“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do, and what is right to do.” – Potter Stewart
Stewart, who served as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981, spent many years understanding the meaning of ethics. Although we’re not all members of the Supreme Court, as REALTORS® we are required to not only take courses in the matter but to behave on behalf of them. As the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice is lengthy, I will summarize the 17 articles below.
Duties to Clients and Customers
Articles 1-9 stress the responsibilities we as real estate agents have to you, our customers and clients. Above all, your interest always comes first. We pledge to protect and promote these interests while treating all parties fairly and honestly. Your information shall be kept confidential, contracts shall be drafted using with the terms of your choice (buyers), and presented objectively and timely (sellers). Under no circumstance should an agent’s fiduciary duty (the legal term describing the relationship between two parties that obligates one to act solely in the interest of the other) to you waver.
Duties to the Public
Articles 10-14 discuss first and foremost equal professional services and nondiscrimination to all persons no matter their race, religion, sex, status, etc. In essence, demographic information of a customer/client/tenant is not voluntarily provided. Furthermore, services provided shall conform to the standards of practice and competence for which each agent specializes. When it comes to advertising, marketing, and the like, agents shall be honest and truthful.
Duties to Other Agents
Articles 15-17 articulate that as professionals, we should all respect one another. We do this by not making false or reckless statements, soliciting other agent’s clients, engaging in disagreements with other agents regarding commission, fees, compensation, or other forms of payment or expenses, and if a dispute arises agents agree to mediate the issue first. Essentially, the golden rule: treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated.
It is important that not only do we all abide by these codes set forth, but that you as the buyer or seller know what to expect. Here is to a happy, healthy, and ethical 2019!