Consumer Protection

CODE OF ETHICS

When you are making the biggest purchase of your life, it helps to have a trusted professional on your side. A REALTOR® is more than a real estate agent; REALTORS® have training in ethics for both their dealings with the public and with the real estate community. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics guides REALTORS® and also shows the public the level of commitment, education and dedication to their profession that each member of NAR possesses.

In 2013, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics celebrated its 100th birthday. The market has changed a lot since 1913, and the code is a living, dynamic statement that has moved with the times, updating annually to guide Realtors in their daily professional lives.

The code now been translated into Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. What else has changed? Social media and the Web, of course.

But other core principles are longstanding and guarantee fair dealings with clients, the public, and other Realtors. For example, the code’s articles include:

    • 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 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, national origin, or sexual orientation.
    • Realtors paint a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.
    • Realtors make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.

In choosing a REALTOR®, home buyers are selecting a professional who voluntarily holds to a high ethical standard. Many Realtors proudly display cover photos that identify them as Realtors who live by the code.

FAIR HOUSING

The sale and purchase of a home is one of the most significant events any person will experience in their lifetime. It is more than the simple purchase of housing, for it includes the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and economic destiny of those involved.

The Law

Civil Rights Act of 1866 – The Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits all racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property.

Fair Housing ActThe Fair Housing Act declares a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Americans with Disabilities ActTitle III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accommodations and commercial facilities.

Equal Credit Opportunity ActThe Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes discrimination unlawful with respect to any aspect of a credit application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program.

State and Local LawsState and local laws often provide broader coverage and prohibit discrimination based on additional classes not covered by federal law.

The Responsibility

The home seller, the home buyer, and the real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law.

For the Home Seller – As a home seller or landlord you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. You cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as your agent to convey for you any limitations in the sale or rental because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate. Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental; deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

For the Home Buyer – You have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. This includes the right to expect:

  • Housing in your price range made available to you without discrimination.
  • Equal professional service.
  • The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices.
  • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing.
  • No discrimination in the financing, appraising, or insuring of housing.
  • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities.
  • Nondiscriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of a dwelling.
  • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights.

For the Real Estate Professional – Agents in a real estate transaction are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. A request from the home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in the sale, lease or rental cannot legally be fulfilled by the real estate professional.

The REALTOR® Fair Housing Program

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has developed a Fair Housing Program to provide resources and guidance to REALTORS® in ensuring equal professional services for all people. The term REALTOR® identifies a licensed professional in real estate who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Not all licensed real estate brokers and salespersons are members of the National Association, and only those who are may identify themselves as REALTORS®. They conduct their business and activities in accordance with a strict Code of Ethics.

Article 10 of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics provides that “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation. REALTORS® shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.”

A REALTOR® pledges to conduct business in keeping with the spirit and letter of the Code of Ethics. Article 10 imposes obligations upon REALTORS® and is also a firm statement of support for equal opportunity in housing.

If you suspect discrimination, call the REALTORS® Associationthe Nebraska REALTORS® Association (402.323.6500) will accept complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics filed by a home seeker who alleges discriminatory treatment in the availability, purchase or rental of housing. REALTORS® have a responsibility to enforce the Code of Ethics through professional standards procedures and corrective action in cases where a violation of the Code of Ethics is proven to have occurred.