Ethics are critical to guiding fairness in any industry. Real estate is no different. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership and that realtors have a social responsibility and patriotic duty to protect these interests.

NAR requires its members to complete ethics training every three years due to evolving codes. Here are some of the changes in the NAR 2021 Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice and reminders of the obligations realtors have to the public, clients and peers.

Code of Ethics Basics
A realtor’s primary obligation is to his or her client, whether that’s a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant. A realtor must work to protect and promote a client’s interests while working to treat all parties honestly. This includes aspects such as submitting offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly as possible, preserving confidential client information, respectfully managing client property, refraining from deliberately misleading an owner as to market value, avoiding misrepresenting or concealing pertinent facts relating to the property and not accepting compensation from more than one party among other standards of practice listed in the code.

However, a realtor also has certain duties to the public. They shall not deny equal professional services or employment to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. A realtor should provide services that conform to the standards of practice and are not outside of their field of competence. They should be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representations.

Finally, realtors have duties to other realtors such as refraining from making false or misleading statements about other industry professionals. Realtors should not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or brokerage relationship agreements that other realtors have with clients. In the case of a dispute, realtors should willingly participate in mediation and submit the dispute to arbitration in accordance with the policies of their Board rather than litigate the matter.

By abiding with this Code of Ethics, realtors preserve competency, fairness and integrity while adhering to ideal moral conduct in business relations.

2021 Updates

In late 2020, NAR made some changes to its Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice. In case you missed them, these include:

  • Addition of Standard of Practice 10-5 to Article 10 under Duties to the Public: It may seem like an obvious one but, unfortunately, NAR says that during the social unrest throughout the nation in late spring and summer of 2020 it received an unprecedented number of complaints about realtors posting discriminatory speech and conduct online, especially on social media. Therefore, including this language that prohibits this conduct is an important reminder: Realtors must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
  • Amendment of Professional Standard 29: Previously, Policy Statement 29 limited the applicability of the Code to real estate-related activities and transactions involving realtors. As such, it did not apply to members engaging in discriminatory and abhorrent conduct and speech unless it could be tied to a real estate-related activity or transaction.

The revised policy expands applicability to all of a realtor’s activities.

Why Ethics are Important to Black Tie Title
As a title agency, Black Tie Title also values ethical behavior toward the real estate agents, buyers and sellers with whom we work. Many of our staff were previously realtors, so we identify with these codes and do not tolerate harassment or discrimination to any party in any form. Our expert staff is trained and licensed. Most importantly, we care, understanding the importance of being on the same page as the agents who are using our services so that together we can provide the best possible experience for our clients. This way, real estate agents can focus on what they do best – selling houses!

If you’re a real estate agent, we look forward to being your trusted leader in the title and escrow space. Have questions? Contact us!

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