dealing with multiple offers, there are fundamental principles to guide REALTORS®. While these guidelines focus on negotiation of purchase offers, the following general principles are equally applicable to negotiations of lease agreements. (Revised 11/01)
• Be aware of your duties to your client- seller or buyer- both as established in the Code of Ethics and in state law and regulations. (Revised 5/01) The Code requires you to protect and promote your client's interests. State law or regulations will likely also spell out duties you owe to your client.
• The Code requires that you be honest with all parties. State law or regulations will likely spell out duties you owe to other parties and to other real estate professionals. Those duties may vary from the general guidance offered here. REALTORS® need to be familiar with applicable laws and regulations.
• Be aware of your duties to other parties - both as established in the Code of Ethics and in state law and regulation.
• Remember that the decision about how offers will be presented, how offers will be negotiated, whether counter offers will be made and ultimately which offer, if any, will be accepted, are made by the seller -not by the broker. (Revised 5/01)
• Remember the decision about how counter-offers will be presented, how counter-offers will be negotiated, and whether a counter-offer will be accepted, are made by the buyer- not by the buyer's broker. (Adopted 5/01)
• When taking listings, explain to sellers that receiving multiple, competing offers is a possibility. Explain the various ways they may be dealt with (e.g., acceptance of the "best" offer; informing all potential purchasers that other offers are on the table and inviting them to make their best offer; countering one offer while putting the others to the side; countering one offer while rejecting the other offers, etc.)
• Explain the pluses and minuses of each approach (patience may result in an even better offer; inviting each offeror to make their "'best" offer may produce a better offer(s) than what is currently on the table - or may dis courage offerors and result in their pursuing other properties.)
• Explain that your advice is just that and that your past experience cannot guarantee what a particular buyer may do. Remember- and remind the seller that the decisions are theirs to make -not yours, and that you are bound by their lawful and ethical instructions.
• When entering into buyer representation agreements, explain to buyers that you or your firm may represent more than one buyer-client, that more than one of your clients or your firm's clients may be interested in purchasing the same property, and how offers and counter-offers will be negotiated if that happens. (Adopted 5/01)
Explain the pluses and minuses of various negotiating strategies (that a "low" initial offer may result in the buyer purchasing the desired property at less than the listed price- or in another, higher offer from another buyer being accepted; that a full price offer may result in the buyer purchasing the desired property while paying more than the seller might have taken for the property, etc.) (Adopted 05/01)
• Explain to the buyer that sellers are not bound by the Code of Ethics. Sellers, in multiple offer situations, are not prohibited from "shopping" offers. Real estate brokers may, unless prohibited by law or regulation, "shop" offers. Therefore, REALTORS® assisting purchasers in formulating purchase offers should advise those purchasers it is possible that the existence, terms, and conditions of any offer they make may be disclosed to other purchasers by sellers or by sellers' representatives except where such disclosure is prohibited by law or regulation.(Adopted5/05) Remember- and remind the buyer that the decisions are theirs to make- not yours, and that you are bound their lawful and ethical instructions. (Adopted 5/01)
• If the possibility of multiple offers- and the various ways they might be dealt with- were not discussed with the seller when the property was listed and it becomes apparent that multiple offers may be (or have been) made, immediately explain the options and alternatives available to the sellers -and get direction from them.
• When representing sellers or buyers, be mindful of Standard of Practice 1-6's charge to ".....submit offers and counter/offers objectively and as quickly as possible." (Revised 5/01)
• With the sellers' approval "......divulge the existence of offers on the property" consistent with Standard of Practice 1-15. (Adopted 11/02)
• While the Code of Ethics does not expressly mandate "fairness" (given its inherent subjectivity), remember that the Preamble has long noted that ".....REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity .....'' If a seller directs you to advise offerors about the existence of other purchase offers, fairness dictates that all offerors or their representatives be so informed.
• Article 3 calls on REALTORS® to ".....cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client's best interest." Implicit in cooperation is forthright sharing of information related to cooperative transactions and potential cooperative transactions. Much of the frustration that occurs in multiple offer situations results from cooperating brokers being unaware of the status of offers they have procured. Listing brokers should make reasonable efforts to keep cooperating brokers informed. Similarly, buyer brokers should make reasonable Efforts to keep listing brokers informed about the status of counter-offers their seller-clients have made. (Revised 5/01)
• Realize that in multiple offer situations only one offer will result in a sale and one (or more) potential purchasers will be disappointed that their offer was not accepted. While little can be done to assuage their disappoint111ent, fair and honest treatment throughout the process; coupled with prompt, ongoing and open communication, will enhance the likelihood they will feel they were treated fairly and honestly. In this regard, ".....REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, 'Whatsoever would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them'" (from the Preamble to the Code of Ethics). (Revised 5/05)