As you may already know, when it comes to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Realtor Associations are:
…required to adopt the Manual or, if not adopted verbatim, establish local professional standards procedures that ensure due process, complies with applicable laws of the state, and complies substantively with the policies and procedures set forth in the NAR Manual.
In other words, it’s important that you know the NAR Code of Ethics and stay apprised of the updated versions. The Manual is created for training and education purposes, and covers a Realtor’s duties to the public, duties to clients and customers, and duties to other Realtors. The Manual is a living document, meaning it changes with the trends of the current real estate market, and covers not only residential but all forms of real estate. Every Realtor must complete a course on the Code of Ethics every four years.
The new mandated core standards of the National Association of Realtors require every local association to make access available to arbitration filing processes and professional standards. Furthermore, local chapters may now use citations and are to adopt expedited enforcement. Although these new mandates will most likely do away with long delays and the threat of intimidation or retaliation for filing, easier access to information and quick turnaround will probably lead to more filings in general.
Some local chapters are already taking these new mandates to heart. In fact, the California Association of Realtors announced that starting August 1st 2014, they will be publishing the “names and other information of members who are found in violation of the Code of Ethics.” If a member is found in violation of the Code and is to be disciplined with “anything other than a letter of warning or stand-alone education,” CAR plans to publish the name and photo of the member, his or her license number and/or office address if the member’s name is similar to another’s, a list of the articles that were violated, a brief synopsis of the violation, the discipline imposed, the effective date and duration of punishment, and the rationale for the punishment.
Although this information can only be found on the members-only section of CAR.org, local associations are free to republish the information in their local members-only publications. As CAR notes in the press release, most violations are related to advertising, but many members report having problems with other agents. They leave California Realtors with a warning: “Make sure you know the rules, so your name is not on the list!”
Some of the articles you should be aware of, in case you need a refresher course, include:
- Protecting and promoting your client’s interest while being honest with all parties
- Avoiding exaggeration, misrepresentation, and concealment of pertinent facts
- Cooperation with other real estate professionals
- Making your position in the buying or selling transaction known
- Disclosing present or contemplated interest in any property
- Avoiding side deals without client’s informed consent
- Accepting compensation from only one party
- Keeping the funds of clients and customers in escrow
- Assuring that transactional details are in writing
- Providing equal service to all clients and customers
- Being knowledgeable and disclosing lack of experience
- Presenting true, accurate pictures in advertisements
- Not engaging in unauthorized practice of law
- Being a willing participant in code enforcement procedures
- Ensuring your comments about other real estate professionals are truthful
- Respecting the exclusive representation agreements that other Realtors have with clients
- Arbitrating and mediating contractual and non-contractual disputes with other Realtors and your clients
If you’re interested in delving into the entire 384 pages of this year’s Manual, you can check it out here.
The lesson learned? Stay up to date on NAR’s specifications, as a violation could land your mug in a publication and lead to other Realtors not wanting to do business with you.