December, 2001
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Ethics: Doing the right thing


How other associations have structured their ethical framework

“Whether an association embraces a trade or a profession, whether it represents people’s hobbies or livelihoods, whether it involves a handful of quiet enthusiasts or millions of engaged activists, it has one element in common with other associations. It is the standard-bearer for some activity that its members find meaningful, satisfying, and worth preserving. Like it or not, the association itself becomes the nexus for ethical guidance. It is very much in any association’s interest to exemplify high ethical standards that can be emulated throughout the field.”
– Association Management Magazine, October 1999

There’s no doubt about it – ethics is a hot topic today. Ethics experts at the Ethics Resource Center in Washington, DC contend the general public is becoming increasingly interested in ethics. The public is holding businesses, organizations and associations more accountable for their actions. Integrity, loyalty and honesty are characteristics the public demands from the people they do business with, whether it’s on a daily basis or sporadically through-out the year. It appears more organizations and associations are heeding the call – adopting and enforcing a code of ethics.

Here are how four associations that have been in existence for a number of years approach the issue.

Appraisal Institute, Chicago
The Appraisal Institute has educated real estate appraisers for more than 60 years, and is a  leader in residential and commercial appraisal education, research, publishing, and professional membership designation programs. It has more than 19,000 members and 112 chapters across the country.

Code of Ethics: Yes

Ethics Committee:

Code revisions:
Changes were made to the current code in December 1999. Modifications are made as need dictates.
Code compliance: Each member of the Appraisal Institute is required to conduct his or her activities in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Professional Ethics. If it’s determined a Member has violated the requirements of the  Code or Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, remedial or disciplinary actions are taken.

Ethics training: All members of the Institute are required to take a Standards course, which covers ethics, every five years. Some states require the course be taken every three years.

National Association of Review Appraisers & Mortgage Underwriters (NARA/MU), Alexandria, Minnesota

Established in 1975, the NARA/MU is a non-profit organization dedicated to professional standards and promoting ongoing education in the fields of appraisal and mortgage underwriting. There are 1,500 current members representing international corporations, banks, thrifts, insurance companies, accounting firms, law firms, and private real estate companies.

Code of Ethics: Yes

Ethics Committee: Yes

Code revisions:
Changes are made as laws or codes dictate. Last revision was less than a year ago.

Code compliance: A Compliance Appraisal Review Board is in place.

Ethics training: Completion of the Uniform Standard Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) training course is required. The course covers ethics.

National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Chicago

Founded in 1908, NAR® has more than 750,000 members. The association is composed of Realtors®, who are involved in residential and commercial estate as brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in the real estate industry.

Code of Ethics: Yes

Ethics Committee: Yes

Code revisions: Updated annually

Code compliance: Realtors® identify and take steps, through enforcement of their Code of Ethics and by assisting appropriate regulatory bodies, to eliminate practices which may damage the public or which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession. (From the Preamble section of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors®.)

Ethics training: As of 2001, NAR® requires its members to take a Code of Ethics training course every four years.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Washington, DC

Established in 1942, NAHB is a federation of more than 800 state and local builders’ associations throughout the United States. Its mission is to enhance the climate for housing and the building industry, and to promote policies that will keep housing a national priority.

Code of Ethics: Yes

Ethics Committee: Yes

Code revisions: Changes were made to the current code last year. Modifications are made as needed.

Code compliance: No formal compliance measures

Ethics training: No formal training in place

Meeting the challenge

It appears associations are meeting the ethics challenge through programs that are specific and practical for the professions and trades they serve.

Note: Information for this article came from association Web sites, association information specialists or ethics committee representatives.

The ASHI Reporter will publish a variety of articles on business ethics, and will alert readers to additional sources of information, such as The Ethics Resource Center.