Short sales present some additional ethical issues for Realtors® and brokers. To help create a unified approach to the process — so every professional involved has similar expectations — the leaders of five local Realtor® associations in Northern Virginia (Dulles Area, Fredericksburg Area , Greater Piedmont, Northern Virginia, and Prince William) developed the Regional Short Sales Reference Guide. It covers everything: pricing, MRIS issues, confidentially, and a lot more.

Calling themselves the Ethics Dialog Group, they’ve put the result of their work online at ethicsdialoguegroup.com; you can also access it through our Short Sales Resource Center — click on Best Practices. (The SSRC also has a lot more, including the new standard short-sales forms and video from Lem Marshall’s standing-room-only Short Sales Road Show for Brokers.)

Here’s a sample from the Regional Short Sales Reference Guide’s section on confidentiality:

A Short Sale transaction presents different confidentiality issues from a regular transaction. The most important one is whether the Seller discloses the fact that the transaction could be a Short Sale.
It’s important to note that in accordance with the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Virginia law, a Seller pursuing a Short Sale is considered confidential financial information. The Listing Agent MUST have the Seller’s permission to disclose such information and the permission should be obtained in writing.
A Short Sales situation may present an appealing financial opportunity to the Buyer, but there are some concerns.

There are two kinds of Virginia Realtor: Those who have done a short sale and those who will. Be prepared.