Code Begins Its Second Century

A new protected class and enhanced assurances of competence are among the changes approved last year.

January 21, 2014

The party’s over . . . or is it just beginning? 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of the REALTOR® family. Just as important, 2013 witnessed the centennial of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. But while the banners have been folded and the celebrations wound down, 2014 remains as important as those other years because it’s a new beginning: the start of the Code’s second century.

We spent the year looking back at the hows and whys of the Code of Ethics: how the founders envisioned real estate as a profession and a calling and the Code as their promise of competence and integrity to sellers and buyers who’d been at the mercy of curbstoners and hucksters; how their vision matured and grew into the treasure we have today, the Code as a “golden thread” uniting us and distinguishing us as professionals who subordinate our interests to those of our clients and customers.

Sharing Lessons

But the time has come to look forward to what can be and should be. We have begun a new century of honor, competence, and integrity with REALTORS®, now more than ever, focused on the Code’s calls to service, to sharing the lessons of our experience, to being knowledgeable about the issues affecting real estate, and to doing the things critical to ensuring the best use of the land. Now is the time for us to look ahead, focusing on the Preamble’s vision of a better and stronger America driven forward by the “creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful -environment.”

In addition to honoring and celebrating the Code’s centennial, 2013 was a year of enhancement and accomplishment:

  • Article 10’s promise of equal professional services was expanded to include gender identity as an additional “protected class.”
  • Article 11’s assurance of competence was enhanced through amendments to Standard of Practice 11-1, obligating us, when preparing opinions of real property value, to be knowledgeable about the type of property being valued, to have access to the information needed to formulate an accurate opinion, and to be familiar with the area where the subject property is located.

Many changes were made to the policies and procedures used by local and state associations to enforce the Code and to resolve disputes through mediation and arbitration. Among the changes is a substantial increase in the fines that can be imposed for the most serious Code violations, to $15,000. Information about the changes taking effect this year can be found on

New Training Options

More changes lie ahead. The process for meeting our quadrennial ethics training obligation will be made simpler through new and improved online training materials from NAR, which will begin to become available in 2014. These will include commercial and appraisal-focused tracks. Continuing education credit for license renewal will also be offered where possible.

Moving into the new year, the Professional Standards Committee will continue to review and revise the Code to ensure it remains a relevant, meaningful guide to all of us along our pathway of professionalism.