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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Confidentiality Reduces Effectiveness & Utilization of Realtor Code of Ethics

[Published May 30, 2013, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), in its advertising, cites the Realtor Code of Ethics (which celebrates its 100th birthday this year) as the single most important reason for making sure your agent is a Realtor. (Note: Only NAR members can call themselves a Realtor, and only half of the nation’s real estate licensees are members of NAR.)

When I first became a Realtor, I was surprised to learn that all disciplinary actions under the Code of Ethics are confidential. It would be “unethical” (per the Code) for me to tell you whether I filed a complaint and whether the Realtor was determined to have committed and Ethics violation.  I couldn’t even tell you about any actions taken by other agents against me.  So what good is that?

If, however, I were found guilty of violating licensing law by the Colorado Real Estate Commission, (CRED) my offense and discipline would be published on their website.  So why not Code of Ethics violations?  Shouldn’t the public know about them too?

Last week, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) voted to change that rule for themselves and to lobby NAR to change its policy, which only allows publication of Code violations when the agent has been found guilty twice in three years.

Consumers can file ethics complaints against Realtors, but I’ve only heard of Realtors charging fellow Realtors. (If your complaint is against a non-Realtor, you must file with the CREC or Metrolist, Denver’s MLS.)  You can find out whether your agent is a Realtor at  

Here's a link for the Realty Times story about the California Association of Realtors' action to end confidentiality of Ethics rulings.

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