NAR Code of Excellence to Raise Standards

November 11, 2014

The Board of Directors of the National Association of REALTORS® has taken the first step in "raising the bar" on the profession, agreeing to move forward on the creation of a REALTOR® Code of Excellence for the board's future approval. It's a move that has long been contemplated by both NAR leaders and rank-and-file members who say a higher standard is essential for maintaining REALTORS®' central role in the real estate transaction.

Over more than a dozen years, the association has taken measures to encourage professionalism, including passing a Code of Ethics training requirement, rolling out new designations and certifications, and establishing a master's in real estate program through REALTOR® University.

But the board's vote to create a Code of Excellence sets the association on a course that promises to change what it means to be a REALTOR®. The vote came at the board's meeting Monday, which capped off the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

As described in a proposal from NAR's 2014 leadership team, the Code of Excellence will focus the attention of REALTORS® on key issues, such as data protection, property rights, community involvement, and proficiency with technology.

NAR President Steve Brown said moving forward with the project is essential for the organization. He noted that NAR has considered the idea for 25 years and said he has heard from many association stakeholders about the importance of strengthening the real estate industry's value to consumers.

"Prior to being president and during my presidency, [at] every state association meeting I went to, ultimately someone asked, 'How do we raise that professional bar?'" Brown said as he opened the proposal up for discussion by the board.

Under the aspirational Code of Excellence, REALTORS® would develop and maintain competencies that directly relate to the relationships they establish and build in the course of carrying out their jobs. These competencies include taking an active role in promoting property rights; building safe, prosperous communities; and staying current with technological and business trends that relate to the real estate profession.

The Code of Excellence would also help REALTORS® strive to become proficient in handling data so they can effectively serve as the go-to source for all information related to the real estate transactions they handle.

Once the code is implemented, REALTORS® would be required to take training every two years to ensure they remain familiar with the areas it addresses.

A related proposal is designed to help REALTORS® stay ahead of the curve, as consumers increasingly rely on ratings in selecting professionals with whom they do business. Brown said developments beyond the organization's control mean NAR must move quickly to establish and publish standards that third-party websites and other entities could use to evaluate real estate professionals.

"The ship is being built on evaluations right now," Brown said. "But the ship hasn't sailed" yet, and there is still time for NAR to play a role in developing standards that would help ensure REALTORS® are evaluated fairly.

—By REALTOR® Magazine