Your Guide to Comply with NAR’s Code of Ethics Changes Regarding Hate Speech

On November 13, 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors approved a change to Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, making it a violation for REALTORS® to use harassing or hate speech toward any of the protected classes. This includes race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. The changes went into effect immediately.

How are the terms “harassing speech, hate speech, epithets and slurs” defined by NAR?

NAR’s Appendix XII to Part Four of the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, which can be found at, thoroughly explains these terms and how they will be applied.

Why was this change made?

Following the civil unrest in the late spring and into summer, NAR, state and local associations received an unprecedented number of complaints regarding REALTORS®’ speech and conduct online. A letter sent to NAR President Vince Malta requested these changes, which were then brought to NAR’s Professional Standards Committee and the Board of Directors to review.

What do these changes apply to?

The new ethical obligation does not apply to anything that occurred before the change went into effect on Friday, November 13. However, the changes are effective immediately and these violations not only apply to REALTORS® on a professional level, but also on a personal level.

How are complaints filed and handled?

Ethics complaints may be filed at to be evaluated through a process of checks and balances to protect members. That complaint first goes to our Grievance Committee for review; they either dismiss the case or forward it to a formal ethics hearing. Following the hearing, the panel members deliberate and determine if the respondent is found in violation of the Code of Ethics based on the articles cited in the complaint. If a violation is found, disciplinary action is imposed, which could include fines, required education/ coursework, letters of warning/reprimand, suspension of membership or in extreme cases, expulsion. Either side has a 10-day window to appeal a decision before the Board of Directors should they feel they have grounds for a procedural deficiency based on the outcome of the hearing.

When does a complaint need to be filed?

A complaint must be filed 180 days after the facts constituting the matter complained of could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, or within 180 days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later. Read NAR’s full FAQ’s regarding the Code of Ethics changes.