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Professional Practices for REALTOR® Associations

While strong, cooperative relationships among the different entities of the REALTOR® association have long been the strength of the organization, there are times when conflicts arise and associations need a “little help from their friends” to help resolve differences.

NAR’s Association Executives Committee identified the following aspirational Standards of Conduct and Unacceptable Business Practices that are intended to guide the professional practices of REALTOR® association volunteer and staff leaders.

Standards of Conduct

Since each new year brings a new leadership team to every association, staff and volunteer leaders are encouraged to acknowledge desired Standards of Practice each year and to demonstrate their commitment to these principals. The Standards of Conduct and a corresponding signature form can be found on the AE page of REALTOR.org, in the Association Management section.

  1. Maintain the highest standards of personal conduct.
  2. Actively promote and encourage the highest degree of ethics at all levels within the real estate industry.
  3. Maintain loyalty to the REALTOR® association, and pursue its objectives in ways that are consistent with member and public interest.
  4. Abide by association policies, procedures, and laws impacting REALTOR® associations.
  5. Strive for excellence in all aspects of leading and managing the association.
  6. Serve all association members fairly and impartially.
  7. Refuse to engage in a decision-making capacity or to accept personal benefit from business-related activities, which might create a conflict of interest, without full disclosure and knowledge of the association's governing board.
  8. Maintain confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known by virtue of an office or position, unless disclosure is necessary to protect the interests of the association.
  9. Refuse to engage in, or countenance, activities for personal gain at the expense of the association or the real estate industry.
  10. Refuse to engage in, or countenance, unlawful discrimination.
  11. Ensure that communicated data and information is accurate and truthful.
  12. Cooperate in every reasonable and appropriate way with other association executives and officers, and work with them in the advancement of the association and the real estate industry.
  13. Create and promote a positive public image and role for the REALTOR® association and the real estate industry.
  14. Ensure that the objective of all association actions and pursuits is to provide the best possible services for the REALTOR® member.

Unacceptable Business Practices

The Unacceptable Business Practices (UBPs), outline behaviors and business practices to be avoided by REALTOR® associations. The UBPs are intended to encourage awareness of behaviors that REALTOR® associations should avoid, and to eliminate such practices from the industry.

  1. Knowing or reckless false or misleading representations about other REALTOR® associations or the association's programs, products, or services
  2. False, deceptive, or misleading advertising or marketing practices
  3. Illegal business practices
  4. Knowing violation of state or national policies or mandated local policies
  5. Undisclosed conflict of interest

Resolving Conflict

Associations that cannot resolve their differences have some options to help them overcome conflicts with other REALTOR® associations.

  • Seek assistance from the state association as an objective third party.
  • Submit to NAR’s mandatory mediation program where a third party mediator will help the parties reach a mutually agreeable solution. The mediation procedures and the corresponding Standards of Conduct and UBPs can be found on the AE page of REALTOR.org, in the Association Management section (If an association is engaged in a lawsuit involving alleged violations of the UBPs, NAR cannot process a mediation request from either of the parties if the alleged violations are the same as those at issue in the pending litigation. Once the litigation has concluded, mediation may be pursued.)

Classroom Course on Ethics for Association Leaders

NAR offers participant and facilitator materials for a classroom format course developed in accordance with the Standards of Conduct and UBPs. The course is intended to help associations distinguish between competitive business practices and unacceptable business practices. The materials for this course, Ethics for REALTOR® Association Staff and Volunteer Leaders, Not Always a Black and White Issue, can be downloaded from the AE page of REALTOR.org, in the AE Education section at no cost.