California Realtors Get Tough on Ethics Violations

In a move designed to boost accountability in the industry, the California Association of Realtors announced last week that it would publish information about member ethics violations on its website—albeit in a members-only section.

The country’s largest state-focused real estate group isn’t ready to give members who violate its code of ethics a break.

In a pilot program approved by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Board of Directors, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) will publish a database, including names and photos, of members who are found to have violated the Realtor Code of Ethics. While the information will be posted in a members-only section of the group’s website, it nonetheless means ethical misconduct is exposed before a wide body of the violator’s peers. (The association has 165,000 members.)

According to CAR Vice President and General Counsel June Barlow, the goal is in line with ongoing efforts to encourage professionalism among members—a key issue for the industry.

“The main thing is that our members know what behavior is appropriate and what isn’t. They are required now to take code of ethics training, but sometimes people need to be reminded,” Barlow told Inman News last week.

Tough Standards

It’s not the first move the association has made on the ethics front: Last year, the CAR launched a database of information on professionals who had been disciplined by state authorities for violations of California’s Business and Professions Code, including amy sanctions imposed by the state.

But this move extends to the NAR’s industry-specific ethics code, with the goal of ensuring members take the threat of punishment seriously. (Another way CAR is doing this: The group convinced NAR to allow it to raise the cap on fines for ethics violations from $5,000 to $15,000.)

While the association has been compiling data on violations for three years, the database—expected to launch within the next two months—will include only new violations. Warnings will not be published, but the database will document all fines, suspensions, and other reprimands.

The pilot program, which is CAR-funded and part of a 17-point program being implemented by an industry task force, has been approved to run over the next five years.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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