| Daytona Beach REALTORS® and the Code of Ethics. By Lisa Hill, "THE SMART CHOICE!"
Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. In real estate, our Code of Ethics is something that sets us apart from other industries, and even other arms of the real estate industry. There are so many misconceptions of REALTORS®, but the guidelines for every REALTORS®' actions are spelled out in our Code of Ethics. So I wanted to provide this information that will educate the public, and put some misconceptions to rest. You'll also find out how YOU (the consumer) can stand up for your rights!
Last week, I completed my recent CoE requirements. The best part is that with the progression of technology, we now have the option of taking the course online instead of having to sit through a classroom course, at the Daytona Beach Area Association of REALTORS®, during specific hours that have been pre-set by an instructor. (Why do they always want us there early in the morning!?!) The only negatives of taking the course online are that it takes a lot longer to complete than what you're told, and there is a test at the end of the online course that is not required when the course is taken in the classroom. (Maybe the test is actually a positive?)
Now for some public education.
First of all, REALTORS® are required to complete 14 hours of Continuing Education Credits every two years. And in addition to the 14 hours of CEC's, every 4 years we're required to take an additional course on the Code of Ethics. So as I spent my New Year's Eve finishing my Code of Ethics course (No, I don't procrastinate. Why would you ever think such a thing?) before I even got deep into the actual Code, as I was browsing through the Preamble, I underlined one section, and wrote "Blog" beside it. And as I continued with the course, there were several other sections that tied together in my mind.
If you're a real estate buyer, a real estate seller, or maybe you're a new REALTOR® who has not yet had to take your first Code of Ethics course, or maybe you're coming up on your 4th year and you've forgotten some of the Articles of the Code, or maybe you're just not aware of some potential changes that may have occurred since your last Code of Ethics course.
In just the Preamble to the Code you'll find a lot of information. Here are a few quotes...
- "REALTORS® should recognize that the interests of the nation and it's 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."
- ...REALTORS® are expected to be "zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS® a common responsibility for it's 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® are not to "attempt to gain any unfair advantage over their competitors" and "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."
- REALTORS® are to embody "the Golden Rule. "'Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.'"
- "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."
- Regarding the Golden Rule, REALTORS® should "pledge to observe it's 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."
(End of Preamble) Now for a tiny tidbit of the actual Code itself...
Article 1: ..."REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly."
Now for the reason I decided to write this post. As I was reading through the Preamble and the Code, and studying for the test, I noticed a theme running through it all. No, I don't mean just the theme of how The Code applies to the business practices of REALTORS® in general (which is the theme it's supposed to project), I saw a different theme. What I saw was how frequently we apply the Code, in so many mediums, without even knowing it. Let me demonstrate, using the portions I've provided ...
The end of my first example from the Preamble says "the preservation of a healthful environment".
This has been in the Preamble to our Code of Ethics for many years. But only in the last couple of years, has the construction end of the real estate industry starting "going green". So until now, REALTORS'® hands have been tied on how much we could do about preserving a healthful environment, aside from encouraging buyers of commercial real estate and/or parcels of land to complete their due diligence by having a soil test. But with more and more "green" options available, REALTORS® are able to better uphold the Code of Ethics.
As our Code instructs REALTORS® to be "zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS® a common responsibility for it's integrity and honor", I immediately thought of our blogs, and the way we share experiences and information with each other through our posts and comments. Technology has opened up so many new ways to uphold the Code! And this same line of thinking applied even more to the next paragraph of the Preamble that I shared... "as knowledgeable professionals, they willingly share the fruit of their experience and study with others."
The next two segments of the Preamble that I chose to share, were for the education of the public, and to serve as a reminder to REALTORS®.
"REALTORS® are not to "attempt to gain any unfair advantage over their competitors" and in regards to that same line of thinking, we also have... "REALTORS® are to embody the Golden Rule; "Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them."
And lastly, in light of the opinions of a large number of Americans who have had the unfortunate displeasure of working with real estate agents who, not being REALTORS®, were not obligated to do business under the guidelines of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, or even worse, actual REALTORS® who did not uphold the Code in their transactions, I believe Article 1 of the Code is of the utmost importance. So once again... (Article 1) "REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly."
Once again, for absolute clarification. REALTORS® are to protect and promote the interests of their clients.
And with that, the only thing left to add, is directed to real estate buyers and sellers. As a buyer or seller of real estate, if you the consumer, have been misrepresented by a REALTOR®, and/or believe your REALTOR® has violated the Code of Ethics while representing you, YOU can contact that REALTORS'® local REALTOR® Association and file a grievance. Not only REALTORS® can file grievances against other REALTORS®.
Regardless of what your personal experiences have been, one thing to always remember is, under NO circumstances can a REALTOR® or real estate agent, EVER violate the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) laws regarding a protected class. These protected classes are... "race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin." So DO NOT request your REALTOR® or real estate agent to in any way discriminate against a protected class!
Now that you know more about the laws, and your rights, you (the consumer) know what to expect, and can rest assured that you CAN trust your REALTOR®. And if your REALTOR® does not uphold the Code of Ethics, you know your rights as well. To be more knowledgeable, feel free to fully educate yourself by reading the entire Code of Ethics. (Some changes have been made since the Code you'll find at this link. I believe the most recent changes were in 2004/2005.)
For all your real estate needs, make a Smart Choice and contact Lisa Hill with Adams Cameron & Co., REALTORS®.