Real Estate Ethics

“Real Estate Brokers, Representation, and the Role of Interdisciplinary Topics from Accounting, Cultural, Historical Studies in Business Ethics”
Chapter One: Introduction
While appalling scandals have taken a toll on public perception in honesty and ethics ratings for many professions, ratings for real estate professionals have been largely unaffected, this might reflect home price uncertainty more than improved representation or higher ethical standards (e.g., Jones, 2002; Saad, 2008). Despite an overhaul of real estate licensing, education, and disclosure requirements, effective July 1, 2002 in Oregon, for example, consumers continued to liberally negotiate with limited representation even after disclosure. Limited agency allowed a single agent, designated as a “broker” under the new law, to represent sellers and multiple buyers in single transactions, presumably offering consumers better alternatives for representation in the residential real estate market by replacing seller sub-agency (Oregon Legislative Assembly Administration Committee Services, 2001, p. 3).
Perhaps consumers rely upon real estate agents less for representation and more for information. However, as internet technology has increasingly provided data directly to consumers, and intensified controversy over public, private, and proprietary information in the process, more buyers and sellers might choose, in the future, to rely on fewer brokers for both information and representation (Evans, 2000). This senior paper discusses interdisciplinary topics from accounting, cultural and historical studies in college-level business ethics education and suggests improved ethics education might play a role in raising ethical standards of real estate agents. In order to effectively respond to consumer, economic, and technological changes, real estate professionals might need more rigorous licensing and continuing education courses, beyond current legal requirements, as well as a possible shift in...