During its May meeting in Washington, D.C., the National Association of REALTORS® made a few updates to the Code of Ethics that are effective in 2019.

Brokers and agents must affirm offers are submitted

Standard of Practice 1-7 was updated in response to frustrations voiced by brokers in busy markets who don’t know if their offers are actually presented to sellers. This standard now requires that if a buyer’s broker asks whether the offer was submitted, a listing broker or agent must provide an affirmative, written response, unless the seller provided a written waiver of the broker’s obligation to present certain offers.

Clearing up confusion in ethics hearings

A change to Section 13(d) of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual clarifies the rights and role of REALTOR® principals in an ethics hearing. Specifically:

  • A respondent’s REALTOR® principal has the right to be present during the hearing without providing notice.
  • A respondent’s REALTOR® principal can make opening/closing statements, examine/cross-examine parties and witnesses, introduce documents, consult with respondent, testify, and respond directly to questions from the panel.
  • A complainant, in his or her sole discretion, may allow his or her REALTOR® principal to receive documentation related to the complaint and participate in the hearing as a witness or as counsel.

Local associations have second policy option to publicize repeat violators

Although TAR administers the ethics hearing process, local associations enforce those hearing decisions and determine whether they will publish the names and photos of ethics violators.

Professional Standards Policy Statement 45 was amended to allow two options for local associations to choose regarding publishing the names of ethics violators. The existing option, when adopted, allows a local association to publish names, articles violated, and disciplinary actions in official communications intended primarily for members of the local association—but only after a second violation occurs within three years.

The newly added second option, when adopted by a local association, allows the local association to publish all instances in which an ethics violator is disciplined with a letter of reprimand, a fine, suspension, and/or expulsion—without the requirement for a second violation within three years. The ethics violator’s name, photo, article violated, and discipline imposed may only be published in official communications intended primarily for members of the local association.