Teaching Ethics to New REALTORS®
Today was my day to teach our new REALTORS® their intro to the Code of Ethics. This is a mandatory class with our Association (and NAR) and the class is 4 hours long. I remember several years ago I proctored this class and how boring the subject of ethics was. I wondered how much was sinking into the new agents heads or were they simply thinking about making their first commission. It can be a very dry subject talking about all the rules and how we can get in trouble by not following them. It is easy to tune out.
NAR has prepared a powerpoint presentation to be used in this class. The instructor has the freedom to deliver the material anyway she sees fit. Here's what happened. The computer had a meltdown about 3/4's of the way through the class. The presentation was lost. Of course I had an outline to follow but felt inspired to deviate from the text and put a different spin on how we should deal with our fellow agents.
I shared a real story about a situation where the buyers agent called a listing agent's seller to try to apply pressure to the seller to pay a higher commission if she were to get her buyers to buy his house. He said he would think about it as he didn't want to say no and her not bring an offer.
The seller immediately called his agent to share about this demand phone call. He said he wanted to sell the house, needed to sell the house and if paying an additional percent could make that happen he would do it though he didn't want to. His listing agent told him that the cooperating commission was stated in MLS and the agent should not have made the call as it was a violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Contacting another agent's client and trying to negotiate the commission directly was totally unacceptable.
Then the listing agent called the buyers agent to ask why she made the call. She said there was nothing wrong with it and that she knew the seller well and felt like it was perfectly okay as she had sold several of his homes in the past. The listing agent pointed out it was a violation of the Code and the buyers agent did not agree or believe it. There was no point in continuing the conversation as the buyers agent was clearly in the dark that she did anything wrong.
A follow up call was made to the buyers agent's broker. The conversation was shared and the broker immediately said his agent was in the wrong and to please allow him to talk with her to straighten it out. He took the opportunity to get her to research the Code and she found she was in violation of two articles. She realized she was wrong and called to apologize. She no longer brought up her desire for more commission and said she would be bringing in a full price price offer from her buyer.
The buyers agent followed up with a note of apology and said she had learned a valuable lesson and would not be doing that again.
After sharing this story, I asked the class whether an Ethics Complaint should be filed against that REALTOR® under these circumstances? The overwhelming response was no.
I concurred and used this to illustrate it is preferable to have one on one conversations with our fellow agents when we see behavior is contradictory to the COE. Many times it is just ignorance and an agent not knowing. Sure they should know the rules, but reality is it doesn't always sink in when they hear it the first time around. Communication should be used more often and it can resolve so many problems. It is not always necessary to file formal complaints when a phone call, a conversation, a discussion can be the catalyst to start a change in behavior.
I encouraged the New REALTORS® to talk to one another and when they see unethical behavior to speak up. It is up to all of us to monitor and self-correct the members of our profession. Communication is the key to better relationships and better behavior. Silence won't get it done. We don't have to threaten filing a complaint every time. Let's talk. (My confession is that this was not part of the NAR presentation.)
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"The Real Debbie Reynolds"
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