"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."
So begins the Preamble to the National Association of REALTORS® Code Of Ethics. Those are not just words, but an important statement of institutional values. Everything members of the National Association of REALTORS® do should be performed with that vital underpinning in mind.
As we were reminded by a short video from NAR at the beginning of this Independence Day weekend, the founders of the United States recognized that protecting private property rights was prerequisite to protecting "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in a new and very different nation. REALTORS®s' role, along with our counterparts in the title and mortgage industries, is facilitating thorough contracting, financing, conveyance, and recorded ownership rights in real property of all types. Whether we're dealing with a first-time homeowner or a professional investor, unimproved land, a small duplex, an apartment complex or an office building or manufacturing plant -- the process depends on confidence in the property rights being bought and sold, and in the knowledge and professionalism of those of us who do this for a living.
"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."
I am confident that most practitioners do their best, given their individual levels of education and experience, to honor the importance of this process. I know from my experience with the Professional Standards committee at the Austin Board of REALTORS® that mistakes sometimes happen and, unfortunately, a few of our members don't take this responsibility as seriously and professionally as they should. I also know that we work hard to "police our own," with discipline when needed and education when called for, and with processes in place that all our clients and other real estate professionals to bring errors and oversights to our attention so that we can make corrections and try to prevent repeat occurrences.
What follows the Preamble is a comprehensive Code Of Ethics. The Code was originally adopted in 1913, and now consists of 17 Articles and 87 Standards Of Practice. A copy of the Code is available on my website (www.BuyOrSellAustin.com), and I'll be happy to send you a copy if you're interested.
I will comment on this blog site from time to time on specific provisions of the Code Of Ethics, but I'll close here for now with one more paragraph from near the end of the Preamble:
"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.'"