Many people call any real estate agent a REALTOR®. However, that is a misnomer. Though all REALTORS® are real estate agents, not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. I am very proud to say that I am a REALTOR®.
When we become licensed real estate professionals in each of our states, there is no legal requirement that we become REALTORS®. We can help people buy and sell property without ever being a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), or for that matter, our state and local associations. Nothing illegal about that at all.
However, non-REALTORS® do not have to follow our Code of Ethics. So they may operate at a level of performance that meets the basic legal standards of your state, but is not as strict as that mandated by the Code. This Code was written to protect the public, customers, and other REALTORS®.
However, many of us choose to become members of NAR and the other local associations in an attempt to aspire to reach a higher level of performance and ethical behavior than your "run-of-the-mill" real estate agents.
As REALTORS® we are expected and required to conduct ourselves according to the Code of Ethics set up by National Association of REALTORS®. The code not only addresses how we are to treat customers, but also the general public & other agents. So both agents and customers can file charges if they feel that an agent has violated a section of the Code.
Of course, in any organization there can be a bad apple or two. No group is perfect. We all know that. If an agent violates a section of the Code of Ethics he/she can be brought up on charges in front of his/her local REALTOR® board.
If you would like to review our Code of Ethics for 2010, you can download an Adobe PDF copy by clicking on the following link: Download 2010 REALTOR Code of Ethics - Standards of Practice
If you need further guidance or feel that you need to file charges, I suggest that you call your local REALTOR® association. In most cases you can find it on the internet or in the yellow pages. They should be able to advise you as to what steps you should take. Keep in mind that they can only handle matters concerning REALTOR® members. If an agent is not a REALTOR®, the local associations cannot take any action against him/her.
If you need more information about this topic, feel free to call me any time at: 813-783-4444 or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org