Realtor with a Capital “R”

The State of Oregon requires Realtors to take 30 hours of very specific continuing education to be re-licensed every two years. And the National Association of Realtors requires that every four years Realtors must take a class on the Realtor Code of Ethics.

I’ve taken this class quite a few times. There is very little variation. To be a Realtor, that is with a capital “R”, a licensee must adhere to the Code of Ethics. I belong to one of the very few vocations that actually has a code of ethics. I think it goes without saying that it shouldn’t be necessary, but it is. And I am very proud of my profession that we have taken this position to maintain fair dealings and integrity.

Oregon has a pretty interesting history on this front. Oregon was the very first state in the United States to adopt a code of ethics on July 29th, 1913. So it isn’t just the bottle bill with which we have led the Nation.

The code has 17 Articles that stipulate fair dealings with fellow Realtors, with the our clients, and with the public. Each local real estate board is charged with enforcing the code of ethics. Yes, Realtors are held accountable.

Think about it, real estate involves the most important financial dealings that most people make within their lives. It must be handled with ethics.

My favorite part of the Code of Ethics is the preamble. I’d like to share with you just a sample:

“Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization. Realtors should recognize that the interests of the nation and its citizens require the highest and best use of the land and the widest distribution of land ownership. They require the creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.”

And that is just the beginning. It is a beautifully written document and a standard that I am proud of in my profession.


Realtor 101

One of the most basic components of being a good Realtor is understand just who I work for. As I work with a client I find myself going back to this concept again and again. Let’s face it, a real estate transaction requires a tremendous amount of negotiation. For both the buyer and the seller, the sale is likely one of the largest and most important financial endeavors that they will do. So it has to be done right, and to their satisfaction. What I want has pretty much nothing to do with it.

So think about that. A Realtor is in a job where what they want is not important.

Fiduciary Duty
Fiduciary duty is the relationship that exists when one person puts faith and trust into another person to act on their behalf. Realtors have fiduciary duty to their clients. This is such an important element in real estate.

In a transaction I find myself thinking about my clients and their needs constantly. Will this be good for them? Will this help? Is this what they want? Often it means telling them hard information that I know will likely make them not want a house. It can mean causing a transaction to fail so that we go out and begin again. That is not necessarily good for me, but it is certainly good for my client. It’s the right thing to do.

Real Estate Agency
In Oregon we have buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, and dual agents. This was not always the case. Prior to about 1994, all Realtors worked for the seller. So even when I worked with buyers showing them houses, writing up an offer, and negotiating repairs, I was really working for the seller. It was strange.

The advent of buyer’s agency allowed Realtors to work exclusively for the buyer. This means that the Realtor who is a buyer’s agent is committed to the best interests of the buyer. It also allowed seller’s agents to do the same for the seller.

We also have what is called dual agency. This happens when a Realtor is working with a buyer who wants to buy one of that Realtors listings. In this circumstance, the Realtor would be representing both the buyer and the seller. This can only happen if both the buyer and the seller give their approval. The Fiduciary duty does not change. A dual agent must still maintain confidences about things like price and work to see to the best interests of both clients. This does not happen very often. I think in my 24 years as a Realtor I’ve done it half a dozen times.

Dual agency can also happen when a buyer’s agent sells a house that is listed by another Realtor in their office. This is because most Realtors do work in offices with multiple agents who are supervised by a Principal Broker. That Principal Broker reviews all of the paperwork of every transaction and offers supervision and guidance to the Realtors in that office. So the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent remain just that, but the Principal Broker becomes a dual agent.

Please forgive me if this is all pretty dry. It’s the sort of thing that is not particularly exciting. But I think it is incredibly important and one of the backbones of my career.

Have a great day and thanks for reading the blotter.

Lake Oswego Open Houses 8/22/10

I can’t believe I’m saying this but the cooler weather feels great after weeks of 90 to 100 degrees! Nice weather for browsing Open Houses too.

There are 26 homes held Open Sunday according to RMLS.

Price Ranges:

Three are under $300,000.

Six are between $300,000 and $500,000.

Seven are between $500,000 and $700,000.

Four more are from $700,000 to a million.

Five are at a million or over (c’mon… I’m calling $999,000 a million : )

Somewhere in this bunch may be the home you’ve been looking for…  and there’s still time before the start of the school year!

Drop by my Open House on Lamont Way and say hello from 1:00 till 3:30.  I’d love to meet you.

Address L/Price # Beds # Baths Total SF Style Time
29 GREENRIDGE CT $249,000 3 2 1596 CONDO 1-4PM
4201 COLLINS WAY $279,000 3 2 1230 DETACHD 1-3PM
2245 GLEN HAVEN RD $299,900 3 1.1 1276 DETACHD 12-2PM
3269 PHYLLIS CT $329,900 3 1.2 1711 DETACHD 1:30-3:30PM
4840 LAMONT WAY $335,000 3 2 1793 DETACHD 1-3:30PM
10 PREAKNESS CT $359,900 4 2.1 2270 TOWNHM 1-3PM
138 KINGSGATE RD $379,900 3 2.1 1600 DETACHD 12-2PM
1462 GREENTREE CIR $389,900 4 2.1 2507 DETACHD 1-4PM
2 BARTOK PL $395,000 4 2.1 2332 DETACHD 1-4PM
19415 SW DOGWOOD CT $519,900 5 3 3517 DETACHD 1-5PM
19319 SW DOGWOOD CT $519,900 4 2.1 3105 DETACHD 1-5PM
19245 SW MEGLY CT $579,900 5 3 3490 DETACHD 1-5PM
13644 TWIN CREEK LN $589,899 4 2.1 2758 DETACHD 1-3PM
1278 HIDE A WAY LN $599,000 4 2.1 2700 DETACHD 2-4PM
3943 TEMPEST DR $639,000 4 2.1 3714 DETACHD 1-3PM
5511 FIELDSTONE CT $695,000 4 2.1 3032 DETACHD 1-3PM
14136 HEATHROW LN $699,000 4 2.1 2955 DETACHD 12-2PM
5533 FIELDSTONE CT $715,000 4 2.1 3112 DETACHD 1-3PM
2469 MARYLHAVEN PL $794,500 4 3.2 5582 DETACHD 12-3PM
330 NORTHSHORE RD $799,000 4 3 3324 DETACHD 1-4PM
4158 CASEY CT $799,000 4 2.1 3385 DETACHD 1-4PM
16686 MAPLE CIR $999,000 3 3.2 3311 DETACHD 12-3PM
18209 SIENA DR $1,097,000 5 3.1 3839 DETACHD 1-3PM
18246 BELLA TERRA DR $1,194,000 4 3.1 4196 DETACHD 1-3PM
1808 RIDGE POINTE DR $1,269,000 5 4.1 4155 DETACHD 1-3PM
2572 GLEN EAGLES PL $2,050,000 5 4.2 6490 DETACHD 1-3PM

It’s Spring Break! Where Teens Go in LO…

westend-bldgLake Oswego is known far & wide for its family-friendly environment and involved citizenry. The schools here are excellent, there are clubs and outlets for all kinds of interests, and of course a myriad of programs for kids of all ages.  I wanted to take a moment to highlight a terrific resource called the “McKenzie Lounge for Teens”.

bright-roomThe McKenzie Lounge is located in the West End Building at 4101 Kruse Way.  The Youth Action Council, YAC, and other generous donors have made sure that it is packed with the kinds of things teens find inviting, including: a pool table, foosball table, ping pong table, TV’s, couches, comfy chairs, bean bag chairs, video games, refreshments and plenty more.  It was designed specifically for teens by Janet Bocci, as well as YAC and parks and recreation staff members.

tablesAccording to the city’s website, drop-in hours are 6-9PM Monday thru Friday for all teens ages 12-18 who want to come and hang out with friends and/or meet new ones. After school it is open to Jr. High teens from 3-6PM for the After School Program. Since its inception in the Fall of 2007, it has hosted over 3,000 visitors, not including special events like Java Jam, LakeFest and others (figures as of November 2008).  The Lounge is also the magnet meeting place for all teen groups such as YAC, the JavaJam Planning Committee, The After School Activity Program (ASAP) and clubs from both high schools including Ping Pong Club and Reflections.

couches1The best thing about the McKenzie Lounge however, is that teens actually report enjoying it! For instance, during the election, the Lounge hosted a series of “Debate ’08” nights featuring the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates, opportunities for lively discussion, as well as food and extra credits from social studies teachers. The debate series attendance reportedly totaled 115 students, drop-in attendance is reportedly growing by 25% every three months, and teens have been quoted as saying that the McKenzie Lounge ranks right up there with Taco Bell and the video game store as cool hang-out choices.

With Spring Break upon us, upcoming activities include March Madness games and March’s Java Jam featuring two musical guests and YAC’s “Project Runway” contest.

In addition to the ongoing happenings at McKenzie Lounge, Lake Oswego offers more fun teen activities this Spring Break including: Ski and Snowboard Camp at Timberline Ski Resort, Glow-In-The-Dark-Bowling, Rock Climbing and a Portland Lumberjacks field trip. Check out the city’s website (link above) for more information!

Real Estate “No No’s”

nono1A while back Dianne wrote a post on the Realtors Code of Ethics.  I loved that post because I don’t think most people are aware of all the standards to which Realtors are held.  It really is great to be in a profession where we are mandated to treat each other and the general public with respect. That mandate then becomes a part of our culture. I notice it in the conversations I have with other Realtors.  There definitely is a flavor of deliberate respect that is not always the experience for most of us in the day-to-day “non-real estate”  wider world of affairs.

I read something in the recent REALTOR magazine published by the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors (PMAR), and written by Jo Becker of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon on subject matter along the same lines that made me think you’d find it interesting. This is regarding words Realtors may and may not use in promoting properties, and the overall guidelines of the Fair Housing Act.

HUD is the federal regulatory body with the power to enforce the Fair Housing Act.  Generally speaking, the Fair Housing Act is in place to ensure that discrimination and something called “steering”, among other things, do not inhibit peoples’ right to live wherever the heck they want and are qualified to. It is also set up to ensure that the public receives information about housing that is fair and as free as possible of inaccurate and/or unduly influencing or discriminatory language.  “Steering” is essentially trying to influence buyers to live in, or not live in, certain areas based on something other than the buyers’ own parameters for what they want in a new home & neighborhood.  Basically, a Realtor is to supply a buyer with options for potential homes based on the information a buyer supplies to the Realtor regarding their wants & needs.  A Realtor will often refer a buyer in the overall Portland area to this website: where the buyer can enter the address of any property and view all kinds of facts on a property including statistical, demographic and crime information. Buyers are ultimately choosing a home that fits their particular needs, and Realtors are there to assist with service, information and real estate expertise.

The Fair Housing Council of Oregon’s website states plainly:

The Fair Housing Council of Oregon (FHCO) is a civil rights organization with a mission of eliminating housing discrimination through enforcement and education across Oregon and southwest Washington.

We promote equal access to housing by providing education, outreach, technical assistance, and enforcement opportunities specifically related to federal, state, and local fair housing laws. These laws protect against illegal housing discrimination based on “protected class status.”

The federally protected classes are:
race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability

There are additional state and local protected classes.

When a Realtor enters listing information into RMLS, it is scanned for potential “no no’s” that are most always either unintentional or erroneous, i.e., as the article I mention elaborates- the RMLS program may highlight the word “white” for the Realtor’s attention when it is only being used as a description for a picket fence etc.  A real human at RMLS who understands context always reviews these issues, according to the article. There is no “list” of unnacceptable words as many people believe.  It’s all about intention, and about upholding our highest societal values… as well as the law.  Some terms can seem to be either benign or on the edge but for their context, for instance, the term “Walk-In Closet” is commonly understood to describe a well-known feature in many homes.  As long as the Realtor is not trying to imply a limit on access to someone who is not ambulatory this term is not a problem. “View Property” falls into the same category as long as no one is limiting access to the “view property” to sighted individuals only. The same goes for “Mother-In-Law Suite” and “Bachelor Apartment” according to the article. Where it can become trickier is with words like “near”.  Often a house will be described as “Near shopping, transit” etc., which is OK.  What is not OK, due to implications that certain people may or may not be welcome in that neighborhood, are things like: “Near ABC Mosque” or “Close to the XYZ Church” or “Near the LMN Jewish Community Center”.  It is also not considered proper to refer to specific schools due to the potential for using this technique to promote some schools over others for the same kinds of reasons. It is generally considered all right to refer to school districts as long as this is done consistently throughout a Realtor’s listings.

The article refers to a few blatantly illegal and discriminatory statements that have evidently actually been published on a popular local online service. These are obviously examples of absolute “no no’s” and you will not see these or anything like them on RMLS:

  • “No minorities”,
  • “African Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me so that won’t work out”,
  • “Ladies, please rent from me”,
  • “Requirements: Clean, Godly Christian Male”,
  • “Will allow only single occupancy”,
  • “No children”,
  • “Christians only”.

These are all clear violations of the Fair Housing Act.  Fair Housing Act laws apply in newspapers, flyers, yard signs, verbal statements, and online advertising among other instances & places.

For questions about Fair Housing Laws visit:

or call:   503 223 8197   or   1-800 424 3247.

Code of Ethics

While having lunch with friends recently one woman was telling us about the difficulty she had with some of her co-workers. I guess there was a good deal of gossiping and even some back stabbing that went on behind people’s backs. My initial reaction to her story was dismay over her situation and then personal gratitude that I don’t work in such circumstances. And then it occurred to me why I don’t have that sort of work environment. It’s the code of ethics! As a Realtor, I must adhere to a code of ethics that requires fair dealings with other Realtors. I simply am not allowed to say bad things about them. It then occurred to me that the general public probably doesn’t know about the Realtor Code of Ethics. At this time of year, when our thoughts are turned to family, friends, and religious celebrations, it seems appropriate to tell you about the Code of Ethics.

In order to be a Realtor in the State of Oregon you must agree to adhere to the Code of Ethics. Both the Oregon Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors require abiding by the Code of Ethics. It is possible to be a real estate agent without being a Realtor, but it is not possible to be a Realtor without meeting the requirements of the Code of Ethics. A Realtor is required to take training on the Code of Ethics every 4 years to make certain that he or she remembers and is familiar with this code. What is it? In a nutshell, it pretty much boils down to the golden rule. Be fair and honest in all of your dealings with clients and with other Realtors, just as you want them to be fair and honest in their dealings with you.

The Code of Ethics is actually a rather beautiful document. The Preamble begins “Under all is the land. Upon its wise utilization and widely allocated ownership depend the survival and growth of free institutions and of our civilization.” It is well written, well thought out, and something that can be applied to life as a whole. Besides the Preamble, there are 3 sections: Duties to Clients and Customers, Duties to the Public, and Duties to Realtors. Each section contains guidelines for fair and honest business practices, honesty in advertising, as well as professionalism and protection when dealing with the public. This code serves as a promise to the public that when dealing with a real estate agent that is a Realtor you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all of your dealings. How cool is that? Don’t you wish every profession had a Code of Ethics? I do.

Not all real estate agents are Realtors. So when choosing a professional to help you to buy or to sell a home, be certain to find out if they are a Realtor. If they have the Realtor designation, you can gain assurance that your transaction will be handled by someone who adheres to the Realtor Code of Ethics.

If you’d like to read the Code of Ethics, here is a link to the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors where a copy is available: click here.