CCAR The Voice of Clark County Real Estate: REALTOR Professional Standards

Posted June 23, 2019 in Special Features

Rian Davis, Clark County WA real estate agent

REALTOR Professional Standards

Oftentimes I’m asked what the difference is between a REALTOR and a licensed real estate agent. While all REALTORS are licensed agents, not all licensed agents are REALTORS. One of the defining differences that separates the two is the REALTOR Code of Ethics. These are a set of standards and expectations for all members that focus on dealing with their fellow members, as well as the public, to ensure that professionalism is held to a high standard. When working with a REALTOR, you can be assured of fair dealings and a subscription to a higher level of professionalism above and beyond what is required by state licensing requirements.

The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are over 100 years old, and have been thoughtfully adhered to but also updated as time has passed. Specifically focusing on interactions with clients, the public, and their fellow REALTORS, these standards clearly lay out a higher level of professionalism to which all members must adhere. Whether it is a focus on operating in good faith, clear representation, fiduciary responsibility, or fair housing compliance, the Code of Ethics covers virtually all aspects of a real estate transaction.

While the implementation of the Code of Ethics is a benefit to all the professionals involved in a real estate transaction, the rights and resources available to the public through the local REALTORS association is something that separates REALTOR Professional Standards from those within other trade associations. Certainly the hope is to minimize cases through education and mentorship, but if a scenario occurs in which a REALTOR has possibly violated the Code when working with a client or member of the public, the Association mobilizes a process in which facts are gathered and mediation is pursued if a possible violation has occurred. This not only builds trust with clients and the community, but also serves as a learning opportunity for fellow REALTORS to ensure that they are adhering to the high standards of the association.

Much like the legal process, REALTOR Professional Standards involves fact finding, statements, mediation, and possible hearings. If a REALTOR has been found to be in violation of the Code of Ethics, a variety of options are available depending on the severity of the violation. Sometimes classes are required to provide education, while more serious violations can require fines or suspension of activities for a period of time. Also like the legal system, there are appeals available to REALTORS who feel that either due process has not been met or that the punishment is too harsh for the violation. In the end, the desired result is to uphold the standards that REALTORS agree to when they join the association, in order to build and maintain trust with their fellow professionals and the public.

When considering a real estate transaction, whether as a buyer or as a seller, you can have confidence that if you choose a REALTOR, it is a professional who has subscribed to a higher standard of service and professionalism. Of course, while the desire is that every transaction is executed smoothly, if you feel that an error occurred or that Professional Standards were not met, you can call in to the Clark County Association of REALTORS and determine whether a possible violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.

Rian Davis
Public Affairs Director
Clark County Association of REALTORS®