Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Industry Relations Episode 48: What NAR’s Revised Code of Ethics Means for REALTORS – with Laura Farley

Not too long ago, REALTORS were unified, often claiming to be neither Democrat nor Republican but members of the REALTOR Party. Today, however, the polarization in our country is reflected in the real estate community. And the recent changes to the NAR Code of Ethics, specifically Standard of Practice 10-5, seem to have pushed us even farther apart. So, how are these changes likely to affect REALTORS in practice? Can we be more inclusive without favoring one political party over another? 

Laura Farley serves as General Counsel at the Virginia REALTORS Association, and she has more than 10 years of experience handling and supervising professional standards cases. Prior to joining the state association, Laura was an attorney for the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS. On this episode of Industry Relations, Laura joins Rob and Greg to provide an overview of the three major changes to NAR’s Code of Ethics and offer insight into how those changes might impact real estate professionals now that the professional standards apply to everything a REALTOR does, real estate related or not.

Laura explains why NAR’s list of protected classes in Standard of Practice 10-5 is more inclusive than a lot of states and addresses the subjective nature of determining intent as well as the concerns that 10-5 gives some REALTORS more speech rights than others. She also discusses the significance of removing the word ‘willful’ from NAR’s definition of public trust, introducing us to the concept of disparate impact—and why it may or may not apply to Article 10. Listen in for Laura’s insight on how 10-5 has further polarized the REALTOR community and get her take on the best possible outcome around the revised Code of Ethics.

What’s Discussed:  

Laura’s decade of legal experience with professional standards cases

Laura’s overview of the 3 major changes to the NAR Code of Ethics

Why NAR’s list of protected classes is more inclusive than most state lists

The significance of the word ‘use’ in Standard of Practice 10-5 (REALTORS must not ‘use’ harassing speech, hate speech, epithets or slurs)

The controversy around how 10-5 gives some REALTORS more speech rights than others

The subjective nature of determining an agent’s intent to harm, hurt or harass

How Laura thinks about the concerns of REALTORS on the political right re: implicit bias

The significance of removing the word ‘willful’ from the definition of public trust

The concept of disparate impact and why it may or may not apply to Article 10

How the change to 10-5 has further polarized the REALTOR community

Connect with Laura:


Laura at Virginia REALTORS

Email: lfarley [at] virginiarealtors [dot] org

Connect with Rob and Greg: 

Rob’s Website

Greg’s Website


Laura’s Code of Ethics Update Video

Virginia REALTORS Code of Ethics Resources

NAR Code of Ethics Changes

NAR’s Code of Ethics & Standards of Practice

Rob’s Post on an Alternative to the New Speech Code

Virginia REALTORS Diversity & Inclusion PAG

Rob’s Post on Disparate Impact

Norwood v. Harrison

Railway v. Hanson

Jenna Ryan

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