• +717-371-0557 direct or 717-207-8093 office

A New Year, a New Code of Ethics

A New Year, a New Code of Ethics

Ok, well maybe not entirely new, but there have been some changes the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics (COE).  This important document governs our conduct with not only the public but also with each other and the standards outlined are what set us apart as an organization and as a profession from other salespeople.  In the interest of space I am not listing all the language specifically so to review the entire COE and understand better the context of these changes, go to http://www.realtor.org/mempolweb.nsf/pages/code .

Read on after the jump to find out the changes affecting the COE this year:

  • Standard of Practice 3-2 was amended to clarify the time at which offers of compensation can be changed.  The offer of compensation is the basis for our whole system of cooperation and this change clarifies the basic point that offers of compensation can only be changed BEFORE the submittal of a purchase offer.


  • NEW Standard of Practice 3-9 states:  Realtors shall not provide access to a listed property on terms other than those established by the Owner or Listing Broker.  Translation:  Just because you have access to the key doesn’t mean you are allowed to use it.  Always follow the instructions of the Owner and Listing Broker to avoid any problems regarding access to a property.

As an additional point unrelated to the COE, the vast majority (including ours in Lancaster County) of electronic lock box systems are keyed in a way that allows the lockbox owner to easily see who accessed the lockbox and when.  This provides an additional layer of security to prevent unauthorized access to properties and is a huge advantage compared to using an old fashioned combination style lockbox.  In my opinion the exclusive use of electronic lockboxes should be incorporated into any agent or Broker’s risk management strategy.

  • Article 11 adds some additional language to include Land Brokerage as a discipline recognized by the COE.


  • Standard of Practice 11-1 – When REALTORS® prepare opinions of real property value or price, other than in pursuit of a listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer, such opinions shall include the following unless the party requesting the opinion requires a specific type of report or different data set (the italicized text is the change):  )see the COE for the requirements).


This changes deals with the fact that in certain cases certain types of clients require the use of specific forms that don’t allow the required statements.  While this is fine for some things, it is very important to remember that here in Pennsylvania licensed agents are only allowed to perform CMAs under specific conditions and providing opinions of value (appraisals, BPO’s, written opinions in exchange for a fee, etc) falls into a category of activities only licensed Appraisers are allowed to perform.

  • Standard of Practice 12-5 -REALTORS® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or (italicized text is the change) listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that REALTOR®‘s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.  


Again, here in Pennsylvania the Real Estate Commission has very specific requirements relating to advertising and if you comply with those you will easily be in compliance with the COE requirements.

  • Standard of Practice 15-2 regarding making false or misleading statements was slightly amended to clarify the language.


  • NEW Standard of Practice 15-3 – The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about competitors, competitors’ businesses, and competitors’ business practices includes the duty to publish a clarification about or to remove statements made by others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading.

Times are a changing and the world of technology allows many people to say many things.  Realtors have an affirmative obligation to remove any false or misleading statements in their blog, websites, anything they have “control” over, even if they are not the ones who posted the statements.  If you can’t remove it, you have an obligation to post a response correcting the false statement.  The best advice I can give in this regards is what your mom probably told you, if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.

  • Standard of Practice 16-20 – Language was amended to further clarify the duty  a Realtor who leaves a firm/Broker to refrain from soliciting clients of the previous firm/Broker.


As always, I’d like you to be part of the conversation, so if you like what you read here please comment, forward The Lancaster Connection.com to your friends, subscribe and if you have questions, need real estate advice or want to buy or sell a home, you can call or text me at 717-371-0557, email me at Jason@JasonsHomes.com or contact me at the office at 717-490-8999! 

Your Friend in Real Estate, 

Jason Burkholder 

Weichert, Realtors – Engle & Hambright  

Search for Lancaster County Homes for sale at www.JasonsHomes.com by clicking here!  

Want to see what’s happening to home prices in your neighborhood?  Go to www.RealEstateCrystalBall.com !

Jason Burkholder