The REALTOR®’s Code of Ethics
All REALTORS® pledge to abide by a strict code of professional conduct. This conduct is outlined in the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics.
REALTORS® and members of the public who feel they have been treated unfairly by a REALTOR® can use the Professional Standards process to seek satisfaction.
Only Principal REALTOR® members with contractual matters arising out of their relationship may use the process of Arbitration. Principal REALTORS® may file for arbitration and request a hearing before the Professional Standards Committee.
Additional Professional Standards Resources/ Training
CODE OF ETHICS FAQS
What’s the difference between an ethics complaint and arbitration request?
An ethics complaint charges that a REALTOR® or non-resident member has violated an Article(s) of the Code of Ethics. An arbitration request involves a controversy over entitlement to a monetary transaction (e.g., a commission).
Who can file and ethics complaint?
Any person, whether a member or not, having reason to believe that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action
Who can file an arbitration request?
A customer, client or REALTOR®
Is there a time limit?
Yes. Ethics complaints must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days that the alleged offense and relating facts could have been known by the complainant in the exercise of reasonable diligence. Requests for arbitration must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the closing of the transaction, if any, or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the arbitrable matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later.
Who should I give the complaint or request to?
The Association Executive at the Heartland Association of REALTORS®.
What should be included with the ethics complaint or arbitration request?
An ethics complaint form must be completed and filed. In addition, a written statement of the facts (with appropriate documentation, if any) on which the complaint is based must also be included, dated and signed by the complainant. The appropriate Article(s) as they pertain to the facts in the alleged violation must be cited in the complaint.
An arbitration request form must be completed and submitted with details of the dispute and the deposit as set by the association ($250 as directed by the board, refundable if the matter is found to be non arbitrable). In addition, include whatever documentation may help to substantiate your position.
Are there certain Articles that can or can’t be cited?
Only Articles 1 through 17 may be the basis of a complaint. The Preamble is aspirational and establishes ideals that a REALTOR® should strive to attain. Because of its subjective nature, the Preamble may not be used as a basis for charges of alleged unethical conduct or as the basis for disciplinary action.
Can Standards of Practice be cited in an ethics complaint?
No. Standards of Practice may be cited only in support of the Article(s) that was allegedly violated.
Are there issues or complaints that should not be brought before a board/association of REALTORS®?
Yes. A charge of violating the law or State real estate regulations is not a matter that would be considered by the Board/Association of REALTORS®.
Is submitting to arbitration mandatory?
It depends on the circumstances. A REALTOR® may be obligated to arbitrate, or he/she may have a choice as to whether or not to voluntarily participate in an arbitration proceeding conducted by the board/association of REALTORS®.
When is arbitration mandatory/voluntary?
Mandatory – When the dispute is between:
- REALTORS® who are principal brokers (a sole proprietor, partner, corporate officer, majority shareholder, or branch office manager of a real estate firm) in different firms;
- Clients and REALTOR® principals
Voluntary – When the dispute is between:
- Members in the same firm;
- a REALTOR®, who is a principal broker, and a non-member principal broker in another firm;
- customers and REALTOR® principals.
Pathway to Professionalism
- Follow the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
- Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
- Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.
- If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
- Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
- When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
- Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules.
- Never criticize property in the presence of the occupant.
- Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.
- When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock – and announce yourself loudly – before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
- Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
- If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
- Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
- Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
- Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
- Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
- Be aware of – and meet – all deadlines.
- Promise only what you can deliver – and keep your promises.
- Identify your REALTOR® and your professional status in contacts with the public.
- Do not tell people what you think – tell them what you know.
- Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter listed property.
- Never allow buyers to enter listed property unaccompanied.
- When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
- Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
- Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination.
- When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc). If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism) contact the listing broker immediately.
- Be considerate of the seller’s property. Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities, or bring pets. Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.
- Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property.
- Identify your REALTOR® and professional status in all contacts with other REALTORS®.
- Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
- Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.
- Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
- Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
- Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.
- Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
- Do not prospect at other REALTORS®’ open houses or similar events.
- Return keys promptly.
- Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.
- To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.
- Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today may affect your reputation – and business – for years to come.