PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Ethics Sets ‘Realtors’ Apart
Marcene Hedayati | June 2016
For the vast majority of those who receive our Real Estate In-Depth newspaper and are reading this column, it is not because you are a real estate professional and have a real estate license, but because your are a “Realtor.” Unless you are a member of the National Association of Realtors, you are not permitted to promote yourself as a “Realtor.” By virtue of becoming a member of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, you automatically join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR). Accordingly, a portion of your dues goes to all three entities.
You may wonder why the word “Realtor” makes a difference. Only “Realtors” are obligated to uphold the Code of Ethics and the standards of practice established in 1913 by NAR. Our industry is one of the few that has established strict rules that dictate the way we conduct business with our fellow associates and the public at large. Apart from all the services and support we receive from all three associations, we also secure the right to call ourselves “Realtors.”
As part of our commitment to uphold the Code of Ethics, HGAR has in place a Grievance Committee, Mediation Committee and Professional Standards Committee. All the members on these three committees are placed by invitation only and have consistently demonstrated their commitment to and knowledge of the Code of Ethics and have fulfilled the necessary training established by NAR.
When a complaint is lodged against one of our members, an official Complaint Form, which can be found on the HGAR website, must be submitted to our Director of Legal Services, Leon Cameron. He is our association’s Professional Standards Administrator and oversees the process. After receiving the complaint it is reviewed by the Grievance Committee, which is tasked with determining whether a complaint falls within the parameters of the Code of Ethics.
At such time as the Grievance Committee makes a positive determination, the case is handed off to a panel composed of members of the Professional Standards Committee, who hear all of the evidence from both the Complainant and Respondent and make a determination whether a violation of the Code occurred, and, if necessary, decide penalties. Finally, the case is presented to the Board of Directors (keeping all parties anonymous, of course) for their final approval.
As you can see, this is not a simple process and the responsibility of policing our own, with higher standards of conduct being the ultimate objective, is not taken lightly.
It is commendable and remarkable that as independent contractors, we acknowledge the importance of working together. In fact, if it weren’t for NAR, NYSAR, and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, we would have very few resources to call upon to address the many complex issues that confront us as real estate professionals.