NAR’s Recent change to COE…is it the “slippery slope”?

Last week, I, as a broker, received a communique from PAAR giving me a heads up about a change in the NAR Code of Ethics. I was not sure why it was not sent out to all members of PAAR until I read the email and all its links.

In essence it addresses this:

Due to the social unrest experienced in some areas of our country the National Association of REALTORS has changed the Code of Ethics to include nondiscriminatory behavior of REALTORS to extend to their personal lives.

At first read, you may say, “Yes, REALTORS should not use discriminatory language on their personal social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc.” But is this not the proverbial “Slippery Slope”? Article 10 of the Code of Ethics already addresses discrimination in the course of being a REALTOR in our transactions. The Association’s stand is that when a REALTOR uses discriminatory language in their personal lives it reflects poorly on the Association.

Is stifling personal opinions and the right to speak our mind any business of the Association? Well, according to them it is not a violation of your First Amendment Rights as that is given by the government. They are not the government… you join this association and agree to whatever they hand down through their governing boards. If you do not like it, do not become a member. The question on many members minds as they get ready to write that nearly $700 check to renew their dues is “do I want to be a member of an organization that wishes to dictate what I say in my personal life?”

Is this really where we want the enforcement of this issue in our personal lives to come from? Did you join the National, State, and local Associations of REALTORS to govern your personal thoughts and opinions? I teach my students that all people have biases. When you join the association, you are agreeing to abide by the code of ethics in your business practices no matter what you believe in your personal lives. We must raise our business standards to meet what the code requires of us to make sure that all peoples have the same opportunities in housing and abide by the Federal, State, and local Fair Housing laws.

Who is going to enforce this new standard? Who SHOULD enforce it? Wouldn’t a better approach be to announce the NARs position on this issue then have a call to action across our nation for brokers to educated/re-educate our sales staff regarding the Fair Housing laws and the importance they have to our industry. Changing hearts and minds cannot be forced on any segment of the population. It has been tried and failed throughout history. Educating and working with folks on a personal level, showing them how eliminating this behavior from their lives will enrich them and all that they encounter; that is where change occurs.

Does what I say in my personal life reflect poorly on the Association as a whole? Some would say “Yes”. Most would say “This is America and I respect his/her right to say what they want.” Trust me, when people read discriminatory language on the internet coming from a REALTOR, they most likely do not want to do business with them anyway… it is not a good way to get business.

Being a part of the association does not necessarily define who you are. For most it is a vehicle to practice real estate and make a living to support our families and our way of life.

Personally, I practice the Code of Ethics in my professional and personal life. I have received compliments from folks of various protected classes for treating everyone the same. To me, that is just good business. What makes me nervous (that slippery slope) anyone can say anything, and they do. And, when they do even if it is false, you will have to defend yourself.

Realtor R
Betty Winn

Betty Winn