REALTOR® Guide to Ethics in Real Estate

Real estate is a business based on trust, and built on handshakes. Working ethically is essential building a solid relationship with your clients and to growing your business in a way you can be proud of. Buyers and sellers alike need to be able to depend on you to act with their best interest in mind, as they make major, life-altering decisions surrounding the purchase and sale of their homes and businesses. The National Association of REALTORS® is committed to promoting real estate ethics in everything we do.

Whether you’re a new and aspiring REALTOR® or whether you’re brushing up on changes in the industry, we have multiple resources to help you join us in a commitment to real estate ethics.

Be Honest with All Parties in the Transaction

This includes your client, other REALTORS® or real estate agents and their clients, and even yourself. It’s important to disclose issues like spotty credit records, for example, and as a REALTOR® part of your job is to collect and assemble all necessary paperwork and information to work through any potential roadblocks in the sale of purchase of a property.

Put Your Clients First

REALTORS® should make every effort to understand the housing needs of their client, including thoroughly researching available inventory, and sharing all relevant information with the buyer so they can make an informed decision. This service should be provided regardless of potential profit — the client’s interest should come first, at all times.

Be Forthcoming with All Parties

Disclose all pertinent facts regarding the property and the transaction to both the buyer and seller. If something seems questionable about a property, you’re obligated to investigate and to make recommendations that buyers consult their own experts and inspectors. If a seller, on the other hand, asks that you act in a less-than-honest or forthcoming manner, such as concealing a leaky roof or another defect, you should remain above board, try to bring them to your side or end the business relationship.

Be Truthful in Advertising and Communications with the Public

When communicating with the public — distributing newsletters, creating websites, or placing advertisements — represent only your own work, and don’t mistakenly take credit for the work of another real estate professional. It’s important that prospective clients can differentiate between your actual work when making a decision about their REALTOR®.

For additional information on the Code of Ethics for REALTORS®, visit the following resources and articles:

Dec. 31, 2012, is the deadline for completing your NAR Code of Ethics training. All REALTORS® must complete the training every four years to maintain their membership. An online training course at fulfills the requirement and is free of charge. Go to

Have you completed your NAR Code of Ethics training? Tell us about your experiences with ethics in real estate.

  1. Operating ethically is important, especially so in industries where your customers are making rather large expenditures – a home being one of, if not the, largest.