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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Realtor Association Moves to Increase Skills and Professionalism of Members

[Published Jan. 8, 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section. An abbreviated version also appeared in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers.]

I was heartened recently to read the following report of a major new initiative from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) aimed at going beyond our respected Code of Ethics toward creating more professionalism among members.

Rather than paraphrase it, here’s the report, taken verbatim from NAR emails:

“As part of a wide-ranging set of recommendations to raise the bar on Realtor professionalism, the NAR Board of Directors at its Nov. 10 meeting in New Orleans approved the drafting of a proposed aspirational Code of Excellence to be brought to the board at a future meeting for approval.

“The goal is to raise the practice of real estate measurably through increased training in the competencies that consumers value. These competencies include the stewardship of property listing data, privacy and security of consumer information, advocacy of property rights, community involvement, and technology.

“ ‘This is the first step in a process for the continuing improvement of our profession,’ said NAR President Steve Brown.  The provision was passed after extensive debate on the floor of the meeting. Related provisions were also passed. These include provisions that would do the following: 

  • Change the frequency of NAR’s Code of Ethics educational requirement from every four years to every two years, starting in 2016;
  • Add a biennial Code of Excellence education requirement; and mandate continual updating of the training;
  • Help its members strive to be proficient in data content and have efficient access to the broadest range of data available; and
  • Develop an industry standard that would allow consumers to evaluate Realtors fairly and accurately.

“It's a move that has long been contemplated by both NAR leaders and rank-and-file members who say a higher standard is essential for maintaining Realtor's central role in the real estate transaction.

"Over more than a dozen years, the association has taken measures to encourage professionalism, including passing a Code of Ethics training requirement, rolling out new designations and certifications, and establishing a masters in real estate program through Realtor University.

“NAR President Steve Brown said moving forward with the project is essential for the organization. He noted that NAR has considered the idea for 25 years and said he has heard from many association stakeholders about the importance of strengthening the real estate industry's value to consumers.”    [End of NAR blog excerpts]

I’ll be curious to see the follow-through by NAR, because not all of the comments from Realtors on the NAR blog posts were positive.

Some agents saw it as an attack on current levels of expertise among members and an excuse to create yet another costly class by a trade association which is known to be losing membership. (Agents only need to be a member of NAR if they are in a brokerage where the managing broker or broker/owner is a Realtor.)

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