Who is a “real estate professional” under Article 15 of the Code of Ethics?

QUESTION: I am an appraiser member of the REALTOR® organization. I’ve learned recently that a local real estate agent has been making some disparaging statements about me as a result of a contract that fell through on one of her listings after I appraised the property at a value that was significantly below the contract price. I’d like to file an ethics complaint against her with her local association of REALTORS®. According to Article 15 of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® are prohibited from knowingly or recklessly making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices. My question is, who is a “real estate professional” under Article 15? Would it include an appraiser like me?

ANSWER: Effective January 1st of this year, a definition of the term “real estate professional” was added to Section 1 (the definition section) of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual of the National Association of REALTORS®. The definition provides as follows: “‘Real estate professionals,’ for purposes of Article 15, are those engaged in the disciplines of real estate specified in Article 11.” Article 11 of the Code provides in relevant part the following:

The services which Realtors® provide to their clients and customers shall conform to the standards of practice and competence which are reasonably expected in the specific real disciplines in which they engage; specifically, residential real estate brokerage, real property management, commercial and industrial real estate brokerage, land brokerage, real estate appraisal, real estate counseling, real estate syndication, real estate auction, and international real estate.

Since “real estate appraisal” is specifically identified in Article 11, appraisers would be covered under the definition of a “real estate professional,” and Article 15 of the Code would apply to false or misleading statements made by a REALTOR® about an appraiser. Note that an ethics complaint must be filed within 180 days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within 180 days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later.

As an alternative to filing an ethics complaint, you might consider requesting the appointment of an ombudsman who may be able to help you resolve the matter in a more informal manner. All local associations are required to have an ombudsman program, so if you’re interested, give your local association a call for more information about how the ombudsman program works.

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Filed Under: Code of Ethics,