By the end of the year, all members of the National Association of Realtors must successfully complete a two-and-a-half-hour course in ethics, according to a NAR policy established in 2001.

The policy requires that Realtors take ethics training within given four-year cycles and continue to update their education in successive four-year periods thereafter. The first four-year cycle ends Dec. 31, 2004.

New members are to take ethics training upon becoming Realtors.

“The goal of the training is to ensure that new members are familiar with, and experienced members get a refresher course in, the Code of Ethics and its established principles. It also lets home buyers and sellers know they can rely on real estate professionals who are educated in and abide by a strict code of ethics,” said Walt McDonald, NAR president and broker-owner of Walt McDonald Real Estate, Riverside, Calif.

The ethics training tests Realtors on general business ethics, NAR Code of Ethics concepts, identifying code violations and enforcement of professional standards. The tests are conducted by local Realtor associations on their own or with other associations, and through other methods such as home study, correspondence and Internet-based courses.

Realtors who complete the training during a given four-year cycle are not required to complete further training during the same cycle, even if they join another association. New members who complete a Code of Ethics course upon being admitted to their local association do not have to complete additional training until the next four-year cycle. Failure to complete the ethics training is a violation of membership, and membership may be suspended until the training is completed.

The National Association of Realtors is a trade association representing more than 972,000 members involved in the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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