The Illinois Association of Realtors will soon be the second state association to publish violations of the Realtor Code of Ethics in a members-only section of its website, but offenders will remain unnamed.
Last month, as part of a campaign to boost professionalism in the real estate industry, the California Association of Realtors began publishing the names and photos of members found to have violated the code in a part of its website available to members, but not the general public. The 160,000-member trade group said it hoped to educate members and “shine a light on the people that misbehave in our industry.”
Yesterday, the Illinois association’s board approved a measure to publish violations of the Realtor Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, but will not include the identifying information provided in California.
“We chose not to publish names because the association felt it was more important to use the program as an opportunity for education, and to show that if a complaint was filed it did not disappear and was handled,” said Illinois Association of Realtors spokesman Jon Broadbooks. “It is hoped that an ongoing program of education and awareness will be ultimately more effective than a public shaming.”
The emphasis on education rather than public shaming is also the reason why the trade group chose not to publish violations publicly, Broadbooks said.
Instead, the Illinois association will publish the article violated, a description of the violation, the findings returned by a hearing panel, and any disciplinary action taken in a password-protected area of its website, illinoisrealtor,org, and in Illinois Realtor magazine, which goes exclusively to the association’s 41,000 members. The association will begin publishing violations in January — covering the latter half of 2014 — and continue to do so on a semiannual basis, every January and July.
Broadbooks said the association hopes “that by publishing the violations and findings in a members-only format there will be a greater awareness of the standards of practice. If there is a deeper understanding of professional standards, it stands to reason that there will be fewer complaints and even better service for clients.”
The association’s board also approved an ethics citation program that will allow members to file complaints anonymously. A citation panel will review the case and, if warranted, the panel will issue a citation along with a set fine. Members issued citations will have the option of pleading their case before a hearing panel. Disciplinary actions can include educational requirements and fines from $100 to $15,000.
The Illinois Association of Realtors plans to revamp its website to create a one-stop education toolkit for brokers with video training resources, slide presentations and handout materials on specific topics, Broadbooks said.