Code of ethics: a century at work

One difference between a real estate licensee who is a Realtor and other licensees is that Realtors subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Adopted in 1913, the code turns 100 this year. While it has evolved with the industry during the past century, it still contains the core values and commitments to excellence that all Realtors aspire to meet.

Lance Evans

Moe Veissi, 2012 National Association of Realtors president, recently explained the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent this way: “The term Realtor is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a licensed real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR),” said Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., Miami. “Only members of NAR can call themselves Realtors, and as a condition of membership, Realtors subscribe to NAR’s strict code of ethics. Realtors are the heart of the deal, and the code of ethics is our guiding principle.”

All Realtors must complete continuing education classes in ethics at least every four years as a condition of membership. In fact, 2012 marked the end of the latest quadrennial cycle. During the training, Realtors learn about how the code identifies professional responsibilities owed to clients, customers, other Realtors and the general public and how it is applies in real-world situations.

NAR was the second trade or business group in the country to adopt mandatory ethical standards. At the time, there were no real estate license laws. The code formed the basis for many state license laws and regulations. It continues to be a cited as a standard today.

Some 100 years later, a variety of laws and regulations govern real estate at the local, state and national levels. Gary Thomas, 2013 NAR president was asked why he feels that the code of ethics is still relevant. He replied, “The code is a living document. Real estate is a dynamic business and I believe the law and regulation will never replace the code. So long as we, as Realtors, remain firm in our commitment to serve the public, the code will evolve and remain significant.”

A copy of the ethics code can be found at


On Dec. 13, the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors held a recognition and awards ceremony during its annual holiday party at the Black River Valley Club. A highlight was when Lori Gervera, broker-owner of Lori Gervera Real Estate, was named Realtor of the Year. This is the association’s top honor with nominations solicited from membership.

Lori began her career in real estate in 1983 as a licensed saleswoman with Hopkins Homes, Watertown. She briefly left real estate, working as a mortgage originator for Key Bank, before returning in 1987 with Coldwell Banker Rimada Realty. She earned an Associate Broker’s License in 1990 and started Lori Gervera Real Estate in 1993, adding Lori Gervera Productions, a home staging company, in 2006. She holds three designations: Accredited Buyer’s Representative, Graduate Realtors Institute, and Accredited Staging Professional. She serves on the association’s Multiple Listing Service Committee, and has been on its board of directors and a variety of committees throughout the years as well as being a member of the Tri-County Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors.

She sits on the Watertown City Planning Board, is a member of the local chapter of Business Networking International, volunteers at Immaculate Heart Central Schools, and serves on the flower committee at Rodman’s Fairview Cemetery.

In nominating her, members from other real estate offices described her as “a class act, professional, intelligent, a motivator,” and “someone who has an excitement for the real estate profession.” A mother of three, Lori commented that she felt this was the highest honor she could receive short of mother of the year.

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Lance M. Evans is executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors and the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. He has lived in the north country since 1985. Contact him at His column appears monthly in NNY Business.