One of the hottest topics of discussion at last week's director meetings of the California Association of Realtors® (CAR) was the report and recommendations of the Ethics and Professionalism Task Force. The task force was appointed last year. It is chaired by Jim Hamilton, a former CAR president. The task force membership comprises a who's who of respected professionals in the association.
The Report and Recommendations presented at the Monterey meeting did not constitute a complete and final version. There will be feedback - no doubt considerable feedback - before a final version is produced later this year. Moreover, as shall be seen subsequently, many of the recommendations are such that they would require extensive third-party action before they could be implemented. Some, for example those dealing with continuing education requirements, would require legislation at the state level. Others - particularly ones related to discipline for ethics violations - would necessitate amendments to procedures governed by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The Task Force recommendations are grouped under three themes that emerged as a result of their discussions and deliberations: Competence, Accountability, and Transparency. Most of the recommendations under the competency rubric would require state legislative action. One of them involves restructuring the current state continuing education requirements. Another advocates that CAR drop its long-standing opposition to specialty licensing or license endorsements. (As it is now, for example, California licensing requirements for selling commercial property are no different than those for selling residential property. One license fits all.) Also recommended by the task force: "An internship program requiring 3 supervised, completed transactions prior to receiving a full real estate license..."
The most extensive set of recommendations comes within the transparency section of the report. They focus on discipline for ethics violations, particularly on the publication and dissemination of disciplines that have been meted out. In this regard, the recommendations of the Ethics and Professionalism task force seem to be more highly focused on sticks than on carrots. This is not to say that the recommendations are bad ones, just that a somewhat more balanced approach might be beneficial.
In future columns we will examine in detail a number of the specific Task Force recommendations. Any input in this regard will be both appreciated and conveyed to the Task Force. It's a California project right now, but it is dealing with issues that come up throughout the country.