REALTORS Complain About the Code
It’s too harsh or restrictive – or its not restrictive enough. Its enforced too harshly, or not harshly enough. There always seems to be some issues about the Code of Ethics. The first Code of Ethics was published in 1913, five years after the founding of the National Association of REALTORS. It has been changed numerous times and has had as many as 34 Articles, though currently there are only 17 (and only one of those deals with money disputes).
The Code has survived so long, and been as effective as it has, because the Code is a living document, reviewed and modified every year. And in that process the voice of any member can be heard.
So How Does it Work?
Anyone can initiate a change in the code, or an issue for the consideration of The Professional Standards Committee. Often it starts with someone standing up at the Professional Standards Forum, a meeting open to all members, which takes place immediately before the Professional Standards Committee meeting at the Mid-Year meeting in Washington and the Annual Meetings in November. The Forum has an agenda created by the Volunteer leadership and the Staff, but they exist to solicit information from members about what their concerns are.
Those members who do not attend these meetings can always send a letter directly to the Professional Standards Committee at NAR’s headquarters in Chicago. Sometimes letters will come from local or state associations who have a concern either about the Code, the standards of practice, or the enforcement of the code.
Then What Happens
Once the item is brought before the committee, if it warrants further consideration, it is referred to the Interpretations and Procedures sub-committee, sometimes called the small committee. Chaired by the immediate past chair of the Professional Standards Committee (sometimes called the large committee) , this group discusses issues that will be presented to the large committee at their twice annual meetings.
The small committee does the wordsmithing and discusses new issues, to help develop the agenda of the large committee. It does not however have the authority to act without the approval of the full committee, which includes members from every state in the union. The small committee (which meets in March and September in Chicago) will frame the items to be brought to the large committee with their recommendations.
Once the times have been framed for the agenda, the large committee will either defeat the recommendation, send it back to the small committee for further work, or pass the recommendation (possibly with changes from the floor).
If the item passes, then the real fun begins.
NAR’s Leadership Team
After an item has been recommended by the Large Committee, the Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee has the job of presenting the recommendations to the Executive committee. The Executive Committee meets the day before the Board of Directors. They will hear the recommendation an its rationale, and either decide against the recommendation and send it back to committee, or approve it and send it forward to be approved by the Board of Directors.
Though presenting to the Leadership team of NAR is intimidating, presenting in front of the all of the directors of NAR is as daunting a task. The committee chair presents the recommendation to the Board where it is discussed yet again, and either sent back to committee for further consideration, defeated or approved. If approved, the matter is published and distributed to the members. And that dear REALTORS is how the changes are made to the Code of Ethics, the Standards of Practice, and the manner in which they are administered.
Photo Credit: Ethics and Morals- Timeless and Universal? Image Courtesy of Creative Commons