As an instructor who presents NAR’s quadrennial “Code of Ethics” training as well as teaching numerous other continuing education courses, I have found a constant need for ethics training. After all, the Code is what raises us (REALTORS®) to the higher standard of behavior expected by our respective clients.
Case in point: in the day-to-day activities of real estate professionals, sometimes the courtesy we extend to the public, the listings, and each other can be ‘lost in the shuffle’ as we transact properties in this somewhat challenging environment.
To address this, while the Code of Ethics establishes objective, enforceable ethical standards, NAR’s Pathways to Professionalism is a list of professional courtesies for voluntary use by REALTORS® which address issues of courtesy or etiquette. The articles were established by REALTORS® as another level to professional conduct. Below is an excerpt from the third section of Pathways to Professionalism: Respect for Peers.
Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
There can be something aggravating about not being able to reach the agent on the other side of a transaction. Professional relationships may be tarnished and client relationships damaged. In this current age of smartphones, professional assistants, and other creative ways of covering an agent’s absence, accessibility should ALWAYS be a priority.
Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets and security systems, and whether Sellers will be present during a showing.
Warnings on condition can be particularly important when marketing Real Estate Owned (REO) properties, which may or may not conform to building and safety codes due to condition. I recall the time we received only the front page of a ‘Title V’ inspection report. Although it showed a ‘pass,’ a later page revealed that the system was designed for fewer bedrooms than represented. BE THOROUGH!
Show courtesy, trust, and respect to other professionals.
The preamble to NAR’S Code of Ethics refers to this ‘Golden Rule.’ It is important to remember that relationships with our peers usually outlive client relationships. Long after the transaction closes, the two professionals involved are still likely doing business with each other.
Return keys promptly.
We all have had the experience of returning home from a showing only to find we are in possession of keys that belong in the lockbox…or back in the listing office. As inconvenient as it may be, those keys must be returned ASAP! Deliberately retaining the keys of a listing your buyer shows interest in (thus limiting availability) is not only against the Code of Ethics, but also simply bad behavior, possibly leading to loss of reputation. REMEMBER: reputations are hard earned, but easily lost!