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Field Guide to Real Estate Office Policy Manuals

(Updated December 2013)

How do you keep your office running smoothly? These days it's essential for companies to have written documentation about office policies and procedures. An easy-to-understand guidebook for salespeople to refer to in their daily business can help solve and prevent disputes, and helps ensure the success and reputation of your company. The articles and books in this field guide provide you with the necessary tools and tips to create a policy manual for your real estate office. (D. Shumaker, Senior Library Information Specialist)


What a Policy Manual Should Do

  • Provide a clear understanding of the relationship between broker and sales associates, management and employees, and administrative functions and sales functions.
  • Permit the anticipation of and resolution of controversies before they arise.
  • Stabilize both management and sales by building confidence that both management and sales associates know the rules by which the game is to be played.
  • Forbid favoritism, since all must operate within the framework of the manual's predetermined rules and guidelines.
  • Provide stability of organization and permit the staff to function effectively in the absence of management

Source: Portions adapted from Real Estate Office Management, 4th Ed., (Chicago, IL: Real Estate Education Co. 2004).


Real Estate Office Policies

Even if it enrages your boss, social net speech is protected, (New York Times, Jan. 21, 2013). As Facebook and Twitter become as central to workplace conversation as the company cafeteria, federal regulators are ordering employers to scale back policies that limit what workers can say online.

Office Romance Policies can Reduce Risk, (Worfork, Sept. 2012). Experts say companies should define their policies around co-workers dating, particularly when it comes to managers dating subordinates.

Navigating the ‘choppy waters’ of religious accommodation, (Portland Business Journal, Nov. 7, 2008)—Although most employers are aware that discrimination based on an employee’s religion is prohibited by federal and state laws, fewer actually understand the extent of protection that the laws offer individuals.

Office Politics, (Dallas Business Journal, Aug. 29, 2008). Promoting your campaign views at work is risky for both employer and employee.

Stay ahead of the technology use curve, (HRMagazine, Oct. 2008)—It's hard to stay ahead of the curve on creating technology use policies when what you want to govern changes at lightning speed. Q

Adopt a harassment policy, (Portland Business Journal, May 5, 2006).

Company policy is first defense against computer virus attacks, (Pacific Business News, Dec. 23, 2005).

Accommodation required for workers 'regarded as' disabled, (HR Focus, Nov. 2005). Q


Drafting a Policy Manual

How to Write a Social Media Policy, (Inc. May, 27, 2010). Whether your company is active on social media, your employees probably are. Here are some things to consider when creating a social media policy.

A Lighter Touch for Handbooks, (HRMagazine, May 2009)—Employee handbooks should reflect your culture, not just the law. Q

Important tips for writing your organization's employee handbook, (Memphis Business Journal, May, 30, 2008).

How to create an office policy manual, (REALTOR® Magazine Online, July 2006).

Employee Relations: Developing a Policy Manual, (National Association of REALTORS®—Human Resources Toolkit). Be sure to check out the 'related documents' in the box on the right side of the page for sample drug and harassment policy suggestions.

Creating an Office Policy for Do Not Call Rules, (National Association of REALTORS®).


Sample Policy Manuals & Manual Templates

Note: Many of these samples were developed by state or local associations based on local laws and regulations that may be different from those of your state. As with any legal document, you are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel to make sure your version is compliant with the law after you modify it for your business. Again, these samples are meant to be used as guides for members. The information should not be construed as a recommendation by NAR for any course of action regarding financial, legal or accounting matters. It is not meant as a substitute for professional advice from a qualified legal, accounting or financial professional.

Sample Policy Manual/Independent Contractor Agreement, (New Hampshire Association of REALTORS®, 2011). Created for New Hampshire members. Downloads as MS Word documents.

A Broker’s Guide to Creating a Policy and Procedure Manual, (ARELLO, 2012). [links to PDF document] Prepared by real estate regulators to assist a broker who is considering owning and/or operating a real estate brokerage, as this endeavor comes with much responsibility and liability.

Sample Employee Manual for Association Executives – download, (National Association of REALTORS®, 2010). This sample customizable employee manual geared toward local REALTOR® Associations is available to you in downloadable MS Word format. Manual includes topics on Technology, Time off, Compensation, Disciplinary policies and more.

Model Office Policy Manual, (North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, 2010). [links to MS Word document file]

Use of Social Media in the Real Estate Business, (National Association of REALTORS®). From NAR's Legal Affairs division, this members-only document provides brokers with a template that may be used when developing a social media policy for the broker's own firm.

Sample Policies, (Society of Human Resource Management, 2007). Benefits, diversity, safety, technology and other.

Office Policy Manual Guide, (Tennessee Association of REALTORS®, June 2003). [links to MS Word document file]

REALTOR® Association Resource Exchange (RARE), [for real estate Associations & Boards] Once you've signed in, choose browse by document type, and then "Policies/Procedures". Sample policies from boards across the country. An example would be General Office Policy Manual, (Northeast Tarrant County Association of REALTORS®, Apr. 2002). [links to MS Word document]


eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Broker office policies model manual, (Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Real Estate—Broker Office Policies Model Manual Committee, c2002). HF 5438 Es4 [link to PDF version in library catalog listing]

Office Policy Manual, (Madison, WI: Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, 2007). HF 5438 W75

Office Policy Manual, (Novato, CA: Professional Publishers, Inc. 2000). HF 5438 M19o

Policies and procedures manual: a guide for success in real estate, (Tallahassee, FL: The Real Estate School, 1998). HF 5438 P75p

Real Estate Brokerage Essentials®, Managing Legal and Business Issues, 3rd Ed., (Chicago, IL: National Association of REALTORS®, 2006). HD 1386 N21. Also available in the REALTOR.org Store for sale.

Real Estate Office Management, (Chicago, IL: Dearborn Real Estate Education, 2004). HF 5438 R22r Ed. 4

Workplace Law and Office Policies, (Chicago, IL: National Association of REALTORS®, 2001). HF 5549 N16wl

Office Policy Manual, (Madison, WI: Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, 2007). HF 5438 W75

Broker office policies model manual, (Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Real Estate—Broker Office Policies Model Manual Committee, c2002). HF 5438 Es4 [link to PDF version in library catalog listing]

Workplace Law and Office Policies, (Chicago, IL: National Association of REALTORS®, 2001). HF 5549 N16wl

Office Policy Manual, (Novato, CA: Professional Publishers, Inc. 2000). HF 5438 M19o

Policies and procedures manual: a guide for success in real estate, (Tallahassee, FL: The Real Estate School, 1998). HF 5438 P75p

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Opening a Real Estate Brokerage

Field Guide to Recruiting and Retaining Salespeople

InfoCentral Blog


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