One of my agents wants to sell her home without listing the property with our firm or any other firm. She’s not advertising the property through the MLS, either. What disclosure must she make about her status as a real estate agent?

She should inform any buyer that she is a licensed real estate sales agent acting on her own behalf—either in writing before entering into a sales contract or by disclosing the information in Paragraph 4 of the sales contract. This disclosure is required by TREC rules.

The Code of Ethics outlines similar requirements in Article 4 and Standard of Practice 4-1. In addition, Standard of Practice 12-6 requires REALTORS® to disclose their status as owners or landlords and as REALTORS® or real estate license holders when advertising unlisted real property for sale. Similar rules apply when license holders intend to acquire property on their own behalf.

These disclosure requirements are intended to ensure the public is informed of an agent's license status when buying real estate from the license holder, and to avoid claims that a real estate license holder was using her undisclosed license status and expertise to take advantage of a member of the public.  

An architectural design firm I recommend to clients gave me free box seat tickets to a local sporting event. Does the Code of Ethics say I have to disclose this to my clients?

It depends. Article 6 of the Code of Ethics says REALTORS® must disclose to clients any financial benefit or fees, other than real estate referral fees received from other brokers, the REALTOR® or the REALTOR®’s firm may receive as a direct result of recommending real estate products or services. If you are receiving these tickets as a direct result of your recommendation, then you would have to disclose this to your clients.

Remember to make sure any actions you take related to recommendations or referrals are in compliance the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).