Coming Soon: Transparency, Scrutiny and More Mandated Professionalism

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The world is becoming more transparent by the day. Our personal and professional lives are monitored by cameras, apps, traffic trackers, and cookies. While the tremendous growth of accessible data has brought great transparency, it can also create liability. 

For those who work with consumers in the public eye, it has never been more important to transact business in a professional manner. Public reviews, rants, and accounts of our work are online for all to see. Our actions as REALTORS® must be in the best interest of customers and the public.

Two new policy updates from the National Association of REALTORS® have been adopted to help ensure that REALTORS® are keeping up their ethical duties to one another and their customers. The first is particularly relevant for our markets where bidding wars are the norm.

When requested, REALTORS® are now required to confirm—in writing—that they’ve delivered a buyer’s offer to a seller (the only exception being delivery of a seller-signed letter stating that no other offers will be accepted). This may seem like common sense, but with the speed and competitive nature of some markets today, this practice is sometimes lost in the shuffle. 

Communication is key to avoid so many of the conflicts we see in brokerage management, at the MLS, or with the Department of Licensing. Brokers know that the best practice in these situations is straightforward: delivering the first page of the rejected offer, crossed out and labeled “Rejected”, signed by seller, to the unsuccessful buyer’s broker. 

In the absence of this delivery, it’s not too much to expect that a listing broker would email a buyer’s broker and confirm the submission of the offer. It creates a record of delivery for everyone within the transaction. It’s also good for clients, and consumer trust in our industry’s professionals. It’s no longer an option. 

It’s important to remember that as much loyalty we have to our personal clients, we owe a great duty to customers and the public as well. Taking the extra steps to communicate fully with everyone we transact with not only improves our image, it helps to avoid unnecessary conflicts which hurt everyone involved.

As a further incentive to increase professional standards, REALTOR® associations have been given greater flexibility to notify membership of members’ names and photos when they violate the Code of Ethics. The new policy makes publication to other REALTOR® members an option for state and local boards, and it will certainly be employed by some. 

REALTOR® associations don’t want to publicly shame members who make a simple mistake. Repeat offenders who cavalierly ignore the Code of Ethics, though, cause great damage to the image of the profession. In a time when consumers can see so much about how we do business broadly across the web, it makes sense that our members should know and highlight those in our membership who will cause our reputation harm.

“Coming soon” marketing, pocket listings, booming prices, multiple offers, and scant inventory make for a highly charged environment for overworked real estate pros. Shortcuts to ease the workload might sometimes be tempting, but if the ethical responsibilities of the profession weren’t enough to keep a licensee in line before, the omnipresent observation and analysis of our business practices must be.

We each have the opportunity, and responsibility to raise the bar. Our Code of Ethics demands it, and our consumers deserve it. Thank you for doing your part.

Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord
is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth and President of Seattle King County REALTORS®. You can find his team at and


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