The National Association of REALTORS® is America's largest trade association
Members are residential and commercial real estate brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, and others engaged in the real estate industry.
Having a real estate license does not require a licensee to be a Realtor® member of the National Association of Realtors®. If the head a real estate firm is a Realtor®, all the licensees working in that office generally are also Realtors®.
By virtue of their membership, all Realtors® subscribe to the NAR Code of Ethics. Licensees who are not Realtors® are not bound by the national Code, only by the basic laws and regulations of their state real estate regulatory agency.
Regulation of professions generally is a State, not a Federal responsibility. As to real estate licensees, the Real Estate Commission establishes educational requirements, manages licensing, investigates and disciplines misconduct, and oversees a fund to compensate victims. See the page linked in this paragraph for details.
There is a network of state and local Boards of Realtors® across the country. The Alaska Association of Realtors® is our state Board; there is also an Anchorage Board of Realtors®, the Valley Board of Realtors®, and local boards elsewhere in the state.
Enforcement of the Code of Ethics is managed by a disciplinary process that can be initiated by one Realtor® against another, or by anyone from the general public who files a complaint with a local Board. All procedures are confidential. Where violations are found, the common remedies are educational course on the part of the Code that was violated, and possible fines and, rarely, suspension or termination of the Realtor’s® membership.
Local Boards also offer mediation services to the public. A skilled mediator who is a member of the Board works with the parties to help them come to an agreement that settles the matter without the cost and bother of further legal proceedings. A common dispute seen in mediation would grow from a purchase and sale agreement that was terminated for some reason, and where the distribution of the earnest money is in dispute.
Realtors® also pledge to keep fee disputes out of court and submit them to binding arbitration by the local Board.
Niel Thomas is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Anchorage Board of Realtors®. He has served as a mediator, and as a hearing panel member for ethics and arbitration cases, often as chair. For 2015, in recognition of “Outstanding Service and Contributions” Niel was named Realtor® of the Year.