The 6 Most Challenging Code of Ethics Articles

REALTOR® Magazine ethics columnist Bruce Aydt, general counsel at Prudential Alliance, REALTORS®, in St. Louis, shares his thoughts on doing the right thing when faced with the six most challenging articles in the NAR Code of Ethics.

March 1, 2012

Article 1: Fiduciary duty
To “protect and promote” the client’s interest is to focus on what’s best for the client you represent while being honest with all parties. Flipping attempts in short sales is one area in which listing agents must be watchful of sellers’ best interests.

Article 2: Disclosure of pertinent or material facts
Property condition disclosures are vital. Make sure property defects and adverse factors are disclosed to the buyer or tenant.

Article 3: Cooperation with other brokers
“Cooperation” is not about being polite and is not a synonym for “compensation.” Standard of Practice 3-10 defines cooperation as sharing information about listings and making listings available for showings.

Article 9: Written agreements
The basic idea of Article 9 is to get everything in writing. Sometimes buyers and sellers have different notions of what should be included or excluded from the sale or lease. Always make sure these inclusions and exclusions are written into the transaction documents so that the parties are not relying on flyers, brochures, disclosure statements, or MLS listing information.

Article 12: True picture
Always present a true picture in your advertising, marketing, and other representations. This mandate applies not just to traditional marketing but also to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, texts, and other social media. Check out Standard of Practice 12-5 for guidance on the right way to present your identity as a real estate professional in social media venues.

Article 16: Noninterference
Noninterference covers those difficult “solicitation” and “dealings” issues related to another REALTOR®’s exclusively represented client. While there are exceptions, the Code’s key principle is not to deal directly with or solicit someone involved in an exclusive agreement with another REALTOR®.

Bruce Aydt

Attorney Bruce Aydt, ABR, CRB, SRS, is a national real estate educator, a Missouri real estate broker, and past chair of the National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee.