GMAR Ethics Thursday
Welcome to Issue #2 of Ethics Thursday.

The GMAR created this newsletter, dedicated to a specific issue, because the REALTOR® Code of Ethics is the foundation on which our industry is built, and the basis of what it means to be a REALTOR®.

Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS® and the public that every member of the GMAR operates with the highest ethical standards.

Professional Courtesies
NAR developed the "Pathways to Professionalism" to help REALTORS® improve their practice, business climate and the image of REALTORS® by the public.
The GMAR has enhanced NAR's Pathways to Professionalism to include language that addresses discourteous behaviors reported in our own marketplace. 
Pathways to Professionalism
While the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association establish objective, enforceable ethical standards governing the professional conduct of REALTORS®, it does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette. Based on input from many sources, the Professional Conduct Working Group of the Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for use by REALTORS® on a voluntary basis.  This list is not all-inclusive, and may be supplemented by local custom and practice.
Respect for the Public
  1. Follow the "Golden Rule" - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
  3. Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
  4. Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.
  5. If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
  6. Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
  7. When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
  8. Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules. Do not leave behind business cards that contain advertisement.
  9. Never criticize property in the presence of the occupant.
  10. Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.
  11. When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock - and announce yourself loudly - before entering.  Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
  12. Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
  13. If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
  14. Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
  15. Communicate clearly; don't use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
  16. Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
  17. Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
  18. Be aware of - and meet - all deadlines.
  19. Promise only what you can deliver - and keep your promises.
  20. Identify your REALTOR® and your professional status in contacts with the public.
  21. Do not tell people what you think - tell them what you know.
  Respect for Property
  1. Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter listed property.
  2. Never allow buyers to enter listed property unaccompanied. Never give out a lock box combination.
  3. When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
  4. Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
  5. Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination. Alert the listing agent immediately if the lock box does not open or malfunctions.
  6. When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc).  If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism) contact the listing broker immediately. 
  7. Be considerate of the seller's property.  Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities, or bring pets.  Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.
  8. Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property. Consider the use of shoe covers in inclement weather.
  9. Politely remind parents to keep track of their children's activities as children can wander unoccupied, or handle the sellers' personal property.
Respect for Peers
  1. Identify your REALTORS® and professional status in all contacts with other REALTORS®.
  2. Respond to other agents' calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
  3. Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.
  4. Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
  5. Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
  6. Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.
  7. Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
  8. Do not prospect at other REALTORS®' open houses or similar events.
  9. Return keys promptly.
  10. Promptly provide showing reports to the listing agent.
  11. Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.
  12. To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.
  13. Real estate is a reputation business.  What you do today may affect your reputation - and business - for years to come.
REALTORS® Ethics Quiz
Test your knowledge of the Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.  Answers are at the bottom of this newsletter.

1. The two basic types of complaints that are handled by local associations are:

A. Ethics complaints and license law complaints.

B. License law complaints and mediation matters.

C. Ethics complaints and requests for arbitration.

D. License law complaints and requests for arbitration


2. REALTORS® have an obligation to protect and promote the interests of their clients but also have an obligation to treat all parties:

A. Fairly.

B. Honestly.

C. Fairly and honestly.

D. Politely.


3. A cooperating broker in a transaction may:

A. Claim to have "sold" the property involved in the transaction.

B. Post a "sold" sign on the property involved in the transaction after the closing

    (with the buyer's permission).

C. Not claim to have "sold" the property but may state that they have "participated"  

     or "assisted" in the transaction.

D. Both A and B.


Exaggeration in Advertising 
(Case Interpretation Relating to Art. 12)
Prospect A noted REALTOR® B's advertisement on his website  describing a home with five acres "about 20 miles from the city" giving directions to the "modern 3-bedroom home, well maintained, and set in a charmingly landscaped site."
After visiting the property, Prospect A filed a complaint with the Association of REALTORS® complaining of the gross exaggeration contained in the advertisement, which had induced  him to waste time and money in inspecting the property.  The property, he said, was actually 36 miles from the city limits. Its wood-lath support for plaster, which was visible in many large breaks in the walls, indicated it to be 80 years old or more.  There was no evidence of painting in recent years. Several windows were broken, half of the back steps were missing.  The house was located at the end of a crude dirt road in a small cleared area that had become densely overgrown in weeds-a picture of extreme neglect.
REALTOR® B was notified of the charge of misleading advertising, and a hearing was held.  REALTOR® B criticized the complainant for bringing the matter to the Association, pointing out that Prospect A had failed to mention that the property was priced at only $90,000;  that at such a price it was an exceptionally good buy to anyone looking for a small place with a few acres; that to get attention to such properties it was necessary to do a bit of "puffing" to attract attention in advertising; that as a matter of fact the general lines of the house were similar to many of modern design; that the house had been well enough maintained to be salvageable by anyone who would do a reasonable amount of work on it; and that, in his opinion, the site was truly "charming" in its rugged simplicity.
The Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® B had used gross exaggeration in his advertisement and was found in violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics.
REALTORS® Ethics Quiz Answers 


1. The two basic types of complaints that are handled by local associations are:

A. Ethics complaints and requests for arbitration - An ethics complaint is a complaint  

    about a REALTOR®'s conduct that has allegedly violated one of the Articles of the Code of

    Ethics.  Under Article 17 of the Code, REALTORS® are required to arbitrate certain types

    of monetary disputes they have with other REALTORS®. So, a second type of matter

    handled most frequently by local associations is a request for arbitration falling under  

    Article 17 of the Code.



2. REALTORS® have an obligation to protect and promote the interests of their clients but
    also have an obligation to treat all parties:


B. Honestly
- Article 1 of the Code sets out these fiduciary concepts. The obligation to protect
     and promote the client's interests is balanced by the obligation to treat all parties honestly.



3. A cooperating broker in a transaction may:

D.  Both A and B - According to the Standard of Practice 12-7, "Only REALTORS® who
     participated in the transaction as the listing broker or cooperating broker (selling broker)
     may claim to have 'sold' the property. Prior to closing, a cooperating broker may post a
     'sold' sign only with the consent of the listing broker." Thus, a cooperating broker involved
     in a transaction may claim to have sold the property in the transaction. The only time
     limitation in the Standard of Practice relates to the cooperating broker posting a "sold"
     sign before closing. After closing, permission of the listing broker is not necessary for
     a cooperating broker to post the "sold" sign.

To learn more about local real estate or to become a GMAR member visit gmar.com