MLS & Associations

What makes an excellent Realtor? Check out NAR’s blueprint

'Commitment to Excellence' is not mandatory

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What are the hallmarks of an outstanding Realtor? The National Association of Realtors has come up with its own answer to that question.

In an effort to raise the bar of professionalism in the real estate industry, NAR’s nearly 850-member board of directors adopted a nonmandatory “Realtors Commitment to Excellence” on Saturday.

The statement, previously called the Code of Excellence, lays out 11 specific areas in which Realtors will strive for excellence, including the NAR Code of Ethics; understanding real estate laws and regulations; customer service; property rights advocacy; use of technology tools; and sharing accurate, current information to facilitate cooperation with consumers and other real estate professionals.

“The Code of Ethics … really lays out clearly what we should not do. The Code of Excellence lays out what we should do,” said NAR Immediate Past President Steven Brown last fall.

The Code of Excellence will “train the Realtor that they are not single-minded. That to be a good Realtor they must be community-involved, they must be politically aware and they must engage with the consumer in every facet of their community life.”

In a report commissioned by NAR and released last week, real estate consultant Stefan Swanepoel warned that the top danger facing the industry in the near term is that masses of “marginal” agents could destroy the industry’s reputation.

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“The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry,” he wrote.

The Commitment to Excellence is a “dynamic, living document that will be subject to ongoing review and enhancement” much like the Code of Ethics, according to NAR. For this reason, NAR’s board approved a Commitment to Excellence Advisory Board that will report to NAR’s Professional Standards Committee.

The advisory board will be responsible for further developing and maintaining the Commitment to Excellence program, including recommendations on education and training, said NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen today.

The program was originally envisioned with a biennial educational requirement for the nation’s 1 million Realtors, but it does not include such a requirement at this time, Wiskerchen said.

“The Commitment to Excellence document is entirely aspirational,” she said.

This means that “it is a model for conduct, it is a set of goals, but members could not be disciplined for failure to meet its goals.”

Members could not, for instance, be terminated for failing to advocate for property ownership rights, she said. But they could be disciplined if they deny equal professional services on the basis of race or sexual orientation because that conduct is prohibited under Article 10 of the Code of Ethics.

Any advisory board proposals regarding education or other components of the program would likely have to be approved by NAR’s Professional Standards Committee, Executive Committee, and board of directors, Wiskerchen said.

In the fall, Brown said the program’s training would cover issues such as consumer privacy protection, data accuracy, political advocacy, technology, professional courtesies and social media — all topics currently covered by NAR’s educational offerings, but that the trade group would like to offer in a concise educational program.

Currently, NAR’s only educational requirement is Code of Ethics training, which Realtors are required to complete every four years. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, all Realtors will have to complete Code of Ethics training every two years, following a NAR board decision in November 2014.

Here is the full text of the Realtors Commitment to Excellence as passed on Saturday:

I am a Realtor.

As a real estate professional, laws and regulations set the minimum standards I owe to my clients, customers and the public. In that regard, my duties are the same as other practitioners.

As a Realtor, I embrace and I am bound by the duties spelled out in the Realtors Code of Ethics. In addition to the duties owed to my clients and customers, to the public and to other Realtors, I strive for the aspirational goals of the Preamble, knowing that the term Realtor stands for competency, fairness and integrity.

I believe in the value of the land. I understand the importance of adequate housing, functioning, livable cities, productive industries and farms, and a healthful environment, and their role in nurturing a free society in the United States and internationally.

As a real estate professional, I may be required to meet ongoing education requirements to maintain a license, certification or designation. As a Realtor, I continuously enhance my grasp of issues affecting real estate, and I willingly share my experience and expertise with other professionals. My dedication to the satisfaction of my clients’ best interests is my primary goal.

Understanding that the pursuit of knowledge continues lifelong, as a Realtor I will strive to achieve excellence in the following competencies:

  • Being current and knowledgeable about the laws, regulations and legislation affecting the real estate disciplines I engage in, and about real estate in my community generally.
  • Understanding the Code of Ethics is a living document, and keeping myself informed about its duties and obligations on an ongoing basis.
  • Providing equal professional services to all consistent with Article 10 of the Code of Ethics.
  • Advocating for property ownership rights in my community, state and nation.
  • Acknowledging and valuing that honesty and integrity are fundamental and essential to Realtors being known as consumers’ trusted advisers.
  • Becoming and remaining proficient in the use of technology tools to provide the highest levels of service to clients, customers and the public, and facilitating cooperation by sharing accurate, current information with consumers and with other real estate professionals.
  • Keeping up-to-date on laws and regulations governing data privacy and data security, and taking necessary and appropriate steps to safeguard the privacy and integrity of information entrusted to me.
  • Committing myself to enhancing my knowledge and skills in the real estate areas of practice I engage in on an ongoing basis.
  • Providing superior customer service.
  • Appreciating that courtesy, timely communication and cooperation are fundamental to facilitating successful real estate transactions, and to building and maintaining an impeccable professional reputation.
  • As a broker-owner or principal of a real estate company, I am committed to creating and maintaining an environment that promotes excellent customer service consistent with these standards.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with further comments from NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen.