Association News

Atlanta REALTORS® lead the way on important changes to the NAR Code of Ethics

October 22, 2020

Over the past several months, NAR has received an unprecedented number of complaints about REALTORS® posting discriminatory speech and conduct online, especially on social media. Local and state Associations experienced a similar influx, prompting a local Association of REALTORS® to write to NAR President Vince Malta requesting that NAR consider the Code of Ethics' applicability to this type of speech and conduct.

That local association is the Atlanta REALTORS® Association, which sent a letter to Malta on June 19. ARA’s President, Jennifer Pino, called on NAR to identify potential changes to the Code of Ethics and to qualifications for REALTOR® membership to create consequences for REALTORS® that employ discriminatory language and practices.

The hate rhetoric, discriminatory language, practices, and actions by members on social media and other avenues, while at the same time promoting the REALTOR® brand should not be allowed to continue. With all of the effort we have made to promote professionalism in the industry, we cannot continue to allow the REALTOR® brand to be damaged by these hateful few. This must be stopped,” Pino wrote.

To read the full letter, click here.

What the NAR recommendations include: The NAR Professional Standards Committee held a special meeting that included a panel discussion on race, real estate, and association leadership. The Committee ultimately referred the issue of the Code's applicability to discriminatory speech and conduct to the Interpretations and Procedures Advisory Board for their review. The Advisory Board met virtually five times, and engaged in numerous discussions on the Hub, in order to create a package of recommendations. The Professional Standards Committee met in special meeting on October 5, 2020 and approved all the recommendations of the Advisory Board. Six of the eight recommendations approved by the Committee require approval by the NAR Board of Directors, who will hear the recommendations during their meeting on November 13, 2020.

The recommendations can be grouped into three broad categories:

  1. Changes to the Code of Ethics' applicability to a REALTOR®'s activities;
  2. A new Standard of Practice under Article 10 prohibiting discriminatory speech and conduct; and,
  3. Revisions to the definition of "Public Trust"

Why this is being recommended: The Committee felt strongly that a REALTOR®'s speech and conduct reflect on the REALTOR® organization whether said publicly on a business social media profile, or privately on a personal one. According to the Preamble of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® should be guided by the spirit of the Golden Rule of treating others as one would like to be treated. When a REALTOR® pledges to abide by the Code of Ethics, the highest principles and ethics of REALTORS® must follow in all their activities, and cannot be abandoned in a profession dedicated to protecting the best interests of consumers.

Put simply, when one REALTOR® engages in discriminatory speech and conduct, those actions demonstrate to consumers that they represent the actions of REALTORS® collectively. Additionally, this proposed change does not mean that the Code of Ethics will apply in all portions of a REALTOR®'s personal life as many of the Code's provisions are specifically tied to real estate and real estate transactions.

What's next:
We understand that there will be heavy discussion and debate regarding the recommendations throughout the meetings. In order to fully understand the nature of the recommendations and the rationale, we encourage you to:

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