Every real estate agent in Texas is expected to establish and maintain professional boundaries with the people they contract with in order to protect both their clients and them. The number of possible boundary issues that may confront a real estate agent are numerous. Behavior and communication toward their clients are areas of paramount importance in the real estate industry and can be complicated when a realtor has pre-existing business, personal, or other relationships with their clients. And things can get messy when a realtor is accused of crossing these professional boundaries. A complaint to the Texas Real Estate Commission can put a real estate agent’s license—and therefore their professional reputation and even their livelihood—at risk.
The boundaries to which professionals must adhere are foundational to the functions of their professions. They define and identify behaviors that are permitted within the professional relationship and behaviors that are prohibited. These boundaries exist to solve issues of imbalances that might result from a less-regulated version of a professional relationship—and, indeed, such imbalances are so inherent in professions like real estate that their likelihood of occurring are often why the profession became one requiring licensure in the first place.
The buying and selling of real estate is an activity fraught with stressors. The realtor acts as a threshold guardian in the process and is supposed to behave in a sort of dispassionate manner, with authority. Their client depends on them to be acting and counseling them in ways that further their best interests. Confounded or violated boundaries can undermine this function.
The Commission considers violations to take any of these forms:
- Violations in communication—Where one disparages other realtors; where one does not inform a client of their reasonable availability to accept calls or communications; where one accepts or makes calls to or from clients outside of reasonable hours; being dishonest with a client regarding a decision to discard an unfavorable deal; and so on.
- Violations over technology—Sending spam emails to clients or making misrepresentations in social media, and so forth.
- Violations in power—Directing a client to make certain choices rather than putting it to them for a true decision; using the personal communications of a client for personal gain.
- Violations of an emotional sort—Acting as though one were a friend or even a therapist to a client as a way to close a deal; doing a poor job of managing one’s frustration or anger toward a client.
- Violations of a relationship sort—Representing a friend or relative in an enmeshed manner; engaging with a client in a romantic or sexual relationship.
Not all of these violations come in shades of black-and-white; and some even may occur when a realtor has good intentions. And no real estate agent should go into the complaint process alone. Instead, when a real estate agent faces disciplinary action, they should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced professional license attorney to improve their chances of a positive outcome.
Professional License Defense Attorneys
BERTOLINO LLP handles matters related to licensure, grievance complaints, ethics, and other important professional licensing issues. If you have received a licensing complaint, BERTOLINO LLP can help. To best serve our clients we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.
Contact us today or call (512) 476-5757 and schedule a free case evaluation.