The Code of Ethics Goes Beyond Fair Housing Laws

April may be Fair Housing Month, but REALTORS® prioritize fair housing issues year-round. That’s because the NAR Code of Ethics holds you to a higher standard than the law requires.

Article 10 of the Code of Ethics states that you, as a REALTOR®, shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

You shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against anyone based on those categories. You also cannot discriminate in employment practices against anyone— includes employees, independent contractors, and administrative and clerical staff—based on the protected classes.

The Code includes Standards of Practice that further clarify your responsibilities to fair housing.

  • If you are involved in a sale or lease of a residence, you cannot volunteer information about the racial, religious, or ethnic composition of a neighborhood or engage in any activity that may result in panic selling.
  • If you aren’t involved in a sale or lease, you can only provide demographic information related to a property, transaction, or professional assignment if the information is deemed necessary to assist with or complete the assignment and it’s from a reliable and independent source.
  • You cannot print, display, or circulate any statement or advertisement that indicates any preferences, limitations, or discrimination based on the protected classes.
  • You cannot use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on the protected classes. (The Code of Ethics applies to non-real estate activities. Even comments made on private social media channels can violate the Code of Ethics.)

You can be proud of your REALTOR® association’s ongoing commitment to going beyond what’s required and working toward everyone receiving professional, equitable treatment in the real estate market. NAR added the protected classes of sexual orientation and gender identity to the Code of Ethics in 2011—a full decade before a HUD memorandum amending the Fair Housing Act in 2021. Today, Standard of Practice 10-5’s ban on harassing and hate speech goes further than what the Fair Housing Act says.