Welcome to the 2nd installment in my series on the Realtor® Code of Ethics! If you missed the inaugural article, you can find it HERE.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
Many professional actors who are classically trained employ the Stanislavski's System, which poses the foundational question, "What is my motivation?"
The same question would be good for us as real estate professionals today, "What is our motivation? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What is it that fuels our passion to serve our clients best interests? What keeps our integrity, ethics, and priorities in check?"
What has historically driven the underlying core principles of our industry are the Golden Rule and the Realtor® Code of Ethics. These founding aspirations have provided the much needed motivation as to who we are and the manner in which we should conduct ourselves in the course of everyday business practice.
In 1911, the Golden Rule was adopted by the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges to serve as their primary guiding principle.
In 1924, the Ethics Committee, chaired by A.H. Barnhisel, met at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. a few days before the annual convention in June. A 14-member committee was formed and charged with the task of drafting the Preamble. According to Barnhisel, it was patterned after the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution.
I remember when my family and I visited Washington D.C., and we toured the Lincoln Memorial. As I stood there, reading Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address, I was truly awestruck. Such powerful words that guided a nation through very perilous times!
As I read various portions of the COE Preamble, I find that it possesses a similar, timeless style and invokes comparable reactions of sobering reverence.
The Preamble begins with the phrase, "Under all is the land." This profession we have embarked upon is so much bigger than ourselves, and more vital than we could ever imagine! Right out of the gate, the Preamble immediately shifts the focus away from our own personal goals and desires, to a much higher ideal and calling - something upon which depends the very survival and growth of our civilization!
One of the most basic, fundamental building blocks to a healthy, free society is the opportunity for its members to own property and to use those properties to their fullest extent possible. This creates tangible and valuable results, such as adequate housing, functioning cities, and productive industries.
The Preamble warns that such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. Being a licensed real estate professional is not your normal 9 to 5, clock-punching, assembly line, suit-wearing job. I should know, I've held those jobs before. I've been a union employee. I've punched a time card. I've hocked numerous widgets and gadgets across this great Country. I've climbed corporate ladders, endured hostile take-overs, and weathered massive lay-offs. And now, as an 18-year veteran of the real estate industry, I can tell you from experience, it's different. It's not a vocation or career path for the weak of heart, or for those with the selfish, short-sighted illusions of getting rich quick.
I love that the Preamble wakes us up to the reality that this job we've chosen is different. Our role as Realtor® carries with it some grave responsibilities and duties to fulfill, and demands our fullest measure of dedication and diligence.
Here in Kitsap County WA, we are honored to be a part of a large military community, comprised mainly of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bangor Submarine Base. It's not uncommon for you to see people waving US flags from the overpasses as you drive along the freeway, just to show support for our valued troops and sailors. My wife has the admirable habit of walking up to our men and women in uniform, and thanking them for their service.
The Preamble calls upon us to not only be socially responsible, but to be patriotic - to recognize that our duties require devoted service to our Country!
I encourage you to take some time to read through the Preamble. I have included it in its entirety for your reading pleasure. Meditate deeply on its numerous challenges. Then ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I truly 'zealous' to maintain and improve the standards by which I operate and behave?
2. Do I feel a genuine responsibility to help 'raise the bar' regarding the integrity and honor of our industry?
3. Do I constantly strive to learn, becoming more knowledgeable and proficient as a licensed real estate professional?
4. Do I personally embrace the Realtor® Code of Ethics and seek to apply/follow their aspirational ideals in the way I conduct my business?
5. Do I actively seek opportunities to pass on my knowledge and experience with those who are new to the business?
6. Do I have a heartfelt awareness and concern for those things which bring discredit and dishonor to the real estate profession?
7. Do I make every effort to cooperate fully with other real estate professionals, and refrain from saying anything negative or disparaging about other practitioners, whether by name or anonymously?
In our next installment, we will begin to break down and dissect each of the individual Articles of the Realtor® Code of Ethics.
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THE PREAMBLE TO THE REALTOR® CODE OF ETHICS
Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. REALTORS ® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.
Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which REALTORS ® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be diligent in preparing themselves. REALTORS ®, therefore, are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS ® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor.
In recognition and appreciation of their obligations to clients, customers, the public, and each other, REALTORS ® continuously strive to become and remain informed on issues affecting real estate and, as knowledgeable professionals, they willingly share the fruit of their experience and study with others. They identify and take steps, through enforcement of this Code of Ethics and by assisting appropriate regulatory bodies, to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession. REALTORS ® having direct personal knowledge of conduct that may violate the Code of Ethics involving misappropriation of client or customer funds or property, willful discrimination, or fraud resulting in substantial economic harm, bring such matters to the attention of the appropriate Board or Association of REALTORS ®.
Realizing that cooperation with other real estate professionals promotes the best interests of those who utilize their services, REALTORS ® urge exclusive representation of clients; do not attempt to gain any unfair advantage over their competitors; and they refrain from making unsolicited comments about other practitioners. In instances where their opinion is sought, or where REALTORS ® believe that comment is necessary, their opinion is offered in an objective, professional manner, uninfluenced by any personal motivation or potential advantage or gain.
The term REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal.
In the interpretation of this obligation, REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
Accepting this standard as their own, REALTORS ® pledge to observe its spirit in all of their activities whether conducted personally, through associates or others, or via technological means, and to conduct their business in accordance with the tenets set forth below.