One hundred years have passed since a key document in the REALTOR® organization’s history first made its debut. Written in 1913, the Code of Ethics was seen as a declaration of the real estate industry’s principles and beliefs, a “golden thread” uniting those devoted to raising the standards of professionalism and service in real estate.
The Code is a living document that undergoes regular revision to keep it updated and relevant as the real estate industry evolves, so today’s Code of Ethics looks much different from the one that was adopted in 1913. Even so, REALTORS® are often surprised to see that the words “Under all is the land,” the familiar opening of the Code’s preamble, are nowhere to be found in the original version.
So where did the preamble come from, and who wrote it?
The Code of Ethics was over a decade old before the preamble was introduced. In 1924, the National Association’s committee assigned with revising and modernizing the Code decided that the rules should have an introduction, and prepared two versions of a preamble for consideration.
The first version, written by A. S. Adams, a REALTOR® from Atlanta, GA, took the form of a straightforward personal pledge: “I, a member of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, accept as the primary requirement for engaging in the Real Estate Business that my first duty is to the public whom I propose to serve, and the protection of whose interests must always be my first consideration….”
Adams’ preamble was not nearly as poetic and visionary as the second version presented before the committee. Written by the committee’s chairman, a prominent REALTOR® and Presbyterian minister from Tacoma, WA, named Arthur H. Barnhisel, this preamble took a different tack, “setting forth the social responsibility of the association and of the local real estate boards who make up its membership.”
With its inspirational portrayal of the nation’s land and the REALTOR®’s role in ensuring its “highest use” and “widest distribution,” Barnhisel’s preamble easily won the committee’s vote. With little debate and only a few minor edits, the preamble was included along with several other revisions to the Code that were accepted by the National Association’s Board of Directors at its June 1924 meeting in Washington, DC.
As far as we’ve been able to find in the NAR Archives, Barnhisel never explained how he came up with his version of the preamble or revealed his sources of inspiration for the language. Among REALTORS®, though, the preamble quickly became the Code’s best-known feature and was proudly displayed on the walls and in the windows of real estate offices across the country. By 1943, NAR president Cyrus Crane Willmore declared in a speech before the association’s Board of Directors: “Property ownership is fundamental to our way of life. The first five words of our Code of Ethics should be impressed upon the minds of every man, woman and child in our country. They are, ‘Under all is the Land.’”
The Code of Ethics was revised again in 1955, and it included, among other changes, a rewritten preamble. The new preamble tried to preserve the ideals expressed in the original, using modernized language that was more in tune with the post-war 1950s.
REALTORS® were largely unhappy with the changes made to their beloved preamble, though, and in 1961 the National Association took steps to return it to its original form as written by Arthur H. Barnhisel. “A return to this wording is proposed because of its superior phrasing,” explained the report to the Board of Directors.
With the exception of those six years, the preamble remained exactly as Barnhisel wrote it for nearly seven decades. The preamble as we know it today took shape in 1994, when the first six Articles of the Code were incorporated into the preamble, adding paragraphs regarding the REALTOR®’s obligation to share their professional knowledge and stressing the importance of maintaining a spirit of cooperation with other real estate professionals.
Celebrating the Association Executives Committee’s 100th birthday
This weekend, REALTOR® association executives (AEs) from around the country will gather at the 2012 A.E. Institute for a few days of networking, professional development programs, and a chance to learn about key industry trends and issues.
As it happens, this year’s conference takes place in Louisville, KY, which makes it a particularly auspicious occasion: 100 years ago in the same city, REALTOR® AEs gathered together for the very first time.
Members of the National Association met in Louisville on June 20, 1912, for their fifth annual convention. At this convention, the local and state association secretaries (as AEs were called at the time) for the first time had been allowed two hours to themselves. Around thirty secretaries participated, with R. Bruce Douglas (executive secretary of the National Association from 1909-1911) serving as chairman. The group spent their first hour at the Hotel Watterson, dining on chicken broth, boiled halibut and vanilla ice cream and listening to presentations on topics that would be familiar to AEs today: how to attract new members, ways to get members to attend regular meetings, managing the MLS, and working with the media.
The secretaries spent their second hour together enjoying the Ohio River views aboard the steamboat Constitution. The group decided to create a formal organization for board secretaries, and even crafted a constitution while sailing on the Constitution. The stated purpose of the new Association of Secretaries of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges was “to afford for its members better opportunity for mutual acquaintance and to hold an annual conference.” Dues were set at $1 per year.
Since that day in June 1912, the association executives’ group has been a constant and influential presence, strengthening ties between the local, state, and national REALTOR® associations. The organization formed in 1912 has gone through many changes over the years, becoming the Secretaries’ Division in 1923, then the Executive Officers Council in 1958, and finally the Association Executives Committee (AEC) in 1993.
In 1921, NAR president Irving B. Hiett dropped in for a visit at the Secretaries’ annual meeting. “I was rather surprised to find the things they discussed there,” Hiett later reported to NAR’s Executive Committee, “surprised at the interest they were taking in the things that are of value not only to their local boards but to the Association as a whole. I want to tell you that I think [the Secretaries’ group] is one of the most valuable assets we have.”
Here’s to a very happy 100th birthday for the AEC, and many more to come.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about New Year’s resolutions. They’re an opportunity for thoughtful reflection and personal reform for some, or a review to undertake daily instead of annually, and still others see them as an exercise in futility. Whatever your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions, we present two here for every REALTOR® to keep in 2012.
First, though, we’ve set aside a collection of over 80 ebook titles to help fill your own list and realize your goals in 2012. You’ll find advice on everything from learning a new language to taking control of your finances, travelling the world to reducing stress. The eBooks Collection on REALTOR.org is a free service for NAR members — browse the site, borrow a title or two, and download them to your favorite device.
The first resolution every REALTOR® should put on their list this year: NAR requires every REALTOR® to complete their Code of Ethics training every four years — and Dec. 31, 2012 is the next deadline. If you haven’t done it already, take some time to get it out of the way well before the deadline. The online course is free and available anytime, or contact your local association of REALTORS® to inquire about Ethics training in your area.
And the second resolution: Seven decades ago, the songwriter Woody Guthrie jotted down his own list of resolutions for the year 1942 in his notebook. It’s a curious list of 33 resolutions, combining the easily attainable (“Change socks”) with more ambitious goals (“Love everybody”). After the wild ride we’ve had in 2011, and the vast array of predictions for 2012, #20 in Woody’s list is one for everyone to adopt as their own: ”Dream good.”
by Russell Carlson, Information Specialist
From the NAR Archives: Virginia Grant recognized the woman sitting in a large pink Cadillac in front of the trendy Lowenstein’s East Department store in early 1957. Grant had seen the woman’s photograph in the newspaper and recognized her. It was Elvis Presley’s mother.
The Memphis REALTOR® (and member of the Women’s Council of the National Association of Real Estate Boards) engaged in some friendly conversation with Mrs. Presley, and was able to confirm a rumor heard in Memphis real estate circles. The Presleys wanted to buy, perhaps “a few acres with a large house, not too far out of town.”
Grant suggested a property of thirteen acres on Highway 51 and mentioned it to the lady. The Presleys were pressed for time. That night they would be leaving for Hollywood to visit their son for a month. Mr. Presley was in Lowenstein’s purchasing luggage for the trip. “Would you give me your card and write the address and a bit of a description on the back, so I can tell Elvis when we get to Hollywood?” Grant was happy to do so.
A month later the phone rang in her office. “Hello Miss Grant, this is Presley. Wonder if it would be convenient to show me the property you told Mom and Dad about?” Miss Grant made the time to do so. A six figure price was eventually arranged by Virginia and another REALTOR® who worked for the owners of Graceland.
“But for the Grace of God,” she said in the September 1957 issue of the Women’s Council newsletter, What Women Realtors Are Doing, “I might never have been at Lowenstein’s East and met the lovely Mrs. Presley, in exactly the way in which I described to you.”
Pop-up stores are gaining in popularity with both small businesses and property managers, says the Wall Street Journal: “Large fashion retailers and high-end designers have long demonstrated the success of the pop-up model for generating buzz about new brands and designers. But now, small businesses in a wide range of industries are testing new retail concepts and markets by leasing commercial space on a short-term basis, in some cases for just a few weeks.” The July-August issue of Inc. Magazine offers some practical tips for making a pop-up store successful.
Is Google losing its edge as the be-all-and-end-all of search engines? Maybe, according to CNN/Business Insider’s analysis of the Bing/Google smackdown. Google has adopted some of Bing’s innovations, such as photography on the opening page. Bing now incorporates Twitter results in their searches, and Google followed quickly also adding Twitter. In contrast to Google, Bing groups search results by category, such as Web, News, Wikipedia, Blogs and Images, and provides a list of related terms that might be useful. Google lists results links and offers different ways of searching in the left column, such as date of results, sites with images and related searches. Try it and see which search engine works best for you.
The Wall Street Journal has been running an interesting series this week, What They Know, on internet tracking and online privacy. Minority Report is closer than you think. Most of the series is available for free on the journal’s website. The step-by-step guide on how to strengthen your online privacy is especially useful.
As a good example of “what they know”, CNET’s Technically Incorrect reports how the town of Riverhead, NY, scoured images from Google Earth to find unpermitted swimming pools — and collected $75,000 in fines from the offending homeowners.
And last but certainly not least for this week, Realtors Property Resource™ (RPR) is wrapping up its beta testing and preparing to launch in a few weeks. The RPR Blog is a great place to find out what RPR is (and isn’t) and keep up with its progress.
It was cold and snowy in Quebec City during NAR’s Association Executives Institute a few weeks ago, but the ideas were in full bloom in the convention hall. This edition of Info Central’s Video Update features two of the many dynamic speakers who took time to summarize their AEI sessions for us: Clareity Consulting‘s Matt Cohen on the future of the MLS, and Michael Staver‘s plan of “attack” for staying on calm and cool under pressure.
One resource we here in Information Central go to again and again on Realtor.org is the biannual Legal Scan, but not very many REALTORS® know what it is or how to find it. For our April edition, Information Central’s Video Update asked NAR Associate Counsel Finley Maxson to tell us about this valuable source for legal and liability trends in the real estate industry.
What’s the connection between three Winnipeg REALTORS®’ unfortunate voyage on the Titanic and the evolution of NAR’s Code of Ethics? Info Central’s Video Update solves the mystery with a visit to the NAR Archives.