Code of Ethics
Recently licensed as a real estate instructor, I’ll be teaching my first class next week, Code of Ethics, to my peers within the Windermere Real Estate organization. In studying course work and preparing for the class, I am struck by the deep history behind the National Association of Realtors®’ Code of Ethics. First came codes of the “learned professions,” medicine, engineering and law. Aside from the aforementioned and the now defunct Printers Association, ours was the first business group to adopt a Code of Ethics.
Founded in 1908, the National Association formed and adopted the Code in 1913 at its sixth annual convention. The code is unique in its vision; that “the vision of those who dreamed that the business of real estate could become a profession, the vision of those who believed that the search for the highest and best use of the land required the highest and best measures of professional responsibility, and the vision of those who recognized private ownership of the land as indispensible to political democracy and a free and prosperous citizenry [excerpted from the Preamble, Code of Ethics and Standards and Practice of the National Association of Realtors®].
It is a code born of suspect land dealings, counterfeit contracting, double dipping and outright property right theft, an era of Robber Barons and corrupt speculators. Ninety five years later, the Code remains a living document, reflective of ever changing tides. It’s reviewed, revised and updated annually at the national convention. It contains within it the framework for correct behavior amongst professionals as they serve their clients, the public and each other. The articles and their standards of practice are the standard by which arbitration and disciplinary action are dispensed. It remains the model for much real estate and contract-related law in municipalities across the country. For those who take it seriously and for its worth, the Code offer a clear road map, a practicle guide to a prosperous and hopefully arbitration/litigation free career in real estate.
The National Association of Realtors® requires members to take a class every four years so as to remain in pace with industry trends. I’m looking forward to teaching, hearing the experiences of my peers and learning in the process all the while reflecting the Code’s Preamble’s powerful declaration as embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them”.