REALTORS® are subject to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver members have been subject to the Code of Ethics since the Board was established in 1919. This Code, amended and updated a multitude of times since, reflects the values for which REALTORS® stand:
• Absolute honesty and integrity
• Cooperation with and fairness to all
• Professional competent service
• The Golden Rule
Standards of Business Practice
Appended to the Code of Ethics is the Code’s Standards of Business Practice. Its 28 articles describe the expected standards to be met by them in their professional capacity as REALTORS®. The Code does not regulate REALTORS® in their private lives. The Standards of Business Practice deals with client-agent relationships, due diligence investigations, professional competence and courtesy, respecting agency relationships and supporting the profession’s various organizations.
The Standards of Business Practice has a lot to say about professional standards including the obligation of REALTORS® to:
• be informed of essential facts about relevant legislation, standards, the real estate market, the contents of standard forms and the obligation to update professional knowledge through the taking of continuing education courses;
• describe the nature of (or the lack of) agency representation being provided to the client or customer; the obligation to follow clients’ lawful instructions; act in the clients’ best interests, keep their confidences and disclose all material facts. The obligation to follow a client’s instructions does not allow them to mislead other parties and does not include accepting client instructions that would require REALTORS® to breach professional standards.
• take reasonable skill and care to discover facts about properties so as not to misrepresent them;
• put agency contracts (e.g. listings and buyer agency agreements) and contracts of purchase and sale in writing while ensuring that these contracts accurately reflect the agreement of the parties in a clear and legible form;
• disclose all benefits being received (or those that are anticipated to be received) by the REALTOR® to clients and customers;
• accurately account for all monies and valuables entrusted to the REALTOR® by the client;
• recommend that clients take professional advice from third parties when the REALTOR® cannot provide the information clients require;
• promptly disclose in writing and on the required form that the REALTOR® is buying, selling or attempting to buy or sell (directly, or indirectly) an interest in property;
• provide a skilled and conscientious service to clients and customers that reasonably conforms to the expected professional standard;
• meet or exceed professional advertising standards including providing accurate information; making clear and supported claims, specifically noting any significant exceptions to offers or inducements and not misleading the public;
• meet all Human Rights legislation and general obligations and not to discriminate (or accept instructions to discriminate) against any member of a protected class of individuals;
• comply (and cooperate with) their Board or Association’s bylaws and professional standards;
• meet or exceed any statutory requirements relevant to their professional services including, for example, the Competition Act;
• vigorously compete with other REALTORS® for business but not to publicly discredit another REALTOR® or brokerage;
• respect other REALTORS®’ agency contracts;
• place professional or financial disputes before their Board’s Professional Conduct or Arbitration Committee;
Notwithstanding that the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice regulate how REALTORS® must conduct themselves; it does not regulate:
• civility, courtesy, the type or quality of the services provided
• the fees or commissions that REALTORS® freely negotiate with their clients.
These issues and the relationship challenges that often go with them are within the sole discretion of the brokerage and managing broker to resolve with the client.
Contractual disputes, claims for money and/or demands to be released from a listing or buyer agency contract can only be resolved in court if the parties are not been able to resolve them directly.
The Board cannot require REALTORS® to pay compensation to claimants; to vary their agency contracts or require that the parties meet their obligations in a real estate contract.