The Code of Ethics Doesn’t Require Being Ignorant


As members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), we Realtors all adhere to a Code of Ethics, which is the most fundamental difference between being a Realtor and a real estate agent.

This “Code” gives everyone guidelines and rules and conduct. It also prevents Realtors from telling lies to try to get business. It’s not a perfect code, but it’s important and it makes a difference.

Section 1-3 of the Code says that Realtors won’t puff the value just to get the listing, or try to take the listing for less than it’s worth to get a quick sale. Do some agents do that anyway- yes. But I’m glad we have a code that many of us care about and abide by.

Article 15 reads:

“REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about competitors, their businesses, or their business practices. (Amended 1/92)”

This means that they will not lie or speak without integrity about any company, including their own. But this does not mean that Realtors can not point out differences in their company and their competitors. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t have our own opinions.

There are some business models I do not agree with. That is my privilege to disagree and it is important that consumers know what the differences are. When I speak to clients I tell them differences in a respectful way and also acknowledge that different people prefer different ways of doing business and there is no ONE right way. That’s important. But it is important to educate people about the differences because they should know if I offer them more/different services than someone else.


And I think it is appropriate and healthy for me to discuss my opinions and have conversations about what I believe and how I think we, as an industry, can best serve the client. It is important in a free society that consumers have choice. And with choice comes differences, and naturally when there are differences, people will have differing opinions. Is that bad? Of course not…

Some agents want to hide behind the Code, or their own moral high-browing, and say that noone should say anything but positives about everyone else. That is ridiculous and those people may have something to hide. Others take it too far the other way and lie about the competition and that’s even worse.

The Code is a guideline. And a guideline that I would hope most of us should not need because we use common sense. And it is also not a shield against open discussion and education. Blogging is all about opinions and open dialogue. I allow commetns on my blog because I encourage people to voice their opinions about my posts, even when they oppose my views. That is one of the things I enjoy about blogging- the open and honest discussion.


3 thoughts on “The Code of Ethics Doesn’t Require Being Ignorant

  1. I serve on hearing panels for ethics hearing violations. There are normally 5 voting members of a panel and it never fails how different each member can interpret the Code in regards to a violation. Going further how different we all view those who we’ve found in violation and the punitive actions we wish to administer.

    Sitting on those panels has made me a better Realtor, there is no doubt. I certainly am more aware of the various aspects of the Code of Ethics and how it pertains in my practice. I don’t really fear a complaint against me (if it ever happens, and it will) because the process of the hearing is a very fair one (even though the word fair has been removed from the Code).

    I’m as anxious about getting clients as any hungry Realtor out there. And I’ve taken calls from other agents clients that want to list with me but are still under an employment agreement. I know the line and respect it. I won’t cross it to gain business but I have meandered to the other side of that line to help the client better understand his/her position in the matter. In doing this I know that I helped the other agents client understand better, and I know for a fact that a few of those discussions I had with clients of other Realtors resulted in THOSE Realtors earning their fee, not me, and I have no problem with that whatsoever.

    Plus, when a client gives me the opportunity to explain to them what being on the Pro-Standards Committee means to me and how it works, I think it says a lot about how I do business in a very straightforward manner. That I am about business and doing things right, that I know when issues are NOT being handled correctly. I’ve conveyed a sense of security to my clients when they understand my service on that state committee.

    Add to that the fact that other members of the committee have referred me clients and feel pretty good about it because of how we all talk about the complaint and the issues on hand at the hearings.

    If you are a Realtor and want to volunteer for anything worthwhile in this industry, I’ve found nothing as rewarding as sitting on hearing panels.

  2. I would rather people tell me what makes them different from their competitors, than just say “pleasantries” about everyone. What good does that do anybody?

  3. Pingback: Real Central VA - Tracking the Charlottesville and Central VA real estate market and more » Are ethics stronger today?

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