Preface to Case Interpretations

Preface to the Thirty First Edition of Interpretations of the Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS® establishes a public and professional consensus against which the practice and conduct of REALTORS® and REALTOR-Associate®s may be judged. Where the word REALTORS® is used in this Code and Preamble, it shall be deemed to include REALTOR-Associate®s. In joining an Association of REALTORS®, REALTORS® signify their intention to abide by the Code and thereby enhance the public and professional image of themselves and all other REALTORS®. Adherence to the Code is the first great bond between REALTORS® throughout the country.

Interpretations of the Code of Ethics has been developed by the Professional Standards Committee of the National Association of REALTORS® to help REALTORS® understand the ethical obligations created by the Code of Ethics, and as a reference work for Grievance Committees, ethics and arbitration Hearing Panels, and Boards of Directors.

Professional Standards Policy Statement 57, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, provides as follows:

57. Case Interpretations are Official Policy

The Case Interpretation of the Code of Ethics approved by the National Association’s Professional Standards Committee and published in Interpretation of the Code of Ethics illustrate and explain the principles articulated in the Articles and Standards of Practice. While a Realtor® cannot be found in violation of a Standards of Practice or a Case Interpretation, both are official statements of National Association policy and are not merely advisory. Both can be cited by complainants in support of alleged violations of Articles and by hearing panels in support of decisions that an Article(s) has been violated. (Adopted 11/10)

Interpretations of the Code of Ethics presents specific situations involving charges of alleged unethical conduct by REALTORS® which are reviewed by a peer panel of Association Members and in which decisions as to ethical conduct are reached. Each case provides the Hearing Panel’s decision based on the facts and the rationale for the decision, but does not specify a specific sanction or discipline to be imposed. There are two reasons for this. First, any sanction imposed must always fit the offense and must involve every consideration of justice, equity, and propriety. Second, a Hearing Panel may base its recommendation for discipline on a Member’s past record of ethics violations.

For this reason, the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual establishes that a Member Association may utilize a wide range of sanctions for ethics violations.

While Associations of REALTORS® have wide latitude in the sanctions which may be imposed for violations of the Code of Ethics, they must always act responsibly in the application of these sanctions, attempting to make the punishment commensurate with the offense. The mildest forms of sanction, a Letter of Warning or a Letter of Reprimand, would generally be the appropriate sanction for first offenses, except in cases involving gross or willful misconduct. Where ignorance of the Code of Ethics is involved, the Board may find that requiring the Member to attend a course or seminar reviewing the Code of Ethics and its interpretations to be the most appropriate sanction.

Interpretations of the Code of Ethics is formatted to provide the reader with information on each Article of the Code of Ethics and its interpretations in sequence. Interpretations of the Code of Ethics contains citations to Case Interpretations which were deleted, amended, or adopted as a result of the work of the Professional Standards Committee, providing a complete historical record for the reader. All new and amended Case Interpretations become effective upon approval by the National Association’s Professional Standards Committee and publication on nar.realtor. (Revised 5/17)

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