Of the 445 readers who participated in our recent poll, a close 54% (239 voters) believe it is ethical to solicit another broker’s agents.

Some commenters claim it is unethical to solicit another broker’s agents, citing the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics to back their vote. It’s a commonly held misconception that such a prohibition exists, but the 2012 Code of Ethics explicitly allows brokers to solicit another broker’s agents.

Commenters on the other side maintain soliciting other brokers’ agents encourages healthy competition, which in turn ensures the best agents are rewarded with higher fees and valued for their skills.

But let the sought-after agent beware: there are more than a few scams out there. Avoid any job offer that sounds too good to be true, e.g., you’re not getting 100% of the fees unless you just got your broker license and you’re going into business for yourself.

In another poll related to ethics in real estate practice, of the 235 readers who participated, 6% (15 voters) admitted title companies pay part of their brokerage’s rent.

If a title company is paying for desk rent in your office, make sure you’re adhering to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Any “rental payments” brokers accept from title companies, which do not resemble the fair market value of rent, are prohibited by section 8 of RESPA. For example, if your total office rent is $4,000 and the “desk rent”being paid by the title company is  $3,000 a month, you may have some explaining to do when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau comes knocking. [24 Code of Federal Regulations § 3500.14]

To cast your vote on real estate ethics, see the June 2012 first tuesday articles, Real(i)ty check: Broker ethics in recruitment and Real(i)ty check: title companies paying rent.