Do you have a question or topic related to REALTOR ® ethics that you would like addressed in a future issue of Ethics Thursday? Click here to e-mail Scott Bush at the GMAR.
A Closer Look at Article 10 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics
Article 10 - REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14) REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
 
What if the Seller Wants to Select the “Right Buyer” for Their Neighborhood?
It is illegal for a seller to refuse to sell their home to someone because the person(s) is in one of the protected classes. If a seller insists on limiting or restricting the viewing of their property to members of a protected class, the broker should refer them to line 63 of the listing contract and to legal counsel. The broker may also elect to not enter into the listing if the broker believes the seller may attempt to engage in unlawful discrimination. If the broker knows that the seller wants to act in a discriminatory manner, and goes along with the sellers’ directives, the broker may be violating fair housing laws. Brokers who remain silent on discriminatory practices may also be found in violation of fair housing laws.

Answer a Question With a Question
When buyers ask you to recommend neighborhoods, be careful how you respond. It’s possible to inadvertently violate the Fair Housing Act by steering a customer to or from certain areas. Here are some tips on how to help buyers find the community they want, without crossing the line.

Ask About Their Interests
This will help you determine neighborhoods that fit their lifestyle without getting into questions of religion, ethnicity, or other sensitive matters. For example, bikers might want to be near a park with a bike path.

We Want Good Schools
When buyers ask questions about schools, point them to the school district’s website and encourage them to schedule a visit to the school(s). You can help them locate the district boundaries to ensure they’ll be purchasing within the school district they choose. But don’t say anything yourself about the quality of the schools. 

Crime—Is This a Safe Neighborhood? Direct Them to the Police.
If buyers want to get a picture of the area’s crime rate, direct them to the police department or other sources of information. Don’t disclose crime statistics or say a neighborhood is a safe place to live even if you believe it to be true.

Make a List of Spiritual Places
Develop a list of all houses of worship in the neighborhoods you serve and provide that as a resource to buyers.

Get to Know the Census Bureau
If buyers want to know the demographics of the area, refer them to the  "fact finder" section of the U.S. Census Bureau Website where they can find racial, ethnic, and economic breakdowns. If buyers want to dig deeper, refer them to the city government or local nonprofits.

Stick to the Rules
If buyers persist in asking questions that could result in a charge of steering, against you, be polite, but firm in telling them, "I’m sorry, but I can’t provide that information. Fair housing laws prevent me from steering people toward or away from a certain neighborhood based on the legally protected classes." Instead, provide buyers with resources to obtain the information on their own. 
NAR Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) Program is Raising the Bar for REALTOR ® Professionalism
The National Association of REALTORS ® proudly introduces Commitment to Excellence, a cutting-edge program that empowers REALTORS ® to evaluate, enhance, and showcase the highest levels of professionalism. As members, you can get started today by logging into the page below and taking the self-assessment that measures your proficiency in each of the elements of professionalism, known as the C2EX Competencies. Based on your results, the platform will generate customized learning paths, recommend experiences, and provide tools and resources to increase your knowledge and enhance your skill-sets. We encourage you to check out the C2EX program, and pass it along to others in your office and our industry who would benefit from the assessment.
We hope you enjoyed Issue #18 of Ethics Exchange 2019 brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS ® (GMAR). The GMAR created this newsletter, each issue dedicated to a unique issue, because the REALTOR ® Code of Ethics, on which our industry is built, is the foundation of what it means to be a REALTOR ® .
Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS ® , as well as members of the public, that every member of GMAR operates under the highest ethical standards.
Questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue can be directed to
Scott Bush at the GMAR Office (414-778-4929 or scott@gmar.ws).