Here is an excellent quote from Benjamin Franklin:
“It takes many good deeds to build a reputation and only one bad one to lose it”.
Every day, as a realtor, we are given the choice to be ethical or underhanded. You could choose to disclose or not disclose a fact that you know about a home you are listing. You could be totally up front and maybe lose a sale as a result, but you would also know that you weren’t hiding anything to “protect” your seller and possibly keep a deal going as a result that could be problematic in the future.
This reminds me of the great football coach, Joe Paterno. How very sad that he went through many many years of being a huge success and at the end of his life, a bad decision made regarding a man he knew (and seemed to be protecting) who was being unlawful could completely tarnish his image and cause many of us to question his ethics.
Hiding details or only telling half-truths can often come back to haunt you. Once again, full disclosure is absolutely your best bet. I call it, “Warts and All”;describing what a property is really like and the buyer can then move forward and trust you and the seller that much more and decide with ALL OF THE FACTS whether or not this is the property that suits his/her needs.
Here’s an example: a property has flooded and the flooded area has been completely remodeled . A buyer comes along and isn’t aware of floodplains, flood insurance, or how much damage was sustained and fixed as a result. I inform my sellers to write in their own words, exactly what happened and how they fixed it. If they have photos, or some invoices in a file, that is invaluable to the potential buyer. Bottom line, if something bad has happened, DISCLOSE IT up front, because people can be a lot more forgiving when you are being honest as opposed to having them discover that you have covered this up, because then they will question what else you may be hiding.
In having to hold onto records for not less than six years (in the state of Oregon), you never know what could resurface and if you have been as transparent as possible, then you know in your heart that you have been as ethical and honest as you could be. Taking notes, writing every conversation down, really helps in case you are ever brought in front of a judge or questioned about a potential transgression. A paper trail can help in a trial or arbitration situation.