by Pat Breme, RCE, CIPS
A Gift of Vision, that sounds pretty lofty coming from NAR in 1978 but Bill North the Executive Vice President at the time, thought members needed to be reminded of the Code’s significance. The Code was adopted in 1913 and made a condition of membership in 1924. In his article, North describes the Code as a Gift of Vision, a living document. It is the vision of those members in the early 1900’s who dreamed that the business of real estate could become a profession… that the highest and best use of the land required the highest and best measures of professional responsibility. Those members also believed that private property ownership of the land was indispensable to political democracy and a free and prosperous citizenry.
It was not the threat of government sanctions that moved REALTORS® of the time to make a commitment to business integrity and fair dealing. The Code of Ethics was created as a rejection of the fraudulent real estate practices exemplified by the Robber Barons whose motto was Let the Public be Damned. At the time only law, medicine and engineering had ethical standards. Over the years, the Code proved to be a guide in NAR’s growth and development, an impetus for education of its members. It also bound local, state and the national association together in an interdependent relationship.
The Code has evolved and will continue to evolve, reflecting the changes in the business. Its principles will be strengthen, not deluded, to ensure REALTORS® are held to a higher standard. The Code must remain constant, enforceable without being oppressive, meaningful without being dogmatic. The Code is a living document because each Article has a single premise, service to the public. It is the means to that end.
As a condition of membership, REALTORS® agree to uphold the Code but it is not the law and does not supersede licensing regulations. The Code’s relationship to the law is a follows-1. It defines those duties and obligations required in the public interest which are beyond the capacity or power of the law to mandate. 2. The Code supports the law by requiring a higher sensitivity of the duties and obligations which it imposes. The Code is independent of the law but it cannot survive if misused or misapplied. A diligent and fair search for the truth is mandatory and there are procedures in place to ensure that due process is applied to all parties.
To REALTORS®, the Code of Ethics offers the lessons of hindsight, the guidance of foresight and the understanding of insight- a RARE Gift of Vision.
Read the entire article penned by Bill North here.