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agent_shaking_handCelebrating the 100th anniversary of its Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice this year, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) continues to lead the way by setting REALTORS® apart from other real estate professionals (nonmembers). The first Code of Ethics was adopted in 1913 to establish standards and encourage professionalism in the real estate industry. This living document has undergone many revisions and updates in the last century to ensure it stays relevant.

The Making of the Code
The first REALTOR® Code of Ethics was written before license laws and most other regulations governing real estate existed, and it was seen as a declaration of the industry’s principles and beliefs. At the National Association’s annual convention, held in Winnipeg, Canada, in July 1913, the Code of Ethics Committee submitted its much-anticipated proposal for a national Code of Ethics. It was adopted by the NAR Board of Directors after a brief discussion, with recommendations that it be printed and distributed to all members and adopted by all local boards.

In May 1946, NAR’s Professional Standards Committee was formed to help strengthen the Code and promote ethics education and enforcement efforts in state and local associations.

The “Golden Thread”
Today, the Code is known as the “golden thread” of the real estate profession, uniting those devoted to raising the standards of professionalism and service in real estate. NAR’s Code of Ethics guides the professional activities of REALTORS® and their relationships with other practitioners. The Code ensures that consumers are served by requiring REALTORS® to cooperate with each other in furthering clients’ best interests, and demands respect for others’ exclusive relationships with clients. Consisting of 17 Articles, 71 supporting Standards of Practice and 131 explanatory case interpretations, the Code is enforced by the local associations where REALTORS® can mediate and arbitrate disputes with each other and where ethics complaints can be filed by any person who believes a REALTOR® should be subject to disciplinary action for violating the Code.

Code of Ethics Training
NAR bylaws require that brokers and their agents take a refresher course on the Code of Ethics within four-year cycles to help educate them about the Code and recent changes. For example, in 2012, Article 15 was revised to expand its applicability to all “real estate professionals” and not just “competitors.”

It’s easy for NAR members to satisfy their Code of Ethics training requirement. State and local associations nationwide continue to expand course offerings, brokerages and real estate schools also offer ethics courses that meet mandatory learning objectives and criteria, and NAR offers free online training.

Code Sets REALTORS® Apart
Knowing and following the Code of Ethics helps REALTORS® ensure good business practices. But it’s also good for business, as it is just one of the many NAR tools that set REALTORS® apart from their non-member competitors.

NAR’s Code of Ethics is renowned for its progressive attitude toward equal opportunity and fair housing. The Code of Ethics has served as a vital benchmark for conducting business the right way for a century, and it will continue to lead the way for REALTORS® into its second century.

Visit to:

• See the visionaries who created the 1913 Code of Ethics
• See the preamble proudly on display in 1944
• Order Code of Ethics pins and banners
• Read the 1913 Code and Historical context, and
• Request local recognition of the centennial