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About me / Code of Ethics

Tiny GardeningOriginally from Northeast Ohio, Michael Spirnak came to Key West in 1990 and immediately fell in love with the island he has called home for almost half of his life.

Along with his passion for Key West Real Estate, Michael’s other interests include traveling, theatre, architecture, interior design, cooking, gardening and entertaining family and friends.

Michael has worked in the Real Estate industry for over 16 years, and has been with Richard Padron and Associates for over 12 years. Michael is a Broker Associate and  has been on the Key West Association of Realtors Education Committee for the last 4 years. He is also a member of the Key West Golf Club Architectural Committee.  Owning a home in Old Town for eleven years, he now lives at the Key West Golf Club with his husband, Mark Englehart, and their little dog, Tiny.

Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
of the National Association of Realtors®
Effective January 1, 2016
Where the word Realtors® is used in this Code and Preamble, it shall be
deemed to include Realtor-Associate®s.

While the Code of Ethics establishes obligations that may be higher than
those mandated by law, in any instance where the Code of Ethics and the
law conflict, the obligations of the law must take precedence
.

Preamble

Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership
depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.
Realtors® should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens
require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of
land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building
of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms,
and the preservation of a healthful environment.
Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce.
They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which
Realtors® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be
diligent in preparing themselves. Realtors®, therefore, are zealous to
maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their
fellow Realtors® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor.
In recognition and appreciation of their obligations to clients, customers,
the public, and each other, Realtors® continuously strive to become and
remain informed on issues affecting real estate and, as knowledgeable
professionals, they willingly share the fruit of their experience and study with
others. They identify and take steps, through enforcement of this Code of
Ethics and by assisting appropriate regulatory bodies, to eliminate practices
which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to
the real estate profession. Realtors® having direct personal knowledge of
conduct that may violate the Code of Ethics involving misappropriation of
client or customer funds or property, willful discrimination, or fraud resulting
in substantial economic harm, bring such matters to the attention of the
appropriate Board or Association of Realtors®. (Amended 1/00)
Realizing that cooperation with other real estate professionals promotes the
best interests of those who utilize their services, Realtors® urge exclusive
representation of clients; do not attempt to gain any unfair advantage over
their competitors; and they refrain from making unsolicited comments about
other practitioners. In instances where their opinion is sought, or where
Realtors® believe that comment is necessary, their opinion is offered in an
objective, professional manner, uninfluenced by any personal motivation or
potential advantage or gain.
The term Realtor® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high
integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in
business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients
ever can justify departure from this ideal.
In the interpretation of this obligation, Realtors® can take no safer guide
than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied
in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you,
do ye even so to them.”
Accepting this standard as their own, Realtors® pledge to observe its spirit
in all of their activities whether conducted personally, through associates
or others, or via technological means, and to conduct their business in
accordance with the tenets set forth below. (Amended 1/07)
Duties to Clients and Customers
Article 1
When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an
agent, Realtors® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests
of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve
Realtors® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving
a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-
agency capacity,
Realtors® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly. (Amended 1/01)
• Standard of Practice 1-1
Realtors®, when acting as principals in a real estate transaction, remain
obligated by the duties imposed by the Code of Ethics. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 1-2
The duties imposed by the Code of Ethics encompass all real
estate-related activities and transactions whether conducted in person,
electronically, or through any other means.
The duties the Code of Ethics imposes are applicable whether Realtors®
are acting as agents or in legally recognized non-agency capacities
except that any duty imposed exclusively on agents by law or regulation
shall not be imposed by this Code of Ethics on Realtors® acting in
non-agency capacities.
As used in this Code of Ethics, “client” means the person(s) or entity(ies)
with whom a Realtor® or a Realtor®’s firm has an agency or legally
recognized non-agency relationship; “customer” means a party to a real
estate transaction who receives information, services, or benefits but has
no contractual relationship with the Realtor® or the Realtor®’s firm;
“prospect” means a purchaser, seller, tenant, or landlord who is not
subject to a representation relationship with the Realtor® or Realtor®’s
firm; “agent” means a real estate licensee (including brokers and sales
associates) acting in an agency relationship as defined by state law or
regulation; and “broker” means a real estate licensee (including brokers
and sales associates) acting as an agent or in a legally recognized
non-agency capacity. (Adopted 1/95, Amended 1/07)
• Standard of Practice 1-3
Realtors®, in attempting to secure a listing, shall not deliberately mislead
the owner as to market value.
• Standard of Practice 1-4
Realtors®, when seeking to become a buyer/tenant representative, shall
not mislead buyers or tenants as to savings or other benefits that might
be realized through use of the Realtor®’s services. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 1-5
Realtors® may represent the seller/landlord and buyer/tenant in the same transaction only after full disclosure to and with informed consent
of both parties. (Adopted 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 1-6
Realtors® shall submit offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly
as possible. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 1-7
When acting as listing brokers, Realtors® shall continue to submit to the
seller/landlord all offers and counter-offers until closing or execution of
a lease unless the seller/landlord has waived this obligation in writing.
Realtors® shall not be obligated to continue to market the property
after an offer has been accepted by the seller/landlord. Realtors® shall
recommend that sellers/landlords obtain the advice of legal counsel
prior to acceptance of a subsequent offer except where the acceptance
is contingent on the termination of the pre-existing purchase contract or
lease. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 1-8
Realtors®, acting as agents or brokers of buyers/tenants, shall submit to
buyers/tenants all offers and counter-offers until acceptance but have no
obligation to continue to show properties to their clients after an offer has
been accepted unless otherwise agreed in writing. Realtors®, acting as
agents or brokers of buyers/tenants, shall recommend that buyers/tenants
obtain the advice of legal counsel if there is a question as to whether a
pre-existing contract has been terminated. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/99)
• Standard of Practice 1-9
The obligation of Realtors® to preserve confidential information (as
defined by state law) provided by their clients in the course of any agency
relationship or non-agency relationship
recognized by law continues after
termination of agency relationships or any non-agency relationships
recognized by law. Realtors® shall not knowingly, during or following the
termination of professional relationships with their clients:
1) reveal confidential information of clients; or
2) use confidential information of clients to the disadvantage of clients; or
3) use confidential information of clients for the Realtor®’s advantage
or the advantage of third parties unless:
a) clients consent after full disclosure; or
b) Realtors® are required by court order; or
c) it is the intention of a client to commit a crime and the information
is necessary to prevent the crime; or
d) it is necessary to defend a Realtor® or the Realtor®’s employees or
associates against an accusation of wrongful conduct.
Information concerning latent material defects is not considered confidential
information under this Code of Ethics. (Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/01)
• Standard of Practice 1-10
Realtors® shall, consistent with the terms and conditions of their real
estate licensure and their property management agreement, competently
manage the property of clients with due regard for the rights, safety and
health of tenants and others lawfully on the premises. (Adopted 1/95,
Amended 1/00)
• Standard of Practice 1-11
Realtors® who are employed to maintain or manage a client’s property
shall exercise due diligence and make reasonable efforts to protect it
against reasonably foreseeable contingencies and losses. (Adopted 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 1-12
When entering into listing contracts, Realtors® must advise sellers/
landlords of:
1) the Realtor®’s company policies regarding cooperation and the
amount(s) of any compensation that will be offered to subagents,
buyer/tenant agents, and/or brokers acting in legally recognized
non-agency capacities;
2) the fact that buyer/tenant agents or brokers, even if compensated by
listing brokers, or by sellers/landlords may represent the interests of
buyers/tenants; and
3) any potential for listing brokers to act as disclosed dual agents, e.g.,
buyer/tenant agents. (Adopted 1/93, Renumbered
1/98, Amended 1/03)
• Standard of Practice 1-13
When entering into buyer/tenant agreements, Realtors® must advise
potential clients of:
1) the Realtor®’s company policies regarding cooperation;
2) the amount of compensation to be paid by the client;
3) the potential for additional or offsetting compensation from other
brokers, from the seller or landlord, or from other parties;
4) any potential for the buyer/tenant representative to act as a disclosed
dual agent, e.g., listing broker, subagent, landlord’s agent, etc., and
5) the possibility that sellers or sellers’ representatives may not
treat the existence, terms, or conditions of offers as confidential
unless confidentiality is required by law, regulation, or by any
confidentiality agreement between the parties. (Adopted 1/93,
Renumbered 1/98, Amended 1/06)
• Standard of Practice 1-14
Fees for preparing appraisals or other valuations shall not be contingent
upon the amount of the appraisal or valuation. (Adopted 1/02)
• Standard of Practice 1-15
Realtors®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers
shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the
property. Where disclosure is authorized, Realtors® shall also disclose,
if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another
licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker. (Adopted 1/03,
Amended 1/09)
• Standard of Practice 1-16
Realtors® shall not access or use, or permit or enable others to access or
use,listed
or managed property on terms or conditions other than those
authorized by the owner or seller. (Adopted 1/12)
Article 2
Realtors® shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment
of pertinent facts relating to the property or the transaction. Realtors®
shall not, however, be obligated to discover latent defects in the property,
to advise on matters outside the scope of their real estate license, or
to disclose facts which are confidential under the scope of agency or
non-
agency relationships as defined by state law. (Amended 1/00)
• Standard of Practice 2-1
Realtors® shall only be obligated to discover and disclose adverse factors
reasonably apparent to someone with expertise in those areas required
by their real estate licensing authority. Article 2 does not impose upon
the Realtor® the obligation of expertise in other professional or technical
disciplines. (Amended 1/96)
• Standard of Practice 2-2
(Renumbered as Standard of Practice 1-12 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 2-3
(Renumbered as Standard of Practice 1-13 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 2-4
Realtors® shall not be parties to the naming of a false consideration
in any document, unless it be the naming of an obviously nominal Article 3
Realtors® shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is
not in the client’s best interest. The obligation to cooperate does not include
the obligation to share commissions, fees, or to otherwise compensate
another broker. (Amended 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 3-1
Realtors®, acting as exclusive agents or brokers of sellers/ landlords,
establish the terms and conditions of offers to cooperate. Unless
expressly indicated in offers to cooperate, cooperating brokers may not
assume that the offer of cooperation includes an offer of compensation.
Terms of compensation, if any, shall be ascertained by cooperating
brokers before beginning efforts to accept the offer of cooperation.
(Amended 1/99)
• Standard of Practice 3-2
Any change in compensation offered for cooperative services must be
communicated to the other Realtor® prior to the time that Realtor®
submits an offer to purchase/lease the property. After a Realtor® has
submitted an offer to purchase or lease property, the listing broker may
not attempt to unilaterally modify the offered compensation with respect
to that cooperative transaction. (Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 3-3
Standard of Practice 3-2 does not preclude the listing broker and
cooperating broker from entering into an agreement to change
cooperative compensation. (Adopted 1/94)
• Standard of Practice 3-4
Realtors®, acting as listing brokers, have an affirmative obligation to
disclose the existence of dual or variable rate commission arrangements
(i.e., listings where one amount of commission is payable if the listing
broker’s firm is the procuring cause of sale/lease and a different amount
of commission is payable if the sale/lease results through the efforts of
the seller/landlord or a cooperating broker). The listing broker shall, as
soon as practical, disclose the existence of such arrangements to potential
cooperating brokers and shall, in response to inquiries from cooperating
brokers, disclose the differential that would result in a cooperative
transaction or in a sale/lease that results through the efforts of the seller/
landlord. If the cooperating broker is a buyer/tenant representative, the
buyer/tenant representative must disclose such information to their client
before the client makes an offer to purchase or lease. (Amended 1/02)
• Standard of Practice 3-5
It is the obligation of subagents to promptly disclose all pertinent facts
to the principal’s agent prior to as well as after a purchase or lease
agreement is executed. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 3-6
Realtors® shall disclose the existence of accepted offers, including
offers with unresolved contingencies, to any broker seeking cooperation.
(Adopted 5/86, Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 3-7
When seeking information from another Realtor® concerning property
under a management or listing agreement, Realtors® shall disclose
their Realtor® status and whether their interest is personal or on behalf
of a client and, if on behalf of a client, their relationship with the client.
(Amended 1/11)
• Standard of Practice 3-8
Realtors® shall not misrepresent the availability of access to show or
inspect a listed property. (Amended 11/87)
• Standard of Practice 3-9
Realtors® shall not provide access to listed property on terms
other than those established by the owner or the listing broker.
(Adopted 1/10)
• Standard of Practice 3-10
The duty to cooperate established in Article 3 relates to the obligation to
share information on listed property, and to make property available to
other brokers for showing to prospective purchasers/tenants when it is
in the best interests of sellers/landlords. (Adopted 1/11)
Article 4
Realtors® shall not acquire an interest in or buy or present offers from
themselves, any member of their immediate families, their firms or any
member thereof, or any entities in which they have any ownership interest,
any real property without making their true position known to the owner or
the owner’s agent or broker. In selling property they own, or in which they
have any interest, Realtors® shall reveal their ownership or interest in
writing to the purchaser or the purchaser’s representative. (Amended 1/00)
• Standard of Practice 4-1
For the protection of all parties, the disclosures required by Article 4
shall be in writing and provided by Realtors® prior to the signing of any
contract. (Adopted 2/86)
Article 5
Realtors® shall not undertake to provide professional services concerning
a property or its value where they have a present or contemplated interest
unless such interest is specifically disclosed to all affected parties.
Article 6
Realtors® shall not accept any commission, rebate, or profit
on expenditures made for their client, without the client’s knowledge and
consent.
When recommending real estate products or services (e.g., homeowner’s
insurance, warranty programs, mortgage financing, title insurance,
etc.), Realtors® shall disclose to the client or customer to whom the
recommendation is made any financial benefits or fees, other than real
estate referral fees, the Realtor® or Realtor®’s firm may receive as a
direct result of such recommendation. (Amended 1/99)
• Standard of Practice 6-1
Realtors® shall not recommend or suggest to a client or a customer the
use of services of another organization or business entity in which they
have a direct interest without disclosing such interest at the time of the
recommendation or suggestion. (Amended 5/88)
Article 7
In a transaction, Realtors® shall not accept compensation from more than
one party, even if permitted by law, without disclosure to all parties and the
informed consent of the Realtor®’s client or clients. (Amended 1/93)
Article 8
Realtors® shall keep in a special account in an appropriate financial
institution, separated from their own funds, monies coming into their
possession in trust for other persons, such as escrows, trust funds, clients’
monies, and other like items.
Article 9
Realtors®, for the protection of all parties, shall assure whenever possible
that all agreements related to real estate transactions including, but not
limited to, listing and representation agreements, purchase contracts, and
leases are in writing in clear and understandable language expressing the
specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A
copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party to such agreements
upon their signing or initialing. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 9-1
For the protection of all parties, Realtors® shall use reasonable care
to ensure that documents pertaining to the purchase, sale, or lease of
real estate are kept current through the use of written extensions or
amendments. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 9-2
When assisting or enabling a client or customer in establishing a
contractual relationship (e.g., listing and representation agreements,
purchase agreements, leases, etc.) electronically, Realtors® shall make
reasonable efforts to explain the nature and disclose the specific terms
of the contractual relationship being established prior to it being agreed
to by a contracting party. (Adopted 1/07)
Duties to the Public
Article 10
Realtors® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for
reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national
origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Realtors® shall not be parties
to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on
the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national
origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)
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, sexual
orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 10-1
When involved in the sale or lease of a residence, Realtors®
shall not volunteer information regarding the racial, religious
or ethnic composition of any neighborhood nor shall they engage in
any activity which may result in panic selling, however, Realtors® may
provide other demographic information. (Adopted 1/94, Amended 1/06)
• Standard of Practice 10-2
When not involved in the sale or lease of a residence, Realtors® may
provide demographic information related to a property, transaction
or
professional assignment to a party if such demographic
information
is (a) deemed by the Realtor® to be needed
to assist with or
complete, in a manner consistent
with Article 10, a real estate
transaction or professional
assignment and (b) is obtained or derived
from a recognized, reliable, independent,
and impartial source. The
source of such information
and any additions,
deletions, modifications,
interpretations,
or other changes shall be disclosed
in reasonable detail.
(Adopted 1/05, Renumbered 1/06)
• Standard of Practice 10-3
Realtors® shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement
with respect to selling or renting of a property
that indicates
any preference, limitations or discrimination
based on race, color,
religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation,
or gender identity. (Adopted 1/94, Renumbered 1/05 and 1/06,
Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 10-4
As used in Article 10 “real estate employment practices” relates to
employees and independent contractors providing real estate-related
services and the administrative and clerical staff directly supporting those
individuals. (Adopted 1/00, Renumbered 1/05 and 1/06)
Article 11
The services which Realtors® provide to their clients and customers
shall conform to the standards of practice and competence which are
reasonably expected in the specific real estate disciplines in which
they engage; specifically, residential real estate brokerage, real property
management, commercial and industrial real estate brokerage, land
brokerage, real estate appraisal, real estate counseling, real estate
syndication, real estate auction, and international real estate.
Realtors® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services
concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of
competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent
on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed
to the client. Any persons engaged to provide such assistance shall be so
identified to the client and their contribution to the assignment should be
set forth. (Amended 1/10)
• Standard of Practice 11-1
When Realtors® prepare opinions of real property value or price they must:
1) be knowledgeable about the type of property being valued,
2) have access to the information and resources necessary to formulate
an accurate opinion, and
3) be familiar with the area where the subject property is located
unless lack of any of these is disclosed to the party requesting the opinion
in advance.
When an opinion of value or price is prepared other than in pursuit of a
listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer, the
opinion shall include the following unless the party requesting the opinion
requires a specific type of report or different data set:
1) identification of the subject property
2) date prepared
3) defined value or price
4) limiting conditions, including statements of purpose(s) and intended
user(s)
5) any present or contemplated interest, including the possibility of
representing the seller/landlord or buyers/tenants
6) basis for the opinion, including applicable market data
7) if the opinion is not an appraisal, a statement to that effect
8) disclosure of whether and when a physical inspection of the property’s
exterior was conducted
9) disclosure of whether and when a physical inspection of the property’s
interior was conducted
10) disclosure of whether the Realtor® has any conflicts of interest
(Amended 1/14)
• Standard of Practice 11-2
The obligations of the Code of Ethics in respect of real estate disciplines
other than appraisal shall be interpreted and applied in accordance with
the standards of competence and practice which clients and the public
reasonably require to protect their rights and interests considering the
complexity of the transaction, the availability of expert assistance, and,
where the Realtor® is an agent or subagent, the obligations of a fiduciary.
(Adopted 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 11-3
When Realtors® provide consultive services to clients which involve
advice or counsel for a fee (not a commission), such advice shall be
rendered in an objective manner and the fee shall not be contingent on
the substance of the advice or counsel given. If brokerage or transaction
services are to be provided in addition to consultive services, a separate
compensation may be paid with prior agreement between the client and
Realtor®. (Adopted 1/96)
• Standard of Practice 11-4
The competency required by Article 11 relates to services contracted for
between Realtors® and their clients or customers; the duties expressly imposed by the Code of Ethics; and the duties imposed by law or
regulation. (Adopted 1/02)
Article 12
Realtors® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications
and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other
representations. Realtors® shall ensure that their status as real estate
professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing, and other
representations, and that the recipients of all real estate communications
are, or have been, notified that those communications are from a real estate
professional. (Amended 1/08)
• Standard of Practice 12-1
Realtors® may use the term “free” and similar terms in their advertising
and in other representations provided that all terms governing availability
of the offered product or service are clearly disclosed at the same time.
(Amended 1/97)
• Standard of Practice 12-2
Realtors® may represent their services as “free” or without cost even if
they expect to receive compensation from a source other than their client
provided that the potential for the Realtor® to obtain a benefit from a third
party is clearly disclosed at the same time. (Amended 1/97)
• Standard of Practice 12-3
The offering of premiums, prizes, merchandise discounts or other
inducements to list, sell, purchase, or lease is not, in itself, unethical
even if receipt of the benefit is contingent on listing, selling, purchasing,
or leasing through the Realtor® making the offer. However, Realtors®
must exercise care and candor in any such advertising or other public
or private representations so that any party interested in receiving or
otherwise benefiting from the Realtor®’s offer will have clear, thorough,
advance understanding of all the terms and conditions of the offer. The
offering of any inducements to do business is subject to the limitations
and restrictions of state law and the ethical obligations established by
any applicable Standard of Practice. (Amended 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 12-4
Realtors® shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without
authority. When acting as listing brokers or as subagents, Realtors®
shall not quote a price different from that agreed upon with the seller/
landlord. (Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 12-5
Realtors® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or
affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property
in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without
disclosing the name of that Realtor®’s firm in a reasonable and readily
apparent manner either in the advertisement or in electronic advertising
via a link to a display with all required disclosures. (Adopted 11/86,
Amended 1/16)
• Standard of Practice 12-6
Realtors®, when advertising unlisted real property for sale/lease in
which they have an ownership interest, shall disclose their status as
both owners/landlords and as Realtors® or real estate licensees.
(Amended 1/93)
• Standard of Practice 12-7
Only Realtors® who participated in the transaction as the listing broker or
cooperating broker (selling broker) may claim to have “sold” the property.
Prior to closing, a cooperating broker may post a “sold” sign only with
the consent of the listing broker. (Amended 1/96)
• Standard of Practice 12-8
The obligation to present a true picture in representations to the public
includes information presented, provided, or displayed on Realtors®’
websites. Realtors® shall use reasonable efforts to ensure that
information on their websites is current. When it becomes apparent that
information on a Realtor®’s website is no longer current or accurate,
Realtors® shall promptly take corrective action. (Adopted 1/07)
• Standard of Practice 12-9
Realtor® firm websites shall disclose the firm’s name and state(s) of
licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.
Websites of Realtors® and non-member licensees affiliated with a
Realtor® firm shall disclose the firm’s name and that Realtor®’s or
non-member licensee’s state(s) of licensure in a reasonable and readily
apparent manner. (Adopted 1/07)
• Standard of Practice 12-10
Realtors®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and
representations to the public includes Internet content posted, and the URLs
and domain names they use, and prohibits Realtors® from:
1) engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage
websites;
2) manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing
and other content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading
result;
3) deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to
direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic; or
4) presenting content developed by others without either attribution or
without permission, or
5) to otherwise mislead consumers. (Adopted 1/07, Amended 1/13)
• Standard of Practice 12-11
Realtors® intending to share or sell consumer information gathered via
the Internet shall disclose that possibility in a reasonable and readily
apparent manner. (Adopted 1/07)
• Standard of Practice 12-12
Realtors® shall not:
1) use URLs or domain names that present less than a true picture, or
2) register URLs or domain names which, if used, would present less
than a true picture. (Adopted 1/08)
• Standard of Practice 12-13
The obligation to present a true picture in advertising, marketing, and
representations allows Realtors® to use and display only professional
designations, certifications, and other credentials to which they are
legitimately entitled. (Adopted 1/08)
Article 13
Realtors® shall not engage in activities that constitute the unauthorized
practice of law and shall recommend that legal counsel be obtained when
the interest of any party to the transaction requires it.
Article 14
If charged with unethical practice or asked to present evidence or to
cooperate in any other way, in any professional standards proceeding or
investigation, Realtors® shall place all pertinent facts before the proper
tribunals of the Member Board or affiliated institute, society, or council in
which membership is held and shall take no action to disrupt or obstruct
such processes. (Amended 1/99)
• Standard of Practice 14-1
Realtors® shall not be subject to disciplinary proceedings in
more than one Board of Realtors® or affiliated institute, society,
or council in which they hold membership with respect to alleged
violations of the Code of Ethics relating to the same transaction
or event. (Amended 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 14-2
Realtors® shall not make any unauthorized disclosure or dissemination
of the allegations, findings, or decision developed in connection with an
ethics hearing or appeal or in connection with an arbitration hearing or
procedural review. (Amended 1/92)
• Standard of Practice 14-3
Realtors® shall not obstruct the Board’s investigative or professional
standards proceedings by instituting or threatening to institute actions for
libel, slander, or defamation against any party to a professional standards
proceeding or their witnesses based on the filing of an arbitration request,
an ethics complaint, or testimony given before any tribunal. (Adopted
11/87, Amended 1/99)
• Standard of Practice 14-4
Realtors® shall not intentionally impede the Board’s investigative or
disciplinary proceedings by filing multiple ethics complaints based on
the same event or transaction. (Adopted 11/88)
Duties to Realtors®
Article 15
Realtors® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading
statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or
their business practices. (Amended 1/12)
• Standard of Practice 15-1
Realtors® shall not knowingly or recklessly file false or unfounded
ethics complaints. (Adopted 1/00)
• Standard of Practice 15-2
The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements
about other real estate professionals, their businesses, and their
business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly
publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements
made by others. This duty applies whether false or misleading
statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means
(e.g., the Internet), or by any other means. (Adopted 1/07, Amended
1/12)
• Standard of Practice 15-3
The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements
about other real estate professionals, their businesses, and their
business practices includes the duty to publish a clarification about or
to remove statements made by others on electronic media the Realtor®
controls once the Realtor® knows the statement is false or misleading.
(Adopted 1/10, Amended 1/12)
Article 16
Realtors® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent
with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements
that other Realtors® have with clients. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-1
Article 16 is not intended to prohibit aggressive or innovative
business practices which are otherwise ethical and does not prohibit
disagreements with other Realtors® involving commission, fees,
compensation or other forms of payment or expenses. (Adopted 1/93,
Amended 1/95)
• Standard of Practice 16-2
Article 16 does not preclude Realtors® from making general announcements
to prospects describing their services and the terms of their availability even
though some recipients may have entered into agency agreements or
other exclusive relationships with another Realtor®. A general telephone
canvass, general mailing or distribution addressed to all prospects in a given
geographical area or in a given profession, business, club, or organization,
or other classification or group is deemed “general” for purposes of this
standard. (Amended 1/04)
Article 16 is intended to recognize as unethical two basic types
of solicitations:
First, telephone or personal solicitations of property owners who have
been identified by a real estate sign, multiple listing compilation, or
other information service as having exclusively listed their property
with another Realtor® and
Second, mail or other forms of written solicitations of prospects
whose properties are exclusively listed with another Realtor® when
such solicitations are not part of a general mailing but are directed
specifically to property owners identified through compilations of
current listings, “for sale” or “for rent” signs, or other sources of
information required by Article 3 and Multiple Listing Service rules to
be made available to other Realtors® under offers of subagency or
cooperation. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-3
Article 16 does not preclude Realtors® from contacting the client of
another broker for the purpose of offering to provide, or entering into a
contract to provide, a different type of real estate service unrelated to
the type of service currently being provided (e.g., property management
as opposed to brokerage) or from offering the same type of service for
property not subject to other brokers’ exclusive agreements. However,
information received through a Multiple Listing Service or any other offer
of cooperation may not be used to target clients of other Realtors® to
whom such offers to provide services may be made. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-4
Realtors® shall not solicit a listing which is currently listed exclusively
with another broker. However, if the listing broker, when asked by
the Realtor®, refuses to disclose the expiration date and nature
of such listing, i.e., an exclusive right to sell, an exclusive agency,
open listing, or other form of contractual agreement between the
listing broker and the client, the Realtor® may contact the owner to
secure such information and may discuss the terms upon which the
Realtor® might take a future listing or, alternatively, may take a listing
to become effective upon expiration of any existing exclusive listing.
(Amended 1/94)
• Standard of Practice 16-5
Realtors® shall not solicit buyer/tenant agreements from buyers/
tenants who are subject to exclusive buyer/tenant agreements.
However, if asked by a Realtor®, the broker refuses to disclose the
expiration date of the exclusive buyer/tenant agreement, the Realtor®
may contact the buyer/tenant to secure such information and may
discuss the terms upon which the Realtor® might enter into a future
buyer/tenant agreement or, alternatively, may enter into a buyer/tenant
agreement to become effective upon the expiration of any existing
exclusive buyer/tenant agreement. (Adopted 1/94, Amended 1/98
• Standard of Practice 16-6
When Realtors® are contacted by the client of another Realtor® regarding
the creation of an exclusive relationship to provide the same type of service,
and Realtors® have not directly or indirectly initiated such discussions, they
may discuss the terms upon which they might enter into a future agreement
or, alternatively, may enter into an agreement which becomes effective upon
expiration of any existing exclusive agreement. (Amended 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 16-7
The fact that a prospect has retained a Realtor® as an exclusive
representative or exclusive broker in one or more past transactions
does not preclude other Realtors® from seeking such prospect’s future
business. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-8
The fact that an exclusive agreement has been entered into with a
Realtor® shall not preclude or inhibit any other Realtor® from entering
into a similar agreement after the expiration of the prior agreement.
(Amended 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 16-9
Realtors®, prior to entering into a representation agreement, have an
affirmative obligation to make reasonable efforts to determine whether
the prospect is subject to a current, valid exclusive agreement to provide
the same type of real estate service. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-10
Realtors®, acting as buyer or tenant representatives or brokers, shall
disclose that relationship to the seller/landlord’s representative or broker
at first contact and shall provide written confirmation of that disclosure
to the seller/landlord’s representative or broker not later than execution
of a purchase agreement or lease. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-11
On unlisted property, Realtors® acting as buyer/tenant representatives
or brokers shall disclose that relationship to the seller/landlord at first
contact for that buyer/tenant and shall provide written confirmation of such
disclosure to the seller/landlord not later than execution of any purchase
or lease agreement. (Amended 1/04)
Realtors® shall make any request for anticipated compensation from the
seller/landlord at first contact. (Amended 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 16-12
Realtors®, acting as representatives or brokers of sellers/landlords or
as subagents of listing brokers, shall disclose that relationship to buyers/
tenants as soon as practicable and shall provide written confirmation
of such disclosure to buyers/tenants not later than execution of any
purchase or lease agreement. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-13
All dealings concerning property exclusively listed, or with buyer/tenants
who are subject to an exclusive agreement shall be carried on with the
client’s representative or broker, and not with the client, except with the
consent of the client’s representative or broker or except where such
dealings are initiated by the client.
Before providing substantive services (such as writing a purchase offer
or presenting a CMA) to prospects, Realtors® shall ask prospects
whether they are a party to any exclusive representation agreement.
Realtors® shall not knowingly provide substantive services concerning
a prospective transaction to prospects who are parties to exclusive
representation agreements, except with the consent of the prospects’
exclusive representatives or at the direction of prospects. (Adopted 1/93,
Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-14
Realtors® are free to enter into contractual relationships or to negotiate
with sellers/landlords, buyers/tenants or others who are not subject to an
exclusive agreement but shall not knowingly obligate them to pay more
than one commission except with their informed consent. (Amended 1/98)
• Standard of Practice 16-15
In cooperative transactions Realtors® shall compensate cooperating
Realtors® (principal brokers) and shall not compensate nor offer
to compensate, directly or indirectly, any of the sales licensees employed
by or affiliated with other Realtors® without the prior express knowledge
and consent of the cooperating broker.
• Standard of Practice 16-16
Realtors®, acting as subagents or buyer/tenant representatives or brokers,
shall not use the terms of an offer to purchase/lease to attempt to modify
the listing broker’s offer of compensation to subagents or buyer/tenant
representatives or brokers nor make the submission of an executed offer
to purchase/lease contingent on the listing broker’s agreement to modify
the offer of compensation. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-17
Realtors®, acting as subagents or as buyer/tenant representatives or
brokers, shall not attempt to extend a listing broker’s offer of cooperation
and/or compensation to other brokers without the consent of the listing
broker. (Amended 1/04)
• Standard of Practice 16-18
Realtors® shall not use information obtained from listing brokers through
offers to cooperate made through multiple listing services or through other
offers of cooperation to refer listing brokers’ clients to other brokers or to
create buyer/tenant relationships with listing brokers’ clients, unless such
use is authorized by listing brokers. (Amended 1/02)
• Standard of Practice 16-19
Signs giving notice of property for sale, rent, lease, or exchange shall not
be placed on property without consent of the seller/landlord. (Amended
1/93)
• Standard of Practice 16-20
Realtors®, prior to or after their relationship with their current firm
is terminated, shall not induce clients of their current firm to cancel
exclusive contractual agreements between the client and that firm.
This does not preclude Realtors® (principals) from establishing
agreements with their associated licensees governing assignability
of exclusive agreements. (Adopted 1/98, Amended 1/10)
Article 17
In the event of contractual disputes or specific non-contractual disputes
as defined in Standard of Practice 17-4 between Realtors® (principals)
associated with different firms, arising out of their relationship as Realtors®,
the Realtors® shall mediate the dispute if the Board requires its members to
mediate. If the dispute is not resolved through mediation, or if mediation is
not required, Realtors® shall submit the dispute to arbitration in accordance
with the policies of the Board rather than litigate the matter.
In the event clients of Realtors® wish to mediate or arbitrate contractual
disputes arising out of real estate transactions, Realtors® shall mediate
or arbitrate those disputes in accordance with the policies of the Board,
provided the clients agree to be bound by any resulting agreement or
award.
The obligation to participate in mediation and arbitration contemplated by
this Article includes the obligation of Realtors® (principals) to cause their
firms to mediate and arbitrate and be bound by any resulting agreement or award. (Amended 1/12)
• Standard of Practice 17-1
The filing of litigation and refusal to withdraw from it by Realtors® in an
arbitrable matter constitutes a refusal to arbitrate. (Adopted 2/86)
• Standard of Practice 17-2
Article 17 does not require Realtors® to mediate in those circumstances
when all parties to the dispute advise the Board in writing that they
choose not to mediate through the Board’s facilities. The fact that all
parties decline to participate in mediation does not relieve Realtors®
of the duty to arbitrate.
Article 17 does not require Realtors® to arbitrate in those circumstances
when all parties to the dispute advise the Board in writing that they choose
not to arbitrate before the Board. (Amended 1/12)
• Standard of Practice 17-3
Realtors®, when acting solely as principals in a real estate transaction, are
not obligated to arbitrate disputes with other Realtors® absent a specific
written agreement to the contrary. (Adopted 1/96)
• Standard of Practice 17-4
Specific non-contractual disputes that are subject to arbitration pursuant
to Article 17 are:
1) Where a listing broker has compensated a cooperating broker
and another cooperating broker subsequently claims to be the
procuring cause of the sale or lease. In such cases the complainant
may name the first cooperating broker as respondent and arbitration
may proceed without the listing broker being named as a respondent.
When arbitration occurs between two (or more) cooperating brokers
and where the listing broker is not a party, the amount in dispute and
the amount of any potential resulting award is limited to the amount
paid to the respondent by the listing broker and any amount credited
or paid to a party to the transaction at the direction of the respondent.
Alternatively, if the complaint is brought against the listing broker, the
listing broker may name the first cooperating broker as a third-party
respondent. In either instance the decision of the hearing panel as
to procuring cause shall be conclusive with respect to all current or
subsequent claims of the parties for compensation arising out of the
underlying cooperative transaction. (Adopted 1/97, Amended 1/07)
2) Where a buyer or tenant representative is compensated by the seller
or landlord, and not by the listing broker, and the listing broker, as a
result, reduces the commission owed by the seller or landlord and,
subsequent to such actions, another cooperating broker claims to be
the procuring cause of sale or lease. In such cases the complainant
may name the first cooperating broker as respondent and arbitration
may proceed without the listing broker being named as a respondent.
When arbitration occurs between two (or more) cooperating brokers
and where the listing broker is not a party, the amount in dispute and
the amount of any potential resulting award is limited to the amount paid
to the respondent by the seller or landlord and any amount credited
or paid to a party to the transaction at the direction of the respondent.
Alternatively, if the complaint is brought against the listing broker, the
listing broker may name the first cooperating broker as a third-party
respondent. In either instance the decision of the hearing panel as
to procuring cause shall be conclusive with respect to all current or
subsequent claims of the parties for compensation arising out of the
underlying cooperative transaction. (Adopted 1/97, Amended 1/07)
3) Where a buyer or tenant representative is compensated by the buyer
or tenant and, as a result, the listing broker reduces the commission
owed by the seller or landlord and, subsequent to such actions,
another cooperating broker claims to be the procuring cause of sale or
lease. In such cases the complainant may name the first cooperating
broker as respondent and arbitration may proceed without the listing
broker being named as a respondent. Alternatively, if the complaint
is brought against the listing broker, the listing broker may name
the first cooperating broker as a third-party respondent. In either
instance the decision of the hearing panel as to procuring cause shall
be conclusive with respect to all current or subsequent claims of the
parties for compensation arising out of the underlying cooperative
transaction. (Adopted 1/97)
4) Where two or more listing brokers claim entitlement to compensation
pursuant to open listings with a seller or landlord who agrees to
participate in arbitration (or who requests arbitration) and who
agrees to be bound by the decision. In cases where one of the
listing brokers has been compensated by the seller or landlord, the
other listing broker, as complainant, may name the first listing broker
as respondent and arbitration may proceed between the brokers.
(Adopted 1/97)
5) Where a buyer or tenant representative is compensated by the seller
or landlord, and not by the listing broker, and the listing broker, as a
result, reduces the commission owed by the seller or landlord and,
subsequent to such actions, claims to be the procuring cause of sale
or lease. In such cases arbitration shall be between the listing broker
and the buyer or tenant representative and the amount in dispute is
limited to the amount of the reduction of commission to which the listing
broker agreed. (Adopted 1/05)
• Standard of Practice 17-5
The obligation to arbitrate established in Article 17 includes disputes
between Realtors® (principals) in different states in instances where,
absent an established inter-association arbitration agreement, the
Realtor® (principal) requesting arbitration agrees to submit to the
jurisdiction of, travel to, participate in, and be bound by any resulting
award rendered in arbitration conducted by the respondent(s) Realtor®’s
association, in instances where the respondent(s) Realtor®’s association
determines that an arbitrable issue exists. (Adopted 1/07)
Explanatory Notes
The reader should be aware of the following policies which have been
approved by the Board of Directors of the National Association:
In filing a charge of an alleged violation of the Code of Ethics by a Realtor®,
the charge must read as an alleged violation of one or more Articles of
the Code. Standards of Practice may be cited in support of the charge.
The Standards of Practice serve to clarify the ethical obligations imposed
by the various Articles and supplement, and do not substitute for, the Case
Interpretations in Interpretations of the Code of Ethics.
Modifications to existing Standards of Practice and additional new
Standards of Practice are approved from time to time. Readers are
cautioned to ensure that the most recent publications are utilized.
© 2016 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®166-
288-16 (01/16 JB