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The Board of Directors for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently voted in favor of a motion presented by NAR’s Professional Standards Committee making it a violation for REALTORS® to use harassing or hate speech toward any of the protected classes under Article 10 of NAR’s Code of Ethics. Those include race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Professional Standards Committee recommendations come as NAR works to reaffirm its commitment to fair housing and position its members to lead America’s real estate industry in the fight against discrimination and inequality.

“I applaud NAR’s Board of Directors and our Professional Standards Committee for their efforts to raise the bar on the professionalism and private speech of America’s 1.4 million REALTORS®,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, Calif. “Combatting and overcoming bigotry and injustice starts with each of us. REALTORS® today [at press time] took tangible steps to ensure we are held to the highest possible standard while providing a mechanism of enforcement for those who violate our new policies.”

Local, state and national REALTOR® associations received various complaints about discriminatory speech posted online by REALTORS® earlier this year, particularly on social media. In subsequent months, NAR’s Professional Standards Committee and Interpretations Procedures Advisory Board met to consider the Code of Ethics’ applicability to discriminatory speech and conduct beyond a REALTORS®’s real estate duties.

Following months of meetings and deliberations, NAR’s Advisory Board recommended that its Code of Ethics apply to every action a REALTOR® takes, whether personal or professional.

Any complaint alleging a violation of Article 10 as illustrated by Standard of Practice 10-5 can now be brought to a hearing panel at a local REALTOR® association, which will be asked to assess the circumstances of each individual case. Overall, although the proposal seeks to extend enforcement of the Code beyond its current limits of real estate transactions and real estate-related activities, this added reach will not increase a REALTOR® or REALTOR®-Principal’s liability under the law.

Moving forward, NAR’s Professional Standards Committee will continue working to develop case interpretations to assist members and professional standards enforcement volunteers in understanding the Code’s applicability.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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