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Real Estate

After several disturbing incidents, NAR amends Code of Ethics to include Realtors’ personal behavior

Now code addresses harassing or hate speech directed at protected classes of consumers

The National Association of Realtors voted on Friday in favor of a motion that makes it a violation for Realtors to use harassing or hate speech toward any of the protected classes under Article 10 of NAR’s Code of Ethics. Those classes include race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to NAR, its local, state and national associations received various complaints about discriminatory speech posted online by Realtors earlier this year. After months of meetings, NAR’s Advisory Board recommended that its Code of Ethics should apply to a Realtor’s professional and personal ethics. Now, any complaint that alleges a violation of Article 10 can be brought to a hearing panel at a local Realtor association.

“Combatting and overcoming bigotry and injustice starts with each of us,” said NAR President Vince Malta. “Realtors [on Friday] took tangible steps to ensure we are held to the highest possible standard while providing a mechanism of enforcement for those who violate our new policies.”

The New York State Association of Realtors President Jennifer Stevenson is also on the board of directors for NAR. She said she voted in favor of the motion and applauds the board of directors for embracing that action.

“[For each Realtor] it means that we never take our hands off, no matter where we are, no matter what we do, we are always licensed and we are always a member of the National Association of Realtors,” Stevenson said. “Being a member is not a right, it’s a privilege, and with that privilege comes commitments, and some of that commitment is affirming our commitment to fair housing.”

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The motion, which was presented by NAR’s Professional Standards Committee, comes as NAR works to reaffirm its commitment to fair housing and position its members to lead America’s real estate industry in the fight against discrimination and inequality, the association said in a release.

“I was so proud of that moment when that passed the board of directors and I still get goosebumps with it and get a little teary-eyed with it because [fair housing for all] is something near and dear to my heart, and most Realtors’ hearts,” Stevenson said. “To see that we are avant-garde in our actions it just is very special to me and that’s why I’m so dedicated to my membership.”

In 2020 Realtors and real estate agents have gotten into trouble over personal social media posts and in-person interactions.

A RE/MAX agent in Denver was fired in August for removing Black Lives Matter signs from the yards of neighbors where she lives and sells homes, while a San Antonio Realtor was fired from Keller Williams in September for threatening to “hunt” Black Lives Matter protesters on a Facebook post.

“This successful, member-led expansion of our Code and its Standards of Practice resulted in necessary specificity as to our accountability for behavior both within and outside real estate transactions as it pertains to protected classes of those consumers,” said Cindi Bulla, current chairman of Texas Realtors. “We celebrate the process and its success, and congratulate NAR President Vince Malta and his team for this milestone.”

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