The Code of Ethics: A Living Document

January 1, 2002

NAR’s Professional Standards Committee has two key goals: keeping the Code of Ethics meaningful, objective, and easily understood in a rapidly evolving real estate environment, and ensuring that REALTORS® increasingly view the Code as their personal guide to competency and professionalism.

That’s why the updated text of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is published each January in REALTORS® Magazine. During 2001, four clarifying changes were made to the Code to enhance the protection it affords consumers and to increase its value as Realtors®’ pathway to professionalism.

Standard of Practice 1-14

Before 1995 the Code included an express prohibition barring appraisal fees contingent on the amount of the appraisal. That Standard of Practice was eliminated in 1995 when the Code was “supplemented by and construed . . . consistent with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.” Last year’s elimination of the reference to USPAP in the Code made it necessary to restore this ethical guidance.

Standard of Practice 3-4

A timing amendment was made to the final sentence of this Standard of Practice. The amendment clarifies that REALTORS®, when acting as buyer or tenant representatives, must tell clients if property they’re pursuing is subject to a dual or variable rate commission arrangement. Disclosure must be made before clients make an offer to purchase or lease.

Standard of Practice 11-4

This new Standard of Practice acknowledges that REALTORS® provide different types and levels of professional service to clients and customers, and ensures that Article 11’s focus remains on the competency—not the level—of service that REALTORS® provide.

Standard of Practice 16-18

This Standard of Practice was adopted in 1974, long before anyone dreamed of the Internet’s potential for transmitting and displaying listing information. The advent of aggregated real property ads and displays of listing information pursuant to NAR’s Internet Data Exchange, or IDX, policy raised questions about Standard of Practice 16-18’s scope.

The standard as restated reinforces the concept that listing information shared through the MLS (or through other cooperative efforts) is provided to brokers only to facilitate cooperative efforts to sell listed property and may not be used for unauthorized purposes.

The new wording ensures that the standard remains focused on Article 16’s prohibition of interference with legally recognized exclusive relationships.

Beginning last January, new and continuing NAR members became subject to mandatory ethics training. To help members satisfy that requirement, NAR has instituted free Internet-based training on Successful completion of the online ethics education courses is automatically recorded on your education record in the National REALTORS Database System.

Finally, in anticipation of the Jan. 1, 2002, requirement that all associations offer mediation as an additional dispute resolution tool for REALTORS®, NAR has trained more than 150 REALTORS®, association executives, and staff specialists as mediators. In addition, NAR has posted at comprehensive tools and resources for mediators.

Broad acceptance of mediation will inevitably streamline the dispute resolution process, enable local and state associations to rechannel precious volunteer and financial resources, and enhance the REALTOR® “culture of cooperation.”

Diane Disbrow is chair of the NAR Professional Standards Committee and broker-owner of Bay Shore Realty Inc., Tuckerton, N.J. She’s been active in the REALTOR® organization at the local and state levels for more than a decade. You can reach her at

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