Every two years, agents must take continuing education courses before they can renew their license. Plenty of agents have indicated to me that this is a burden and would prefer to spend that time out selling instead of in a classroom. However, this process is in place to make sure that the important rules are remembered, and nothing slips through the cracks.
Even though the continuing education classes always address the topics of ethics and fair housing, a recent incident in Chicago proves how important these rules really are. A well-known and respected agent has been accused of discrimination. The HUD complaint alleges that he didn’t follow the appropriate protocol when his sellers exhibited racial discrimination and denied a qualified buyer a new home.
In this day and age, we like to think that racism no longer exists. One of the things I love about Chicago is that it is a big boiling pot of many different cultures, religions, nationalities and races, all living together in one spot.
Regardless of one’s personal feelings about another race or religion, etc., denying someone the opportunity to purchase a house because of these feelings is illegal — plain and simple. If your client expresses discriminatory reasons for not wanting to sell, it’s the agent’s responsibility to fall back on his/her professional education and proceed accordingly, even if that means walking away. You’re missing out on your commission anyway because of their refusal to sell, and if you leave the listing and report the incident, you will not only avoid punishment, but you will have taken the noble road.
In our cover story, we address the current Fair Housing violation in detail, and also provide more information on what can happen if you don’t follow the rules. In general, despite your frustration at having to learn similar regulations over and over again, they are in place for a reason. In an industry like real estate, there are many opportunities for buyers and sellers to be taken advantage of. Selling agents are working with the client’s most valuable possession, and buyers agents are privy to a lot of their clients’ personal financial information. The rules, codes and ethics are important to regulate the industry, and make sure that everyone is safe. Also, the rules keep things fair and equal. Many lines of NAR’s Code of Ethics are somewhat intuitive, but not for everyone. Without the rules written in stone, some agents would respond differently in a situation which may help their business, but harm others; these written rules keep the playing field equal.
Instead of heading into your CE classes with a negative attitude, this time try going in with the intention of learning something valuable. You never know when these rules can come in handy, and your knowledge might one day save a sale.