These frequently asked questions, related to the Code of Ethics training requirement, have been updated for the 7th training cycle (beginning with the year 2022). The FAQs are grouped into categories and provide guidance to administrators and members on the requirement itself, which training courses count, as well as, recordkeeping and enforcement of the requirement.
Cycle 7 begins January 1, 2022 and ends on December 31, 2024. Cycle 8 will begin on January 1, 2025 and end December 31, 2027.
2. What Changes for Cycle 7?
Following the recommendations of a 2019 presidential advisory group, the NAR Leadership Team made several changes to the existing REALTOR® Code of Ethics training requirement to ensure greater member value and more efficient administration of the requirement by associations. Some of those changes are highlighted below.
Beginning January 1, 2022 – the start of the 7th cycle:
- Courses must include content on professional conduct, courtesies, business etiquette, and real-life scenarios.
- Only those courses and equivalencies provided by a local, state, or national REALTOR® association can satisfy the Code of Ethics training requirement. The Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) endorsement satisfies the requirement. Local associations may, however, partner with a third-party training provider to create a course that satisfies the requirement.
- Download a comprehensive implementation chart for these changes (PDF 128.79 KB)
View a recording of a webinar discussing the changes made to the Code of Ethics training requirement: View on YouTube.
Equivalency options are training alternatives for members to supplement a 2.5 hour course on the Code of Ethics. Right now, the only equivalency options approved by NAR are maintaining a Commitment to Excellence endorsement.
Partnering with a provider means a local or state association of REALTORS® has vetted a provider (i.e. real estate school, Code of Ethics educators, etc.), and confirmed that their course meets NAR's mandatory minimum criteria and learning objectives before the member takes the course.
5. Can a member satisfy the training requirement by taking a course from an approved provider at an association that is not their primary board?
Yes. Consistent with current NAR policy, members who take a course at a different association of REALTORS®, will satisfy the Code of Ethics training requirement. If a member takes a course through a partnered provider of an association in their own state or a neighboring state, an association must accept it for the Code of Ethics training requirement. If a course is taken from a partnered provider outside of those limits, it is up to each local association if they choose to accept it.
6. What responsibility do REALTORS® have for informing their association that they have met the requirement?
First, see Q&A #5 above as associations are not obligated to give credit for training that is not provided by the association or an approved provider. If REALTORS® take a course by an approved provider outside their primary association, they will want to provide proof of that completion to their primary association to ensure that they are aware . Thereafter, the local association must upload that information to the M1 membership database.
7. Do REALTOR® Emeritus Members have to complete the triennial Code of Ethics Training?
No, REALTOR® Emeritus Members are exempt from the Code of Ethics Training requirement. (added 11/18)
8. Can a state licensing authority's CE course count toward the Code of Ethics training requirement?
Yes, so long as the state's CE course incorporates all of the minimum criteria and mandatory learning objectives. As addressed in FAQ #10 below, the local association must make a determination as to whether the CE course meets the minimum criteria and mandatory learning objectives.
9. Can NAR Evaluate my Course for Approval?
NAR does not review course material to make those determinations for local associations or third-party educators. The learning objectives and minimum criteria in the policy were created for the express purpose of giving local and state associations clear guidance and assistance in determining exactly what must be addressed in any training course or program.
10. Who determines whether a particular provider and their course meet the NAR learning objectives and minimum criteria?
These are determinations local associations must make following the parameters established in the policy statements.
11. How does a Course or Educator Get Approved?
Individuals interested in providing the training will want to inquire with local associations whose members they intend to teach. Local associations are not required to agree to partner with third-party providers. Similarly, NAR does not evaluate nor "approve" educators or training providers.
12. How do local associations select instructors or providers? Are there criteria instructors must satisfy?
Instructor and provider selection is left to the discretion of local associations who are in the best position to evaluate local instructors and providers. Local associations may, but are not required to, partner with a third-party training provider to create a course that satisfies the requirement.
No, there are no NAR-imposed instructor certification requirements.
14. Are training materials available from NAR?
Yes, training materials including facilitator guides, student workbooks, PowerPoint presentations, and other tools that can be used easily and effectively by local and state associations are available at no cost on nar.realtor. In addition, NAR has developed two online courses—one meeting the New Member Orientation requirement, and the other meeting the REALTORS® Ethics Training requirement. These courses are available to all REALTORS® at no cost on nar.realtor:
15. If a REALTOR®'s firm prefers to develop a course for its own agents, must it be approved by NAR or the local association?
NAR does not review or approve courses developed by private providers, real estate firms, or associations of REALTORS®. However, local associations may, but are not required to, partner with that REALTOR® firm to approve their training, so long as the local association's staff has determined that the course satisfies the requirement.
16. Can state associations review courses delivered by proprietary providers as a service to their member associations?
17. Must associations (as POEs) post compliance information on M1 for their REALTOR® members who complete training through an approved provider (e.g. another association, a private provider, in-house training offered by the REALTOR®'s firm, etc.)?
18. Can Associations develop their own method to track REALTORS®' compliance?
In addition to using M1, the methods associations choose to use to ensure their members meet their membership obligations are determined locally. (revised 6/05)
19. How to Record course completion information in M1?
Member education information that can be recorded on M1 Education Records includes the type of training completed (New Member or existing REALTORS®) and a course number that corresponds to the year and cycle in which the training was completed. For more information, refer to this How to Add a Record in M1 and the Code of Ethics Training Toolkit for AEs.
20. How to see who has completed the requirement. Instructions on running M1 Reports for Code of Ethics Training: Instructions
Use these reports (PDF) to view not only members who have completed NAR's online ethics training, but any existing REALTOR® or REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® member who has taken any form of ethics training (including classroom courses) that meets the required learning objectives and criteria and has been recorded in NRDS. The reports can be set up to view only existing REALTOR® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® members that still need to complete training, or only existing REALTOR® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® members that have taken training.
21. What if an association fails or refuses to enforce the requirements with respect to their members?
Refusal to enforce mandatory policies established by the NAR Board of Directors can result in loss of NAR-provided professional liability insurance coverage and loss of charter status as a member board.
22. What happens if a REALTOR® doesn't meet the training requirement on time?
Failure to meet the requirement is a violation of a membership duty and will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any three (3) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated. (Revised 12/19)
23. What if a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, or corporate officer is suspended for non-compliance?
The consequences of suspension of a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner, or corporate officer are established in associations' bylaws (generally in Article VI) and vary from association to association based on what their bylaws provide. As a general rule, suspension for failing to meet the training requirement will be treated the same as suspension for violating any other membership duty. Some associations' bylaws require that the membership of all other principals, partners, and corporate officers suspends if any one of them is suspended—unless the suspended member severs her relationship with the firm. Other associations permit the other principals, partners, and corporate officers to avoid suspension if the suspended member removes herself from any form or degree of management control of the firm. These are choices each local association makes in establishing its bylaws. (Revised 6/04)
24. What if the REALTOR® who is suspended is not a principal, partner, or corporate officer?
Suspension of such an individual has no effect on the membership status of other REALTOR® members of the firm. (Revised 6/04)
25. What are the consequences of membership suspension?
The Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual as amended by the NAR Board of Directors at the 2004 Midyear meeting defines suspension, in relevant part, as "…suspension of all Board/Association-provided membership rights, privileges, and services (including those provided by the State and National Association) not available to nonmembers for a period of not less than thirty (30) days and not longer than one year, on terms and conditions expressly stated for an established period of time, including use of the terms REALTOR® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®, with automatic reinstatement of all withdrawn membership rights, privileges, and services at the end of the period of suspension. The 30-day minimum and one-year maximum do not apply where suspension is imposed for a remediable violation of a membership duty (e.g. failure to pay dues or failure to complete educational requirements. ..." The provisions go on to discuss the fact that membership—including the duties to abide by the Code of Ethics and to pay association dues—continues during the term of suspension.
What this means for a REALTOR® who is suspended for not meeting the REALTORS® ethics training requirement is that all the rights, privileges, and services she is entitled to receive because she is a REALTOR® are suspended until she satisfies the training requirement. If she meets the requirement the next day, then her rights, privileges, and services are restored the next day. While suspended, though, her obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics continues, as does the obligation to pay dues.
At the May 2005 Midyear Meetings of the National Association of REALTORS®, the NAR Board of Directors amended policy to provide that members suspended for failing to meet the REALTOR® ethics training requirement would subsequently be automatically terminated from membership if they did not complete their training. See question 4-5.1 below for more information. (Revised 6/05)
26. If a REALTOR® is suspended or expelled from membership because they did not take their Code of Ethics training, what happens to their MLS access?
Suspension of REALTOR® membership will, in most instances, have no effect on MLS participatory or user/subscriber privileges. Bottom line, only REALTOR® principals who belong to an MLS that requires membership in a local REALTOR® association can have their MLS access cut off for failure to comply with the Code of Ethics Training Requirement.
In general, MLSs are permitted by NAR policy to require MLS participants to belong to the local REALTOR® association that is providing the MLS service. Caselaw in some states (namely, the 11th circuit and California) suggest that MLSs cannot require association membership and so MLSs in those states generally do not have such requirement.
If an MLS requires membership in a local REALTOR® association as a condition of participatory rights in the MLS, then having MLS access terminated is an available sanction for not meeting the Code of Ethics Training Requirement in a timely manner. This outcome makes sense because, if the REALTOR® principal fails to comply with the training requirement altogether, then they can no longer belong to the association and thus cannot prevail themselves of the association's services.
It's important to note that the sanction of terminating MLS access for failing to adhere to the Code of Ethics Training Requirement is not appropriate or available for non-principal REALTORS®. REALTOR® non-principals cannot have their MLS access cut off as a condition of their board membership being suspended or terminated. REALTOR® non-principals gain access and use to MLS as a condition of being affiliated with an MLS participant regardless of the non-principal's individual membership status. We define suspension of membership in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual as "…suspension of all Board/Association provided membership rights, privileges and services (including those provided by the State and National Association) not available to nonmembers…"
Last, if an MLS does not require REALTOR® participants to belong to the local REALTOR® association that provides the MLS service, then termination of MLS access cannot be a sanction for failing to meet the COE Training Requirements. Because non-member brokers have the ability to participate in the MLS in that situation, then REALTOR® principals cannot be terminated from MLS access because no such sanction would also apply to non-member brokers. In this instance, the REALTOR® principal would lose membership in the local association and would thus need to re-designate its status with the MLS as a non-member (non-REALTOR®) participant. (Amended 12/2021)
27. How long can a member be suspended for not completing their REALTORS® ethics training?
Failure to meet the requirement for any three-year cycle will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any three (3) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.
28. Is it recommended that a declaratory judgment be sought prior to suspending a REALTOR® for failing to meet the training requirement?
No. If the obligation is clearly established in an association's bylaws, the only question is whether the member met the requirement. In many ways, this duty is analogous to the obligation to pay dues as required by an association's bylaws.
29. Do associations need to send certified letters indicating suspension is going to be imposed?
The policy does not require any particular form of notification. As a general rule, associations will want to follow the same procedures they ordinarily follow when suspending members for violations of other membership duties (e.g. failure to pay dues, fees, fines or assessments, violations of the Code of Ethics, etc.). Associations will want to make reasonable efforts to inform - and remind - members of their training obligation; the consequences of not meeting the training deadline; and the different training opportunities available to members. (Added 6/05)
30. Can an association charge a "reactivation fee" when members are reinstated?
NAR policy provides that membership is automatically reinstated at the end of suspension (either at the end of a specified term, such as 30, 60, or 90 days, or when a "remediable" offense resulting in suspension for an unspecified time period is "remedied". NAR policy does not expressly prohibit establishment of "reinstatement" or reactivation" fees, but if such fees are levied, authority should be clearly established in the association's bylaws and any fee should be reasonable and relate to the actual costs incurred in bringing the suspended member and her records back into good standing. (Added 6/04)
31. Are former members required to complete the previous cycle's training?
Some individuals may apply for REALTOR® membership after they have been terminated for failure to complete the previous cycle’s Code of Ethics training course.
Though local associations’ M1 point of entry staff would not code individuals rejoining after failing to complete the previous cycle’s training as “new members” in M1 (their “join date” should not change), from a membership “onboarding” perspective, the local association should follow its bylaws for new member applicants, which includes not prorating their membership dues (if the person was a REALTOR® at any point in the prior calendar year and had paid that year’s dues) and possibly assessing a new member application fee (see Articles V and X in your association bylaws for locally adopted procedures). Note for POE staff: if the individual failing to satisfy the previous cycle’s Code of Ethics training requirement was not a REALTOR® in the prior calendar year, then their dues would be prorated when rejoining and their “join date” in M1 should be changed.
When it comes to requiring Code of Ethics training, note that NAR’s model bylaws provides that if a new member applicant’s break in membership is for one (1) year or less, then that person should not be required to take a new member Code of Ethics training course.
Local associations may, however, but are not required to, enforce the previous cycle’s training requirement on those individuals who are rejoining (in the current cycle) but who did not complete the requirement before the end of previous cycle. If the local association chooses to require this for rejoining members, the individual should be instructed to take a Code of Ethics training course for existing members (offered by any approved provider – see FAQ #5 above) for the previous cycle. Upon receipt of proof of that completion, the local association’s M1 Point of Entry staff person would need to manually enter that information into M1 with a notation that that course is to count for the previous cycle. This would be done by the POE adding a course into M1 with a Course Code of the year followed by “C” and the cycle number for the previous cycle. The individual should be informed that they will have to take a second course existing member course in the current cycle, at some time prior to the expiration of the cycle.
Should the local association choose to direct the individual to NAR’s online Code of Ethics training course, they should direct the rejoining member to take NAR’s Code of Ethics course for existing members. The local association’s POE would thereafter need to manually delete the current cycle course the individual took and manually add a course record for the previous cycle (using the numbering sequence described above). The individual should be informed that they will have to take a second existing member course in the current cycle, at some time prior to the expiration of the cycle. That coding will automatically reflect the current cycle’s information.
FAQs revised February 2022