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Nearly three years after the National Association of Realtors passed a policy barring its members from using racist and discriminatory speech and behavior, a Realtor has begun calling out social media posts and comments he believes violate that policy on NAR’s own social media accounts and elsewhere.
The policy reads as follows: “Realtors must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
A Realtor accused of violating the policy would be charged under Article 10 of the Code of Ethics, which prohibits denying equal professional services to anyone in those protected classes.
The Realtor who created the accounts asked Inman to not reveal his identity due to fear of backlash, noting that he has been the recipient of a lot of vitriol when he’s spoken up about this issue before. He describes himself as a “straight white male” and is a real estate broker who has held leadership positions at his local and state Realtor associations as well as NAR.
He began posting on the TenDashFive accounts on June 11 after seeing Realtors posting what he saw as violations of NAR’s policy in reaction to Pride Month in obvious places that NAR, local Realtor associations, and brokerages could choose to police, but weren’t.
“Realtors think that a lot of hate speech doesn’t happen or it’s in the big dark corners of the internet,” he told Inman in a phone interview.
“But most of the hate speech that Realtors are using is out in very public places like on the social media posts of NAR and the associations and the big brokerages. It’s very frustrating that we have the hate speech rule, that not only is it not being enforced, but most of the hate speech is in very obvious places, and people are doing nothing about it.”
The Realtor posts TenDashFive calls out include those that equate members of the LGBTQ+ community with abusers who groom and sexualize children, deride Pride Month as celebrating “sexual deviance,” refer to a “satanic lgtbtqxyz agenda,” and consider being homophobic “normal,” among others.
Some of the posts TenDashFive has called out:
“You would think that whoever’s running these social media accounts would have the foresight to either limit comments or delete hateful comments as they come up, but instead, they’re just leaving them there and allowing back and forth fights that promote more hate speech,” the TenDashFive Realtor said.
“They’re allowing them to live there, which has the benefit of helping us identify who is using hate speech. But when you go to the National Association of Realtors Instagram page, it’s not a good look that it’s filled with a bunch of homophobic and transphobic comments.”
NAR enacted 10-5 in part because Realtor hate speech online was tarnishing the Realtor brand. What the TenDashFive Realtor really wants to see is enforcement of the 10-5 policy.
“Brokers need to be enforcing hate speech rules with their agents,” he said. “NAR needs to be enforcing the rules with their members.”
“We did tag a couple of associations in posts that their members used hate speech and tagged a couple of brokers but have not heard anything from any association or broker in reference to what we’ve posted,” he added, noting that the alleged hate speech had been left up by those associations and brokers.
Asked why he doesn’t make formal ethics complaints at the local associations, he said he wasn’t sure how a cross-jurisdictional ethics complaint would work when the person posting the hate speech isn’t part of his local association. But if he was able to submit such a complaint, he’s not sure if he would or not.
“Most people that have reported that they filed ethics complaints on hate speech issues, most of them have lost their complaints,” he said.
“If someone is using hate speech, it’s often they are in a location where other people are prone to using hate speech. So a professional ethics committee is likely to be filled with like-minded people to them. If it’s a rule they don’t agree with, they will find them not guilty.”
In an emailed statement, NAR encouraged anyone who believes that a Realtor has violated its code of ethics to file a complaint.
“Discriminatory conduct, including hate speech, is directly contrary to who Realtors are and should not be tolerated in any profession,” said NAR spokesperson Wes Shaw.
“We take any alleged violation of the Code of Ethics very seriously and remain steadfast in our commitment to enforcing the Code of Ethics. To that end, any individual may — and is strongly encouraged to — file an ethics complaint if they believe a member’s conduct violates the Code of Ethics.”
Shaw stressed that NAR does not enforce the code or decide whether social media posts violate 10-5 with limited exceptions.
“Enforcement of the Code of Ethics is the privilege and obligation of local or state associations, depending on the jurisdiction,” Shaw said.
“When a complaint is filed, the local association where the respondent holds membership administers that complaint. NAR does not enforce the Code of Ethics or determine whether statements made on social media violate Article 10 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 10-5, with the exception of the factual scenarios described in the Interpretations of the Code of Ethics, which are official National Association policy.
“Additionally, NAR has adopted an appendix to the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual that details appropriate interpretation of Standard of Practice 10-5.”
NAR did not respond to questions regarding whether NAR had taken any action as a result of TenDashFive pointing out potential violations; why NAR had left the comments potentially violating 10-5 up and without any response from NAR; whether 10-5 complaints can be filed anonymously; how NAR handles situations like the TenDashFive Realtor described, where a local ethics committee is filled with like-minded people who disagree with NAR’s 10-5 policy in the first place or with it being applied to protect certain groups of people, such as the LGBTQ+ community; or whether those who file 10-5 complaints in such places have any recourse.
NAR also did not respond when asked how many 10-5 complaints have been filed since the policy was enacted and how many have been found to have been valid.
Meanwhile, the TenDashFive Realtor is planning to keep the TenDashFive accounts going “indefinitely” and has asked followers to send examples of hate speech in real estate to ExposeHate@TenDashFive.com.
The TenDashFive Realtor told Inman he is a member of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, but the Alliance was not involved with TenDashFive, which the Alliance confirmed to Inman. In the past year, the Alliance has been calling for NAR to use its own Article 10 to evaluate which politicians it supports or withholds support from if they do something discriminatory.
“We continue to call upon NAR, the individual Realtor Associations, and their RPACs to utilize our Article 10 Rule in determining which candidates should be funded,” Erin Morrison, the Alliance’s 2023 national president, told Inman in an emailed statement.