Most people outside the real estate industry use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably — like facial tissue and Kleenex®. This is incorrect. Although both terms are similar, there are two basic differences between real estate agents and REALTORS®: REALTORS® are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and must adhere to its Code of Ethics. Real estate agents do not.
The Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public, is strictly enforced and consists of 17 Articles and related Standards of Practice. It’s mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.
Here are the 17 things that REALTORS® pledge.
- REALTORS® protect and promote their clients’ interests while treating all parties honestly.
- REALTORS® refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.
- REALTORS® cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance their clients’ best interests.
- When buying or selling on their own account or for their families or firms, REALTORS® make their true position or interest known.
- REALTORS® do not provide professional services where they have any present or contemplated interest in property without disclosing that interest to all affected parties.
- REALTORS® disclose any fee or financial benefit they may receive from recommending related real estate products or services.
- REALTORS® receive compensation from only one party, except where they make full disclosure and receive informed consent from their client.
- REALTORS® keep entrusted funds of clients and customers in a separate escrow account.
- REALTORS® make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing and that parties receive copies.
- REALTORS® give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
- REALTORS® are knowledgeable and competent in the fields of practice in which they engage or they get assistance from a knowledgeable professional, or disclose any lack of expertise to their client.
- REALTORS® paint a true picture in their advertising and in other public representations.
- REALTORS® do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
- REALTORS® willingly participate in ethics investigations and enforcement actions.
- REALTORS® make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.
- Respect the exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with their clients.
- REALTORS® arbitrate financial disagreements with other REALTORS® and with their clients.
At the time of writing, Mark J. Kiklis, License #9090469, is the Broker-Manager at Kiklis Real Estate, LLC in Methuen, MA.