No Need to Volunteer Source of Offers

Five veterans of real estate sales cycles with a combined 156 years of experience share their observations and perspective about today's marketplace.

January 1, 2009

Although NAR's Centennial celebration is over, in just four short years we'll be celebrating another landmark—the hundredth anniversary of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. For almost a century, the Code has been providing guidance, ensuring integrity, and promoting consumer protection. The Code is continuously refined to ensure it remains relevant in our ever-changing real estate lives, yet it's striking how many of the fundamental principles codified by our founders back in 1913 remain central to the enduring "dream of vision" the Code represents.

The original Code obligated members to cooperate with each other, respect relationships between brokers and clients, and use arbitration to resolve differences.

One year ago, at the 2007 REALTORS® Conference, two new Standards of Practice (12-12 and 12-13) were adopted to provide guidance on applying Article 12 in the electronic media age. The underlying "true picture in advertising" foundation of Article 12 was unchanged; the enhancements made it clear that the Code's true picture test applies to every communications tool and channel REALTORS® use—from newspaper ads to mobile devices.

At the 2008 REALTORS® Conference in Orlando in November, the Professional Standards Committee adopted four new case interpretations illustrating and explaining Standard of Practice 12-12 as it applies to REALTORS®' URLs and Web site domain names. The new cases became effective upon publication at They can be found in the 2009 Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual at the Law and Policy section.

At the November conference, the Professional Standards Committee also adopted a clarifying amendment—effective Jan. 1, 2009—to Standard of Practice 1-15. The Standard requires listing brokers who have their seller clients' approval to disclose the existence of other offers to cooperating brokers and potential buyers if the cooperating broker or buyers inquire about whether there are other offers.

The Standard also requires brokers to disclose the source of existing offers when asked. The amendment makes it clear that information regarding the source of other offers doesn't need to be volunteered but must be provided when buyers or cooperating brokers specifically request that information.

It's a sincere honor for me to chair the NAR Professional Standards Committee in 2009. I look forward to working with REALTORS® and association executives nationwide in the months ahead as we strive to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for our Code of Ethics.

Writer Steve Rosco, CRS®, is a sales associate with Paul Kott, REALTORS®, in Anaheim, Calif. He has served as an NAR director for eight years. He's also chaired the California Association of REALTORS®' MLS and Professional Standards committees and has served as a member of CAR's Executive Committee. He is a past president of the Anaheim, Great North Orange County, and Pacific West associations of REALTORS® and of the Southern California Multiple Listing Service.