The California Association of Realtors is implementing a new policy: It’s publishing on its website a monthly summary of disciplinary actions by the California Department of Real Estate (the rough equivalent of DPOR and VREB here in Virginia).

In California (as, I suspect, most states), that information is publically available. CAR is just making it easier to find. The change is a result by an association ethics task force that recommended, among other things, that "Punishment for unethical behavior should be published and significant enough to deter future unethical behavior."

In Virginia, that information is also available, but it’s not quite so easy to find. VREB used to run the list quarterly in its "VREB Speaking" newsletter, but that hasn’t been published in a while.

(Instead, the easiest way we’ve found is to go to the License Lookup page and search on "Real Estate," sorting the results by date. Clunky, but mostly effective.)

But California is doing more. Rather than just publish the bare-bones information ("Jane Doe was cited for blah-blah-blah"), the staff there goes through the hearing documents and tells the full story — context is often critical, and it makes the site less of a gossip fueling station.

Guess what? We’ve been doing that, too — we’ve been publishing the most interesting VREB cases in the "Life Lessons" sections of every issue of Commonwealth for years, including the stories behind the discipline. The only difference? We change the names. ;-)