The professional standard that sets REALTORS® apart from other real estate practitioners is their acceptance and adherence to the Code of Ethics. The Code has been revised many times through the years to reflect current developments in professional real estate practice. But even with the best of intentions, planning and preparation, occasional disagreements arise between REALTORS® and/or between REALTORS® and their clients or customers. As civil litigation becomes increasingly costly, time consuming, and burdensome, there has been a trend among private parties to settle disputes and conflicting claims through alternative means.
Beyond the Code: Professional Courtesies Among REALTORS®
Pathways to Professionalism
At the 1998 Annual Convention, the Professional Standards Committee approved a list of professional courtesies, entitled "Pathways to Professionalism", which may be adopted on a voluntary basis by REALTORS® and which cannot be used as the basis for a professional standards complaint. These professional courtesies may be supplemented locally based on custom and practice.
(Note: While the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association establishes objective, enforceable ethical standards governing the professional conduct of REALTORS®, it does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette. Based on input from many sources, the Professional Conduct Working Group of the Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for use by REALTORS® on a voluntary basis. This list is not all-inclusive, and may be supplemented by local custom and practice.)
I. Respect for the Public
1. Always follow the "Golden Rule".
2. Always respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
3. Schedule appointments as far in advance as possible; call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment.
4. Always schedule property showings in advance.
5. If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the owner.
6. Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
7. Enter listed property first to ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
8. Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules.
9. Never criticize property in the presence of the owner.
10. Inform sellers that you are leaving after a showing.
11. When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock before entering. Knock before entering any closed room.
12. Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and have a clean car.
13. If the seller is home during a showing, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
14. Advise the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
15. Communicate clearly; don't use jargon not readily understood by the general public.
16. Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
17. Show courtesy and respect to the general public.
18. Be aware of and meet all deadlines.
19. Promise only what you can deliver and keep your promises.
II. Respect for Property
1. Be responsible for visitors to listed property; never allow buyers to enter property unaccompanied.
2. When the seller is absent, be sure to turn off lights, shut windows, and lock doors after a showing.
3. Tell buyers not to smoke in listed property.
4. Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property.
5. When a property is vacant, check that heating and cooling controls are set correctly and check the outside of the property for damage or vandalism.
III. Respect for Peers
1. Call the listing broker to report the results of any showing.
2. Notify the listing broker immediately if anything appears wrong with the property.
3. Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
4. Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
5. Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.