OUR MISSION: The Whitman County Association of REALTORS® provides tools and resources for REALTORS® to better serve their clients and community.
Photos courtesy of Mike Gordon & Kris Finch
Last week, NAR reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to make certain changes to the Code of Ethics and MLS policies regarding providing information about commissions and MLS participation. Although the exact language of the proposed settlement is still being finalized, most of the changes seek to more explicitly state what is already the spirit and intent of NAR’s Code of Ethics and MLS policies regarding providing information about commissions and MLS participation.
In accordance with the MLS system’s long-standing focus on creating an efficient, transparent marketplace for home buyers and sellers, the amount of compensation offered to buyers’ agents for each MLS listing will be made publicly available. Publicly accessible MLS data feeds will include offers of compensation, and buyers’ agents will have an affirmative obligation to provide such information to their clients for homes of interest.
Relatedly, the rule changes re-affirm that MLSs and brokerages, as always, must provide consumers all properties that fit their criteria regardless of compensation offered or the name of the listing brokerage.
While NAR has long encouraged buyers’ agents to explain how they expect to be paid, typically through offers of cooperative compensation from sellers’ agents, there will be a rule that more definitively states that buyers’ agents cannot represent that their services are free to clients.
Finally, with the seller’s prior approval, a licensed real estate agent will have access to the lockboxes of properties listed on an MLS even if the agent does not subscribe to the MLS.
NAR will work with the DOJ to agree on exact rule changes within 45 days, then the Board of Directors will have to approve the new rules. The Court overseeing the settlement must formally approve the agreement, at which point we anticipate that the new rules will take effect. NAR will keep members apprised of official rule changes as more details become available.
In entering this agreement with the DOJ, NAR admits no liability, wrongdoing or truth of any allegations by the DOJ. The agreement does not subject NAR to any fines or any payments.
Thank you to all of the real estate practitioners who have followed the Governor’s COVID-19 orders and guidance and practicing real estate in a safe manner. Real estate professionals have demonstrated to the public that we can conduct business safely and effectively under these guidelines; now, we will do it again. Washington REALTORS® will continue to work with the Governor’s office to help real estate brokers move forward with their business safely.
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 Board 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.
Finally, Directors approved a revision to the NAR Bylaws, expanding the definition of “public trust” to include all discrimination against the protected classes under Article 10 along with all fraud. Associations are required to share with the state real estate licensing authority final ethics decisions holding REALTORS® in violation of the Code of Ethics in instances involving real estate-related activities and transactions where there is reason to believe the public trust may have been violated.
The Board made these changes effective immediately, though the changes cannot be applied to speech or conduct that occurred before the effective date. NAR has produced training and resource materials to assist leaders with understanding and implementing the changes and will be rolling those out in the coming weeks.