Beat the Clock

Help your members meet Code of Ethics training requirements.

Ian P. Murphy is senior editor of REALTOR® AE magazine.

NAR’s Board of Directors approved a change to its Code of Ethics training requirement in 2019, making the training mandatory for members every three years rather than every two. REALTORS® have until Dec. 31 of this year to complete the training—and while it requires only about 2.5 hours of instruction, some REALTORS® will scramble to satisfy the requirement, creating a challenge for association executives.

Associations must use every communication vehicle at their disposal to remind members of the requirement—callouts on their websites, email alerts, social media posts, text messages, and more. Still, a few REALTORS® will be shocked and dismayed when their memberships are temporarily suspended Jan. 1.

“Local associations are responsible for tracking the requirement,” says Tonya Deskins, vice president of member services at West and SouthEast REALTORS® of the Valley in Arizona. “Associations spend a great deal of time making sure our members remember that it’s different than a licensing requirement.”

Time Is of the Essence

The Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® in Arizona reminds members of the requirement and deadline whenever the opportunity arises. “If one of my staff members is on the phone with a member, they pull up the member’s record and check as they’re talking,” says CEO Rebecca Grossman, RCE, GREEN. “That allows them to have the conversation there and then.”

Use anything you can to get their attention." 
— Carol C. Seal, CEO and Executive Vice President, Greater Chattanooga REALTORS®

Attention-getting visuals help, she says. One SAAR has used in the past employs a famous still from The Wizard of Oz showing the Wicked Witch of the West holding an hourglass to indicate that time is running out. NAR offers resources to help association executives create eye-catching social posts and emails, Grossman notes, and fellow AEs may be able to offer suggestions. “We have more than 8,500 primary members to track,” she says. “You send an email to 8,500 people, and how many are actually going to read it?”

“Use anything you can to get their attention, from funny social posts to direct messaging with a subject line to the effect of ‘Act Now to Avoid Suspension of Membership Privileges,’” says Carol C. Seal, RCE, AHWD, C2EX, e-PRO, CEO and executive vice president of Greater Chattanooga REALTORS® in Tennessee. “Even if you think you don’t have enough staff to make individual phone calls, you’ll need to find a way.”

“We have added temporary staff to assist with documenting data, collecting data, and reaching out to individual members, as well as reaching out to brokerages to let [designated REALTORS®] know that the requirement has not been met,” Deskins says.

Tout Your Training

To encourage on-time satisfaction of the requirement, “provide many different options for members,” Deskins says. “Offer online, video, live classroom, and live/remote classroom training.”

NAR offers a course, as do many state and local associations. Some real estate schools may also offer courses claiming to satisfy NAR’s training requirements, but AEs must partner with outside entities to ensure that their courses are sufficient to qualify for NAR credit.

If members get suspended (and some will), offer makeup training sessions in the first weeks of January so that memberships can be reactivated as quickly as possible, Deskins says. A suspension doesn’t mean that a member is suddenly freed from the strictures of the Code of Ethics or dues payments, she notes.

Seal suggests creating incentives to get members into compliance early. “If you can afford to do a prize drawing for everyone who completes the training by X date, it’s a win-win,” she says. “Members have the chance to win an awesome prize, and you have fewer people to worry over as the deadline draws near.”

Frame the requirement as a want-to-do rather than a have-to-do, Grossman adds. “Make sure you and your staff present the requirement as an opportunity to learn.”

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