REALTOR® Code of Ethics Updated to Take on Hate Speech
November 30, 2020 NAR Updates, Industry News
NAR’s Board of Directors recently voted to approve a series of updates that extend the application of Article 10 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics to discriminatory speech and conduct outside of members’ real estate practices.
Article 10 prohibits REALTORS® from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity in the provision of professional services and in employment practices.
The NAR Board of Directors approved a new Standard of Practice under the Article, 10-5, that states, “REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs” against members of those protected classes.
The Board also approved a change to professional standards policy, expanding the Code of Ethics’ applicability to all of a REALTOR® 's activities, and added guidance to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual to help professional standards hearing panels apply the new standard.
What does this mean?
This means that NAR has strengthened and expanded the Code of Ethics applicability to discriminatory speech and conduct. It means that posts on your personal social media accounts and other public expressions of hate speech or discriminatory practices may be subject to a Code of Ethics hearing and disciplinary action.
A good explanation can be found in the NAR Interpretation of Standard of Practice 10-5:
- Standard of Practice 10-5 is not focused on types of speech that might be subjectively deemed “offensive” or “discriminatory” by one person and not another. The Standard of Practice is based on very particular types of speech that are directly connected to the protected classes of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity under Article 10. Only the use of harassing speech, hate speech, epithets and slurs based on the protected classes of Article 10 are prohibited. The terms “harassing speech,” “hate speech,” “epithets,” and “slurs” can be commonly understood by use of a dictionary as well as other easily available references.
What this does not mean
Standard of Practice 10-5 is not focused on types of speech that might be subjectively deemed “offensive” or “discriminatory” by one person and not another. It does not violate any free speech issues nor does it mean that you can incur a code of ethics violation for posting your opinion online. A REALTOR®’s speech and conduct reflect on the REALTOR® organization whether said publicly on a business social media profile, or privately on a personal one.
Why is this change being made?
Quoting directly from NAR’s post about these changes,
“The [NAR Professional Standards] Committee felt strongly that a REALTOR®’s speech and conduct reflect on the REALTOR® organization whether said publicly on a business social media profile, or privately on a personal one. According to the Preamble of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® should be guided by the spirit of the Golden Rule of treating others as one would like to be treated. When a REALTOR® pledges to abide by the Code of Ethics, the highest principles and ethics of REALTORS® must be followed in all their activities, and cannot be abandoned in a profession dedicated to protecting the best interests of consumers.”
This change is being made to bring the Code of Ethics in line with modern fair housing ideals and to further ensure that no party is discriminated against at any point during the real estate transaction process.