In November, NAR will be kicking off the centennial celebration of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics. Throughout 2013, AAR will be celebrating the Code with monthly articles published under the headline, Code Talk, in the Arizona REALTOR® magazine. These articles will showcase the various ways the Code governs professional conduct and interaction with the consumer in every day transactions.

AAR will be introducing REALTORS® from across Arizona to explain how the Code of Ethics shapes the fabric of their business practices, how the Code obligates a REALTOR® in professionalism, and defines the conduct to which REALTORS® pledge themselves.

Can you define ETHICS?

As a REALTOR®, you have pledged yourself to the NAR Code of Ethics. You agree to live by the Code in your professional pursuits. You proudly announce your adherence to the Code of Ethics when offering your service to the public. You recognize that you are governed by the Code of Ethics for your conduct and may be sanctioned if you don’t follow it. But what are ethics? Ethics, are defined as concepts or principles that guide us in determining right or wrong conduct; or applied as behavior, what helps or harms others.

Have you ever questioned, what is an ethical code?

An ethical code, generally, is a set of rules adopted by an organization in an attempt to assist the members of that particular organization to understand the difference between right and wrong in their conduct.

So, the Code of Ethics is just a set of rules?

Not exactly. Acting in accordance with the rules and standing for “right” conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession, exemplifies a higher degree of integrity and performance to which you agree to adhere. The Code of Ethics is vital; it has a purpose and must remain useful to survive. In other words, it has to be more than simply a set of rules for the conduct of real estate transactions. From the beginning, the Code has fostered:

  • Association involvement in education of REALTORS®;
  • the protection of private property ownership;
  • the creation and administration of multiple listing and other cooperative arrangements;
  • the arbitration of disputes, and;
  • protection of the consumer.

Has the Code ever changed?

Yes. To date, the Code has been amended 35 times since its adoption in 1913. The amendments all have reflected an interest in redefining the principal obligation REALTORS® have to uphold the highest and best standards of personal and professional conduct in their practice of real estate.

Then accepting this set of rules, the Code of Ethics, creates an obligation?

You bet. As a REALTOR®, you are obliged to follow the Code of Ethics to which you have pledged yourself to when you joined the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. You have pledged yourself to be honest, truthful, faithful, and efficient to your client.

In conclusion: “A REALTOR® who serves the public serves himself by guaranteeing his future.” 1 In a perfect world, that would include every REALTOR® member strictly adhering to the Code of Ethics. Let us set a goal then for perfection!

1. Quote and resource source: Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual 2012

About the Author

Michelle Lind

K. Michelle Lind, CEO of Arizona REALTORS®, is also an attorney, State Bar of Arizona board certified real estate specialist, and the author of Arizona Real Estate: A Professional’s Guide to Law and Practice. Please note that this article is of a general nature and may not be updated or revised for accuracy as statutory or case law changes following the date of first publication. Further, this article reflects only the opinion of the author, is not intended as definitive legal advice and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.