Working with a Realtor gives buyers, sellers and investors many advantages they need to succeed in today's real estate market. One of those advantages is the assurance that Realtors subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics which provides their clients with the highest degree of professionalism, ethics and service. And this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Realtor Code of Ethics.
Not all real estate licensees are Realtors. Only those who are a member of National Association of Realtors (NAR) can use the term "Realtor." A Realtor subscribes to the Code of Ethics as a condition of NAR membership. Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have access to advanced educational opportunities and training in real estate specialties, bringing value to buyers, sellers and investors.
The Code is a comprehensive document spelling out professional responsibilities owed to clients, other Realtors and the public. All Realtors must take comprehensive training on NAR's Code of Ethics at least once every four years to retain their membership. Adopted in 1913, NAR was only the second trade or business group in the U.S. to adopt mandatory ethical standards for its members.
Real estate is a business based on trust, and working ethically is a way to build trustworthy relationships. Buying and selling a home is a major, life-altering decision, and buyers and sellers need to be able to depend on their Realtor to guide them through the process with their best interests in mind. The Code helps provide an added layer of security to help Realtors do just that.
Consisting of 17 articles organized into duties to clients and customers, the public and Realtors, the Code outlines numerous professional responsibilities. For instance, Realtors must be honest with all parties in the real estate transaction, including their client, other Realtors, or real estate agents and their clients. Realtors should also be forthcoming with all parties by disclosing all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction. If something seems questionable about a property, the Realtor is obligated to investigate and make recommendations that buyers consult their own expert and inspectors. In addition, Realtors must be truthful in advertising and communications with the public. When distributing newsletters, creating websites or placing advertisements, Realtors must represent only their work and not take credit for the work of another real estate professional.
So remember, when you are buying or selling real estate, be sure to ask if your agent is a Realtor and a member of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.
Jean Beck is executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.