Though not all real estate agents are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), those who do join the group agree to abide by a code of ethics. That code essentially stipulates that Realtors deal with all parties of a transaction honestly.
Under the code, the Realtor is obligated to put the clients' interests ahead of his own. He or she is also required to make full disclosure about the problems with a property and be truthful in advertising.
The code of ethics has some teeth; local boards governed by the NAR enforce the provisions. Penalties can include a $5,000 fine, a one-year suspension from the association or a three-year expulsion. How frequently this happens is unclear. Because local boards handle enforcement actions, no national statistics on penalties against Realtors are available [source: National Association of Realtors].