Jim Delgado sits down with Lou Vivas to discuss his letter to the Real Estate Commission regarding realtor practices that violate agent obligations. Letter included after the video.
Honorable Josephine Ricks – Chair, 02-18-18
District of Columbia Real Estate Commission
DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Occupational and Professional Licensing
1100 4th St., Southwest Suite 500E
Washington DC 20024
My name is James Delgado. As a longtime home inspector, I write to bring to your attention a number of realtor practices I have encountered that violate agent obligations to “protect and promote the interests of their client” and “avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property or transaction” (Article 1 and Article 2 of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of REALTORS). The realtor practices I have witnessed are listed below:
Failure to disclose building defects to prospective buyers if the agent does not receive a home inspection report, even though the agent has otherwise been made aware of the defects.
Failure to disclose whether a building has a certificate of occupancy in the sale of a condominium unit. In my experience, some agents are under the impression that they can legally sell a condominium, for a buyer’s immediate occupancy, in a building that lacks a certificate of occupancy even though regulations prohibit the occupancy of a building for which a certificate of occupancy is required but has not been obtained.
Failure to disclose that a room listed as a bedroom does not legally meet the requirements of a bedroom because it lacks 1) the proper floor-to-ceiling height, 2) the proper square footage of floor space, 3) a second means of emergency egress, or 4) a combination of all three. Some agents go so far as to list a room as a bedroom even though renovation or building plans show the room as a den or office, neither of which must meet the more stringent requirements a bedroom must meet.
Failure to disclose whether building permits were obtained for home renovations so prospective buyers know whether renovations are compliant with building laws and regulations.
Prospective homebuyers place their trust in their agent’s expertise and their commitment to represent their clients’ best interests throughout the purchasing process. I have witnessed numerous instances when agents have broken this trust because they have failed to live up their obligations under the Code of Ethics and Standards.
The Commission can take commonsense steps to address these violations by including clarifying language in the Code of Ethics and further strengthening the training agents receive. I believe the Code of Ethics should be directly tied to an agent’s condition for licensing. Taking these actions could better protect consumers and safeguard agents from avoidable lawsuits.
If you would like more information about the concerns I have raised, I would be more than happy to discuss them by phone or in person.