Strengthening the Code with Professional Courtesies and Commonsense Practices

February 1, 1999

Strengthening and enhancing Code of Ethics enforcement procedures and making REALTORS® more comfortable and familiar with the fundamental principles of business ethics and conduct were guiding forces behind REALTOR® Code of Ethics recommendations approved by the NAR Board of Directors last fall.

Fifteen of 16 recommended changes will now be taken up by NAR policy committees for development and implementation. You'll read more about them as they’re refined over the next two years.

One of the recommendations has already gone into effect. Titled "Pathways to Professionalism," it’s a comprehensive list--developed with input from REALTORS® across the country--of commonsense, day-to-day professional courtesies we should provide to buyers, sellers, and one another.

The suggestions are voluntary. They aren’t duties, they don’t supplement the Code, and they can’t form the basis for a professional standards complaint. Local associations may adapt them as needed, depending on local custom and practice.

Here's a sample.

Respect for the public

Always follow the Golden Rule. Schedule appointments in advance and call if you’re delayed or must cancel. Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion and don’t use jargon; if a prospect decides not to view a home, promptly tell the listing broker or owner.

When showing an occupied home, ring the doorbell or knock before entering. Enter listed property first to ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately. Never criticize property in the presence of the owner. Be aware of and respect cultural differences.

Present a professional appearance at all times. Be aware of and meet all deadlines; promise only what you can deliver.

Respect for property

Be responsible for visitors to the listed property; never allow buyers to enter a property alone. When the seller is absent, be sure to turn off lights, shut windows, and lock doors after a showing. Tell buyers not to smoke in the listed property. If the weather is bad, take off your shoes on entering the property.

Respect for peers

Call the listing broker to report the results of any showing. Notify the listing broker immediately if anything seems wrong with the property and if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing. Share important information about your listings, including the presence of pets or security systems.

Carolyn D’Agosta is the 2016 Chair of the NAR Professional Standards Committee. A San Diego-based real estate broker, D'Agosta also provides instruction, expert witness testimony, and litigation support. Learn more or contact D'Agosta at

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