Professional internships in Real Estate

In the real estate industry in the United States, it is essential to understand and adhere to professional practices (professional practices) established. This includes complying with laws and regulations related to fair housing, disclosing important property information, and adhering to ethical codes established by professional associations. In this article, we will explore a variety of key concepts related to professional real estate practices.

Fair Housing Laws


Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in housing. Citizens have the right to live where they wish without being subject to discrimination. State fair housing laws mirror national laws with certain differences. Importantly, although fair housing laws do not override local zoning regulations, zoning cannot be discriminatory against protected classes.

Civil Rights Act of 1866

This law prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race. It also prohibits racial discrimination in loans backed by the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) or VA (Veterans Affairs).

Civil Rights Act of 1968

Title VIII of this law, known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, or national origin. Although there are certain exceptions allowed, these laws are designed to ensure equitable access to housing for all citizens.

Forms of Illegal Discrimination

Illegal discrimination can manifest itself in various ways, including:

  • Discriminatory representation
  • Advertising
  • Unequal services
  • Steering
  • Blocking sales (blockbusting)
  • Market access restriction
  • Zone discrimination (redlining)

Title VIII exemptions

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 contains certain exemptions, including:

  • Sale or rental of single-family homes without intermediary or discriminatory advertising, with certain conditions.
  • Rental buildings with 1 to 4 units where the owner is a resident.
  • Facilities leased by private clubs.
  • Facilities owned by religious organizations and leased to their members.

Jones v. Mayer

This case establishes that discrimination in the sale or rental of residential housing based on race is prohibited without exception or exemption.

Equal Opportunity in Housing poster

Real estate brokers must display a poster affirming their compliance with fair housing laws. Failure to display can be interpreted as a discriminatory act.

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988

This law prohibits discrimination in housing based on additional factors, including sex, disability, and the presence of families with children. Although there are exemptions for certain types of housing, these regulations seek to ensure equitable access to housing for a wide variety of people.

Discrimination by the client

Fair housing laws apply to both landlords and real estate agents. If a real estate agent collaborates with a client who discriminates, the agent can be held liable. In such a case, the agent must withdraw from the relationship with the discriminatory client.

Violations and Enforcement

Individuals who believe they have experienced housing discrimination can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or file a lawsuit in court. If violation is proven, violators may be subject to an injunction, damages, and criminal prosecution.

Fair Financing Laws (See also Finance section)

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

  • Lenders must be fair and impartial when rating loans.
  • Discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status or age is not permitted.
  • Lenders must state the reasons for denial of credit.

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act

  • Ban redlining.
  • Lenders must disclose the location of loans.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

  • Prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
  • It applies to access to public facilities, employment, education and transportation.
  • It applies to private employers with 15 or more employees and public employees.
  • Includes provisions related to employment, government services, public accommodations and more.

Title I: Employment

  • Establishes equal opportunities in employment, supervised by the ECOA.

Title II: State and local government

  • Prohibits discrimination in state and local services.

Title III: Public accommodation

  • Prohibits discrimination in public accommodations and commercial facilities.

Title IV: Telecommunications

  • It deals with adaptations in telecommunications and public service messages.

Title V: Various provisions

  • Contains general provisions on how the ADA affects other laws, insurance, lawyers.

Real estate agents must understand the provisions of Titles I and III of the ADA, which are particularly relevant in the buying and selling of homes.

ADA requirements

  • Owners must make modifications to the home so that it is accessible without obstacles.
  • Access must be equivalent to that provided for people without disabilities.
  • Violations may result in citations, license restrictions, fines and injunctions.

Property Disclosures

Residential property condition

Seller's Disclosure Form

  • In many states, sellers (not agents) must complete this form for potential buyers.
  • Describes the condition of the property at the time of sale on state-approved forms.

Owner's role

  • The seller must state if there are problems with the property or its systems.
  • If a problem is unknown, the seller must declare it; If a defect is known, the seller must disclose it.
  • If the seller is not aware of a problem, they can state “no representation,” which eliminates liability for non-disclosure.
  • The seller must sign the form, give it to the buyer, and the buyer must confirm receipt.

Agent Role (Licensee's role)

  • You must disclose any material facts that you know or reasonably should have known.
  • Right of withdrawal: If the seller does not complete and deliver the form, the buyer has the right to cancel the contract and recover the deposit.
  • Property Condition and Material Facts: A material fact is a fact that affects the value of the property or the buyer's decision to enter into a contract. Property stigmas, such as previous crimes, suicides, or illnesses, are not considered material facts, and there is no requirement to disclose non-material facts. Material facts may include the surrounding area in addition to the immediate facilities.

Environmental issues

Licensees and principals are responsible for disclosing and remediating environmental risks, which may include:

  • Lead-based paint: If a property was built before 1978, the possible presence of lead must be disclosed.
  • Mold: Must be disclosed if present in the home.
  • Asbestos: can cause lung cancer; It must be removed by experts to avoid contamination.
  • Air quality: Testing for carbon monoxide, radon, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals should be performed before sale.
  • Carbon monoxide: emitted by gas heaters, fireplaces, stoves, etc.; Detectors should be installed in every home.
  • Septic systems: can release contaminants into the soil; They must be inspected periodically and before any transfer.
  • Radon: detectable radioactive gas that can cause cancer.
  • Urea-formaldehyde: Hazard in foam insulation and pressed wood products, such as particle board.
  • Underground Storage Tanks (UST): Commercial risk if leaks; the presence of any UST must be disclosed.

Clean Air Act

  • Monitors air pollution and air quality nationwide.
  • Establishes pollutant emissions standards.

Clean Water Act

  • It governs and establishes standards to control water pollution.
  • It applies to all waters connected to navigable waterways.

Safe Drinking Water Act

  • Regulates and protects the public supply of drinking water.
  • Establishes protection standards and requires water suppliers to report discovered health risks.
  • Sellers must disclose the property's drinking water source and proximity to septic systems.

Brownfields Law

  • Contaminated land refers to abandoned commercial sites that are likely to contain toxic materials.
  • This law provides funding, liability protections, and tax breaks for the reclamation of these lands.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • It integrates the research, financing, monitoring, standard setting, and enforcement of federal environmental regulations into a single agency.

Licensee disclosure obligations, liabilities

Licensees must have general knowledge and know where to get expert help. They are not expected to have expert knowledge of the law or physical fitness. Its critical role is:

  • Be aware of possible risks.
  • Disclose material facts.
  • Know where to find expert help.


Purpose and scope

Warranties, also known as home service contracts, cover service and repair of systems and appliances. They are typically annual contracts with costs that depend on size, location, property type, and degree of coverage. They can be included in the purchase price of a home.


The guarantees may exclude:

  • Pre-existing conditions, accidental breakages, poor installations, outdoor systems, certain appliances, etc.
  • The owner must use the warranty company to perform the services.



Inspections help detect omissions or repair needs, identify maintenance procedure needs, and uncover system problems, pest infestations, and environmental problems.

Termite inspections

Since termite infestations are not easily detectable by non-experts, annual inspections should be performed.

Environmental inspections, audits

Home inspections should include environmental issues or risks.

Environmental impact statements (EIS)

  • They are done for federally funded development projects and some funded by the private sector.
  • They address air quality, water quality, noise, health, safety, wildlife, traffic, sewage and other project impacts.
  • They culminate in the issuance or denial of a permit.

Licensee disclosure duties

  • In most states, licensees must disclose known and material facts about residential properties.
  • They must also disclose the known results of any residential inspections.
  • Where not necessary, licensees should suggest professional inspections or audits.

Homeowners' Associations

Property disclosure should include information about homeowner associations:

  • Disclosure must be made if a property is subject to a common interest plan.
  • The association's membership obligations, dues, and restrictions must be disclosed.
  • The association must provide required disclosure documents, forms, and timing requirements.
  • The seller is responsible for disclosure, and the agent must ensure that the seller complies.

Codes of Ethics

Sources of Professional Ethics (Sources of practitioner ethics)

Professional ethics in the real estate industry are derived from various sources, including:

  • Federal and state legislation.
  • State licensing regulation.
  • Industry self-regulation through professional associations and bodies.
  • The predominant influence on the professional's ethics comes from National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics, covering all aspects of practice and transactions.

Duties to clients

Most codes of ethics support a commitment to fulfill fiduciary duties, including:

  • Honesty in the representation of values and condition of the property.
  • Respect for the relationships between broker and client.
  • Presentation of all offers.
  • Avoid fund confusion and fund conversion.
  • Maintain transaction files.
  • Maintain confidentiality.
  • Manage client property competently.

Other Professional Practices

Duties to customers

  • Honesty and fair treatment.
  • Disclosure of compensation sources.
  • Honest advertising that is not misleading.


  • Comply with federal, state, and ethical disclosure requirements, including disclosure in advertising.

Professional relationships

  • Avoid denigration of competitors.
  • Do not exploit unfair advantages.
  • Arbitrate differences and disputes instead of litigating.
  • Respect the agency relationships of others.
  • Comply with accepted standards of joint practices (co-brokerage).

In the real estate industry in the United States, adherence to professional and ethical practices is essential to ensure fair and equitable transactions. Real estate professionals, whether agents or salespeople, must comply with fair housing laws, disclose relevant information, and uphold established codes of ethics. This not only protects the rights of buyers and sellers, but also contributes to integrity and trust in the real estate industry.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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