Although no candles to blow out or cake to cut, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is wishing their Code of Ethics a Happy 100th Birthday.
Established in 1913, following the professions of medicine, law, and engineering, the code was established subsequent to the Great Chicago Fire (started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow as lore tells us) when 120 honest and forthright real estate practitioners were looking to stop the unscrupulous behavior of their colleagues who took advantage of desperate homeowners of that fire. This code is what distinguishes a Realtor form all other sales positions as it sets professional standards for its members. These standards must be adhered to otherwise the ramifications of not may result in a Letter of Reprimand all the way up to expulsion, based on the act.
The Code of Ethics consists of a Preamble which sets the tone of the Code’s 17 articles and Standard of Practices for those articles. The articles cover Duties to Clients and Customers (1-9); Duties to the Public (10-14); and Duties to Realtors (15-17).
The most prevalent is Article 1 which comes from the Laws of Agency, common to attorneys which pertains to being honest and treating everyone honestly. The fiduciary responsibility towards the client consists of four characteristics: obedience, responding to a clients request; disclosure, giving the client all the facts; confidentiality, keeping confidential information, confidential; and loyalty.
The other Articles cover representation, fair housing, non-misrepresentation and exaggeration, and a slew of other ethical standards. There is also a Article (14) on procedures to set in a complaint and investigation thereof, which can be brought about by the public as well as the Realtor community against a Realtor. The reasoning for bringing this up is that if as a consumer you feel you have been wronged by a Realtor, you have the right to place a complaint through the local Board of Realtors office. Just be aware there is a process and there is a statute of limitations of 180 days from the infringement and/or closing of a home to place the complaint.
Without a doubt, Realtors have a bad rap, but as in every profession, some justified but mostly not. However, being a Realtor, we are set at a higher standard than many other professions and certainly more than any other sales position. As a Certified Instructor of the Code of Ethics for the state, all Realtors are required by the NAR to attend a Code of Ethics review every four years. I am proud to say that the vast majority of Realtors adhere to these standards to the highest level.
So Happy Birthday Code!