REALTOR CODE OF ETHICS
Ever wonder what working with a REALTOR(R) means to you, a home buyer or seller?
This month I taught 2 of my favorite real estate continuing education classes to Arizona REALTORS(R): The Ethics of Dual Agency and Coding the Contract = Client Care. Then yesterday two licensees asked me when I would be teaching my Ethics courses again…
I was first certified to teach the Code of Ethics back in 1989.
But, can you teach ethical behavior?
We can teach someone choices of behavior… usually pointing out consequences for bad behavior; but, can an educator “teach” ethical behavior?
Definition of a Code of Ethics: ”A written set of guidelines issued by an organization to its workers and management to help them conduct their actions in accordance with its primary values and ethical standards.
If you are a REALTOR(R) or are working with one, consider the following:
Not Everything Did I Learn in Kindergarten…
Yesterday I had the privilege and pleasure of attending one of the best real estate continuing education classes ever. 25 years. The class was put on by Lin Ferrara of Eagle University, First American Title, and featured Bill Gray of Arizona School of Real Estate and Business, along with our very own, Jim Sexton, of John Hall. The class was “The Code Rules” with a certificate for 3 hours of Commissioner’s Standards. It didn’t stop there! That same class gave all REALTOR® attendees their “Quadrennial Code of Ethics Training”…yes! Double value!
So what did I learn other than what I learned in kindergarten?
First, we need to review that insightful poem by Robert Fulghum which was read by Jim Sexton at the closing of the class:
- Share everything
- Play fair
- Don’t hit people
- Put things back where you found them
- Clean up your own mess
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody
- Wash your hands before you eat
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
- Live a balanced life
- Learn some and think some
- And draw and paint and sing and dance
- And play and work everyday some
- Take a nap every afternoon
- When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic
- Hold hands and stick together
- Be aware of wonder
“Be aware of wonder.” My personal favorite.
After 25 years in the real estate business as a salesperson, a broker, a trainer, an educator, a past member of the Arizona Real Estate Advisory Board, and an ardent believer that “if you can dream it, you can do it!”, I was profoundly moved and reminded of what professionalism means through the Code of Ethics and our Arizona statutes and rules.
What did I learn? Some things…
Article 1: I should never use the term “free” when I advertise my buyer-broker-value to a prospective client. Nothing in life is “free”.
Article 2: I must disclose what I know about my listing, but I am not required to investigate beyond my “standard of care”. Apparent is something I can see. Latent is different.
Article 3: If I am not a member of a board/association, I must contact the listing agent before showing a property to see if the listing agent will be cooperative with me and pay me. Until we have a statewide MLS, I could work for “free” if I’m not careful.
I must understand what a variable rate commission means and alert other brokers to put on their “best game” if I represent the seller, and a buyer, at a reduced commission, in a multiple offer situation.
Article 4: I must disclose any interest I have or any interest my family has in a property. If I can’t legally marry them (or remarry them), I should disclose them.
Article 5: If I want to purchase a property so I can “flip” it, I should not undervalue it if asked by the seller to give it a value. “Flipping” is okay. Under-puffing the goods is not.
Article 6: I must disclose the $xx “bonus” I get from the home warranty company for selling or giving a home warranty at closing.
Article 7: I must get the approval of my buyer for my broker to receive a “bonus” from the listing broker if my buyer buys the listed property.
Article 8: I must follow my broker’s office policies about earnest deposits and not keep client cash or checks in my desk drawer. I must turn over these monies to my broker to keep in the broker trust account so the broker can account for these monies to the client. Better than me losing the cash or the checks!!
Article 9: I must leave you, my client, with a copy of any agreements, so I will email the pdf file to you after we have written and signed it. Digital is great! Save a tree! We all have digital abilities through ZipForms, eSignatures, and the Internet. Life is good.
Article 10: I must never discriminate. If you are red, yellow, black, brown, green, single with children, gay, lesbian, Irish, Jewish, male or female, legally blind or different from me, I should find you a house.
Article 11: I will continue not to do certain types of real estate, like business broker biz or property management, because I don’t give it my best. I will refer business if I cannot properly service a client according to the standard of care. I will let my client know that we will do things differently if I cannot be as good as I can be. I want Christmas cards every year.
Article 12: If I advertise “free” anything, I need to explain the terms and conditions. “Free, but…”
Article 13: I should not overstep my 26th AZ Constitution Amendment abilities by giving legal advice on issues that I do not have expertise on, in, or around. Attorneys are good.
Article 14: If I am accused of being a bad REALTOR®, I’ll participate in the process so I can show I’m a good REALTOR®.
Article 15: Don’t talk “stink” about competitors. Don’t leave verbal cleat marks on the backs of competitors to get a listing or gain a buyer.
Article 16: I can go door-to-door with door hangers and put them on a door with a sign on the property if I am doing all doors in the area. It’s like mailing postcards…
Article 17: If I cannot get along with, disagree with, or am having a dispute with, another REALTOR®, I will submit it to the REALTOR® family to settle.
I learned that the reason I am still in real estate after 25 years is because of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, and because of those of you who were in the class. We learn, participate, and teach others, and in doing so, raise the bar of professionalism.
We are a profession.
REALTOR SINCE 1986
Kathy Howe aka SedonaKathy
- how2arizona real estate LLC
- Resident of Uptown Sedona
- Owner of how2educate LLC (real estate school)
- Owner of how2realty referrals LLC
- Maricopa County Court Mediator