How can I branch into commercial real estate when the Code requires me to tell prospects about my lack of experience?
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Q: I’ve been a REALTOR® for 15 years and have worked primarily in residential. I’ve watched another agent in my office make a lot of money in the commercial field. I would like to branch out into commercial or light industrial, but I am having difficulty obtaining listings when I tell potential sellers of my lack of experience. How am I supposed to break into a different field if I can’t get listings or buyers?

A: You are correct that Article 11 of the Code of Ethics requires you to disclose your lack of expertise in that field. However, Article 11 also provides that you could engage the assistance of someone who is competent in that field. Because you already know another agent in your office who is active in that specialty, perhaps you could work out an arrangement to collaborate with that agent until you gain experience. Remember, though, Article 11 also requires that you disclose that agent’s identity to any potential prospects. Also, the National Association of REALTORS® and its affiliates offer excellent educational opportunities to grow as a commercial broker. That education would assist you in becoming more knowledgeable and help you convey your value proposition to potential clients.

Note: While the Code of Ethics establishes obligations that may be higher than those mandated by law, in any instance where the Code of Ethics and the law conflict, the obligations of the law must take precedence.