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Ethics and Professionalism Task Force - Report/ Recommendations

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January 7, 2013

In 2012, the most recent Ethics and Professionalism Task Force was appointed which is chaired by Jim Hamilton.  Other members of the Task Force are:

Jim Keith
Doreen Roberts
Jim Link
Suzanne Yost
Jeanne Radsick
Lupe Soto
Jamie Saltman
Jill Furtado
Vince Malta
Ann Pettijohn
Clay Sigg
Mark Marquez

The Task Force appointed three subgroups:  Membership, chaired by Suzanne Yost, Licensing, chaired by Vince Malta, and Enforcement chaired by Jeanne Radsick.  In addition, the full Task Force has had two in-person meetings and multiple conference calls.   Many options were discussed, including some longstanding policies.  Competence, Accountability and Transparency, emerged as themes.  Under each you will find specific potential recommendations.  Some would require legislation, some would require N.A.R. approval and some could be done with existing programs or small augmentations, and some would require more detail for implementation if the concept is approved.  Comments are requested from the entire directorate but reports will be made, and feedback solicited from, the Transaction and Regulatory Policy Committee, the Professional Standards Committee, the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee and the Executive Committee.  In addition to a presentation at the Professional Standards Committee, an open forum for discussion of the Task Force Recommendations is scheduled for Wednesday, January 23, 2013 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Colton Room I/II/II, Level 3 of the Conference Center.


1.  Competence.  Educational excellence and competence in the field should be required of all C.A.R. members.
a. All real estate licensees should be required to fulfill their CE education with an annual commitment of 12 units/year.  The Ethics portion of the mandated requirement shall be participatory (not home study;  must be live or verified electronic interactive).  Renewals of Ethics requirements must be based on case studies. (requires legislative action)
b. Specialty licensing/endorsements should no longer be opposed.
c. An internship program requiring 3 supervised, completed transactions prior to receiving a full real estate license will be required of all new licensees.  (requires legislative action)
d.  Article 11 that requires competent representation shall be promoted and enforced; those not practicing competently will be disciplined and sanctioned.  
2.  Accountability. REALTORS® violating the Code of Ethics should be processed swiftly, efficiently with a minimum amount of burden on the person filing the complaint. 
a. Associations will be surveyed and results posted as to utilization of the following systems already in place:  Ethics Advocate, Anonymous Complaint process, Ombudsman. 
b.   Standards for processing ethics violations actively and effectively will be developed and Associations will be monitored and evaluated for their efficacy according to standards set up by C.A.R.   These standards will include use of expedited processes (referred to in 2a.), adequate staff (or contracting with a service or another association) and target times for processing.
c. Information will be gathered about current relationships between associations for sharing panels.  If necessary, a structure of regional hearing panels will be explored.
d.   Associations should not use lack of enforcement as a mechanism for recruiting members.
3.  Transparency. Discipline regarding California REALTORS® should be proactively posted for all members to see and made available to the general public.  
a. C.A.R. shall maintain a data base for use as follows: All associations shall report each ethics complaint filed and how it is resolved, check ethics report history prior to allowing members to join and ethics report history after a finding of violation but prior to meting out discipline on a given case.
b. Current or past members of an association, in order to join or transfer to another association,  must produce a letter of "good standing" from their current or past association complying with NAR's current requirement that no Association can admit a REALTOR® with unresolved ethics discipline from their prior Association.  Alternatively, there must be verification from the ethics database that there are no outstanding disciplinary matters.
c. C.A.R. shall publish on its website and magazine, in accordance with NAR policy, when any REALTOR® has been disciplined twice within three years.  This will include names, violations and penalties.
d. C.A.R. shall republish on its website and magazine publicly available DRE sanctions with summaries of the violations.
e. Discipline regarding California real estate licensees should be made available to members and the public and include:

• Ethics decisions resulting in discipline
• DRE imposition of discipline
• Criminal violations of public record and
• MLS imposition of discipline

 Guidelines for publication to the members and the public will be developed and N.A.R. policy changes may be required for more frequent publications and public notification of Ethics decisions and possibly MLS discipline.

Conclusion and Next Steps
Based on feedback at the January directors meetings in Monterey, the Task Force will formulate recommended actions for consideration by the directors at the May Sacramento meetings.