The Code Meets Today’s Realities

The code of ethics continues to evolve.

January 1, 2011

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics is a dynamic, living document that guides our professional activities and our relationships with other practitioners. Here’s a look at some of the changes for 2011.

No discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. For many years, the Code has assured the public that REALTORS® would not deny any person equal professional services based on their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. In response to the recommendations of several state associations, Article 10 and Standard of Practice 10-3 were amended to add sexual orientation as a protected category.

A greater duty to share information. Article 3 obligates REALTORS® to cooperate with other brokers to promote our clients’ interests. New Standard of Practice 3-9 explains that the duty to cooperate includes a duty to share information about listed property and to make property available to other brokers for showing to prospective purchasers. Standard of Practice 3-7 was clarified, substituting "relationship with the client" for "representational status," which acknowledges that a REALTOR® performing an appraisal may be seeking information about property yet not actually "representing" a buyer or seller.

Linking to key disclosures on the Web. The Professional Standards Committee continues to consider how the Code applies to the Internet and mobile technology. Standard of Practice 12-5 requires REALTORS® to disclose the name of their firm in all advertising of real estate services and listed property. But in some cases, only a very limited amount of information can be displayed via electronic communication; consider posts on Twitter. Standard of Practice 12-5 was amended to take these limitations into account, and now provides that these displays are exempt from the requirement to disclose the firm’s name, but only if they are linked to all required disclosures.

Be sure to hang on to the Code of Ethics insert that’s included in this issue of REALTOR® Magazine; it’s our adherence to this document that sets us apart from non-REALTOR® licensees.

Dominic Cardone, ABR, CRS, is the 2011 chair of the NAR Professional Standards Committee.