Chicago Association of Realtors continues to promote ethics violations

by Joe Zekas on 4/15/12

A week ago we wondered whether the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) was fostering trademark fraud. CAR has since removed the offending use of the federal registered trademark symbol from the web page we questioned.

In that week-ago post we mentioned that we had previously questioned what we called CAR’s “cavalier attitude toward the misuse of professional designations by its members.”

That mention was intended as and should have served as a warning flag to CAR to check whether its instructor was entitled to use the professional designations claimed in the above screen cap from the web page in question. We were testing the seriousness of CAR’s commitment to its own ethical standards.

Perhaps CAR did check and Marki Lemons was listed as being entitled to use the Quality Service Certification (QSC) and Seniors Real Estate Specialists (SRES) designations at some point within the past week. She’s not, as of this writing, listed in the QSC or SRES databases and wasn’t as of a week ago.

The takeaway for consumers: CAR isn’t serious about its or its members’ commitment to professional ethics. If it were, would it honor and promote members who disregard its Code of Ethics, and enable violations on its own website?

In my opinion, the Code of Ethics is window dressing only at the CAR level, and CAR does a radical disservice to the many members of CAR who do take their ethical obligations very seriously. Before hiring a real estate agent, check whether he or she is entitled to use the professional designations they claim. If they’re not, it’s a warning flag that you can’t expect professional representation from that agent.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Marki Lemons April 15, 2012 at 6:32 PM

At the time that web page was published I had earned the QSC® (2008) and the SRES® (2008) and was an active member. It is impossible to go back and delete or change all information on the internet that contains them (as most sites we do not have access to). A quick search revealed 68 such websites that the information was on and cannot be changed. Since I have earned nineteen such designations/ certifications it is even harder to keep up with what requires an annual due and what does not.

I think it is unfair of you or anyone else to anticipate that an organization has time to do monthly updates to old posted information that at the time it was published was accurate. Even original copies of books go unchanged regardless to updates or changes.

In regards to your previous post, CAR changed the other information at my request based on the fact that I was ignorant about ®, TM, or RM. I hope as a result of your constant harassment that we develop new standards based on the time that an item was published. If I’m not mistaken that page was published in 2008 or 2009 and at the time it was accurate. The Chicago Association of REALTORS® would be one of numerous websites that would have the same information if posted from 2008-2010.

While doing your research why didn’t you mention that the page may be old or that you had found numerous other pages that had been updated and reflected a change? My correct email signature is below and is the current (April 15, 2012) information I use.

I’m still saving you a seat in an upcoming class as you should have firsthand information when saying anything negative about a class. By the way why didn’t you note that you have never taken the ADPR and you have no idea about the class and its content or if it is “junk”? That would be the ethical thing to do since you used offending language.

Marki Lemons-Ryhal
ABR, ABRM, ADPR, CNE, CRB, CRS, green, SFR , & MBA

Reply

Joe Zekas April 15, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Marki,

The page in question relates to courses that are being offered at future dates. Do you really know when it was last changed? Are you suggesting that CAR has no obligation to ensure that information is accurate on a page that’s updated periodically to supply current information? That you don’t either?

Glad to hear you requested the change. Any plans to remove the offending use of the mark registration symbol from your LinkedIn profile? Or is that beyond your control?

You’re aware that some of the designations you’ve earned and claimed require annual renewal to continue claiming them, but ask us to believe it’s too much of a bother to check – when your Code of Ethics specifically requires you to do so? And those organizations don’t send dues notices?

I know enough about foreclosures and short sales, Marki, to doubt I’d learn anything from taking your course. I could be wrong on that, but I very much doubt it. Give the seat to someone else.

Reply

Marki Lemons April 15, 2012 at 8:02 PM

I’m clear that the instructor Bio created above was created in 2008 and that the updated one reads ” has over a decade of experience”. I’m also clear that I do not claim any designation or certification that I have not renewed or earned. As a result of your post I’m sure every REALTOR organization will update the profile and/or Bio of each instructor and will take on the task to update every item previously created, that when created or published was accurate.

As a REALTOR member I think that is a horrible waste of my dues and the energy of the organization and I hope those that read this would not want their dues to pay for a task that when created was in compliance.

My mother told me “Marki go and get as many degrees as possible, it is the one thing no one can take from you and once you have earned it, it is yours for life with no renewals”. She was right and I’m a firm believer that you can always learn something new from anyone. Sorry to see we don’t share the same philosophy.

Reply

Eileen Romito April 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Joe sometimes I think you need to lay off a bit. Your incessant internet hunt of wrongdoers is overkill sometimes and is a turn off to many of your readers. I think you’ve already burnt your bridges on EveryBlock… don’t let it happen here too. I can’t believe you honestly think CAR does not promote ethics in the profession. If you think that CAR doesn’t have more important things to do than police every stupid designation that’s been posted by various CAR members on the internet, you’re sadly mistaken.

Reply

Joe Zekas April 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Eileen,

I’ve only suggested that CAR police its own site.

I’ll believe that CAR promotes ethics when it sets a better example on its own website.

Here’s the EveryBlock thread you’re likely referring to so that readers can make their own judgment on burned bridges. I received 9 Thanks in that thread. Only 3 other comments received Thanks, all from me – and one of those comments was yours.

Here’s the only other comment I’ve made at EveryBlock.

Reply

Eileen Romito April 16, 2012 at 5:47 PM

No, you specifically said “The takeaway for consumers: CAR isn’t serious about its or its members’ commitment to professional ethics.”. I think that’s a rather harsh and bold statement to make. That’s all.

Reply

Joe Zekas April 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Eileen,

I was responding to this statement by you:

“If you think that CAR doesn’t have more important things to do than police every stupid designation that’s been posted by various CAR members on the internet, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Reply

Jason April 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM

CAR and IDFPR don’t make any effort to police the profession. Take a look at this ad I ran across that was posted by American Realty Pros in the jobs section of Craigslist. http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/rej/2963604954.html They are looking for “runners” to show apartments. Its the big management companies that should be looking carefully at who they are working with to show their properties.

Reply

Joe Zekas April 17, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Jason,

I agree that the management companies need to step up.

The ad you linked makes no mention of the fact that the “runners” will have to be on 120-day permits and get licensed when that period expires.

Since the appointments are set for the runners, I doubt that they can legally be treated as independent contractors and not be subject to minimum wage laws and withholding, etc. laws. Perhaps some enterprising attorney can contribute to enforcement down the road.

Any “runners” or people who’ve interviewed able to chime in on this?

Reply

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