REALTOR® Code of Ethics turns 100

I completed another two-day CRS course last week, toward my quest to receive a CRS designation as a Council of Residential Specialists. It was great stuff, I learned a lot. I believe strongly in continuing education, especially in this ever changing industry of real estate we are in today. It is critical to my success as a REALTOR®. I also realize with knowledge comes responsibility and the fiduciary responsible as a REALTOR® I have to my clients.

This is not a new concept. In fact, the National Associates of REALTORS® (NAR) saw a need for a Code of Ethics 100 years ago this year. NAR was just 5-years-old then and creating a code of ethics was one of the driving forces of why the group was formed. In 1913, the real estate market was booming. Back then anybody could wake up and call themselves a real estate dealer and could start going about telling others, quoting values on properties, even though they might not be accurate or true. Some would set up shop on sidewalks with the hope of swindling anyone that passed by. There were no state or national standards back then.

The original Code of Ethics in 1913 totaled 23 short paragraphs broken out into two sections – “The Duty of Real Estate Men Toward Their Clients” and “The Duty of the Real Estate Men to Other Real Estate Men.” Note to women, WCR was to come later (Women Council of REALTORS®). By 1923 every board was required to adopt the code and create an enforcement system for its members. In 1924 the preamble, based on the Golden Rule which states that one should treat others as one wants to be treated, was added and each paragraph was called an article, as it is today.

Like the US Constitution, the Code of Ethics was created to be a living document, to change with issues of the day. To date there has been over 40 amendments since it was first adopted in 1913 – multiple times since 2008 to reflect the role of the internet and technology.

Today there are three major sections. In addition to duties to clients and customers and duties to fellow REALTORS®, a third one was added, duties to the public. Articles 1-9 focus on duties to clients/customers, Articles 10-14 handle duties to the public, while Articles 15-17 cover duties to other REALTORS®.

We as REALTORS® have accepted these ideals and principles as our own and have accepted the responsibility that comes along with this membership of being able to call ourselves REALTORS®. If we find people who are violating the code our job is to report them. We as REALTORS® have an obligation to do something. Still after 100 years some things haven’t changed, there are still some that are bad. The key is to report bad behavior. REALTORS®, it is up to us to stand up and report to our associations when we see another agent violating the code. You, the public, if you question a REALTORS® ethics regarding a real estate matter, call them on it or at least report it to our local association, SRCAR, at (951) 894-2571 or email [email protected]

If you have questions regarding available inventory to purchase or the current bank servicer’s short sale incentives to sellers, contact Mike Mason, broker/owner of Mason Real Estate DRE: 01483044, Board of Director of your Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors® (SRCAR), Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource certified by National Association of Realtors® (NAR) at [email protected] or call (951) 296-8887.

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