News & Information: Risk Management Resource

Promise of Professionalism

Tuesday, February 18, 2014  
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Each and every REALTOR® has pledged to protect and promote the interests of customers, the public, and their fellow REALTORS®

By Sarita Cabrera

REALTORS® have to take many continuing education classes in order to maintain their real estate license, but the class that always seems to draw the biggest groans is the mandatory Code of Ethics course required to maintain status as a REALTOR®.

Yet the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is the lifeblood of how we should conduct our daily business! Although some may say that the document is dry reading, the intent of each passage is to guide REALTORS® in providing both customers and fellow REALTORS® with the best and most ethical service possible.

Over the past year, as the code surpassed its 100th year of existence, mind-boggling violations continued to occur. It’s important for REALTORS® to understand the real-world application of the code! Here are six instances where REALTORS® forgot their promise of professionalism:

  • A REALTOR® decided to have a private rendezvous at the seller's property. (Article 1-16—REALTORS® shall not access or use listed or managed property on terms other than those authorized by owner.)

  • A REALTOR® provided a combination lockbox code to a buyer and allowed the buyer to preview a property alone. (Article 3-9—REALTORS® shall not provide access to listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or the listing broker.)

  • A REALTOR® and the seller changed the offer of compensation after a cooperating agent e-mailed an offer on a tradition sale to the listing agent. (Article 3-2—any change in compensation must be communicated to the Realtor® prior to offer being submitted.)

  • A REALTOR® reviewed options such as deed-in-lieu, bankruptcy, and short sale with a prospective listing client. (Article 13—REALTORS® shall not engage in activities that constitute the unauthorized practice of law and shall recommend legal counsel.)

  • A REALTOR® made misleading statements about another broker and brokerage during a recruiting appointment. (Article 15—REALTORS® will not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.)

  • A REALTOR® approached sellers under an exclusive right of listing with another brokerage and offered an incentive to switch listing. (Articles 16-2 and 16-4—REALTORS® shall not solicit listings currently listed exclusively with another broker.)

At our REALTOR® orientation class, however recent or however long ago, we all pledged to protect and promote the interests of customers, the public, and each other. It’s important to continue to lift up public opinion of the term REALTOR® by understanding and abiding by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. I suggest that each of you re-read the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in its entirety every year.

Sarita Cabrera, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty , is a member of the ORRA Risk Management Subcommittee. She can be reached at

ORRA frequently schedules classes, workshops, and online offerings related to risk management. Check the ORRA Calendar often, as new classes are continually being added to the education lineup.


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