Standard of Practice 1-7 of the Code of Ethics is amended, effective Jan. 1, to include the following language:
Upon the written request of a cooperating broker who submits an offer to the listing broker, the listing broker shall provide a written affirmation to the cooperating broker stating that the offer has been submitted to the seller, or a written notification that the seller has waived the obligation to have the offer presented.
"You must request affirmation of receipt of your offer – the listing broker is not obligated to provide affirmation automatically," says Anne Cockayne director of policy services for Florida Realtors. "If you don't request it, it does not have to be provided."
As part of the Code of Ethics, the request and response rules apply only to Realtors – not buyers or sellers.
"Do not expect nor demand that the seller sign any documentation acknowledging receipt or waiver of your offer to prove receipt," says Cockayne. "The listing broker's written response is sufficient to meet this requirement. The obligation is on the Realtor."
A Realtor who fails to submit an offer – unless otherwise instructed by the sellers – could potentially be a violation of Article 1. This hasn't changed under the updated guidelines; it's always been part of the Code of Ethics. Failure to present an offer could be an ethics violation, and the case could end up being heard by a panel of the Realtor's peers in an ethics hearing.
While the new rule requires written affirmation that an offer was submitted to a seller, it does not include a timeframe for the response.
"Ultimately, an ethics hearing panel would determine what is reasonable based on the evidence and testimony presented during an ethics hearing before the member's local association," says Cockayne. "The wording 'upon request' could lead someone to conclude that the action should occur without unnecessary delay; but again, it would be up to a hearing panel to draw its own conclusion."