By Ross Wilson

In this seventh in the series about real estate commission rates, allow me to address what is referred to as double-ending, or representing both seller and buyer in a sales transaction. It’s certainly fraught with risk, but is it too risky to participate in this practice?

It’s commonly perceived that the charging of a double commission is unreasonable. But let’s look at it another way. Technically, it may seem like a double fee, but it’s actually two separate commissions on a single property. Remember in a previous column, when I discussed dividing a full commission into two parts – half for the listing agent and half for the buyer brokerage? Well, let’s bring that concept into this discussion.



Opposition to the whole concept of dual agency exists and it is currently under review by governments in B.C. and Ontario. Amongst other concerns, it’s been suggested that when representing the interests of multiple parties in a transaction, our services are degraded. Therefore, they argue, because we provide less service, our fee should be lower.

I disagree. Nevertheless, realty agents unfortunately often discount their contractually agreed fee when double-ending, not necessarily because they want to, but because they feel obligated since a full commission is a lot of money. Or they do so to win the listing or are coerced into doing so during a listing competition. Or during an offer presentation, an unscrupulous seller or buyer demands it. But think again about risk.

Naturally, with any agency, there’s always risk, but it multiplies with multiple agency. More opposing clients and more potential conflict equates with higher risk. In a single agency, you normally assume the risk of what might ultimately prove to be a futile attempt to win the listing or generate income. And of course, there’s always the risk of liability due to technical error. Also, on rare occasions, there’s the risk of not being paid. With dual agency, you can double that risk and then some.

If a multiple-agency transaction is skilfully and conscientiously organized, more agent expertise is required – not less. To effectively execute the riskier role of dual agent and discharge your professional fiduciary responsibilities correctly, you must do more work, provide more disclosure, carefully and cautiously communicate and mediate between and expertly advise more client parties and create and manage more documents than if a co-operating brokerage is involved. Plainly expressed, doubling the number of parties equates with doubling the complexity. Consequently, under such circumstance, the full fee as agreed in the listing contract is quite justifiable.

An ethical challenge exists with respect to the discounting of fees for a “double-ender”. Let’s say the total commission payable by the seller is $20,000. You present an offer to your sellers who say they’ll accept it if you reduce your commission to $15,000. They complain that your commission is still a lot of money, especially if it’s only been on the market a couple of weeks. If you comply, the seller is happy, the buyer is happy, but you – not so much. You just lost $5,000.

Now, let’s be realistic. If you had not introduced your buyer to that listing (which you’re ethically compelled to do) and instead, sold your buyer another agent’s listing of the same value, and in the meantime, another agent sold your listing, you’d have generated the full $20,000 commission; half from your sold listing and half from the sale of another brokerage’s listing. Clearly, this is a practical disincentive to do your best for your seller client. To collect your full fee, either you not show your own listing or your buyer must make up the $5,000 in lost commission under the buyer representation agreement. Complicated? Yup. It gets even more so when the buyer demands a “kick-back” of commission for agreeing to work with you as the listing agent. Or the buyer expects to buy the property at a lower price because they think, rightly or not, that you’re earning a double commission and will reduce your fee to “make the deal happen”. But the seller wants the entire benefit of a lower commission for themselves.

Everybody wants a piece of your fee. Since when did the agent become a third-party contractor to the agreement of purchase and sale? For all practical purposes, that’s exactly what happens when you throw in your fee. Under common law, this isn’t permitted.

I mean, think about it. You’re participating as a party to the contract by contributing your fee to the price negotiation – but without the accompanying equity interest. It’s not much different from you paying part of the purchase price to the seller or giving money to the buyer for their down payment – but without the benefit of a lien or titled equity interest. In exchange for your financial donation, maybe you should demand a collateral mortgage be registered on title in the amount of your fee reduction and see what happens.

I can hear the howling as the parties fervently object to such an “unreasonable” proposal. Kicking in is a slippery slope indeed. To enjoy a solid business, I suggest you avoid it whenever possible. If the sale is meant to be, then it will be – and without your sacrificial contribution.

In the next column, I’ll continue this discussion from a slightly different perspective, that of mediation verses advocacy.

SIMILAR ARTICLES

  • There are arguments, favouring both of the main competing perspectives on the subject of a registrant acting in a representative capacity for a buyer and seller. It will ever be thus, because all of our individual experiences and all of our individual interpretations of what we read, think we know or know, lead to differing conclusions. This is true in all respects of the human condition.

    It is never about there being differing viewpoints.

    It is about how do we rationalize the differences with the least harm to parties on either side.

    Truth be known there is a balancing to be done. So for instance, the many REALTORS® and clients or customers who do not want a single person registrant to represent both sides …today, already and under the present law…..have the opportunity to effectively do that. No need for regulation or government intervention. Just do it.

    Now of course there are some circumstances that make this less possible, a remote northern town with one REALTOR® might be an example, but OREA is promoting that this be an exception the paternalistic rules proposed by the government!

    There are clients and customers who welcome the single registrant service. They gain some advantages, perhaps some financial, many of them are knowledge and expertise driven.

    The article in part claims a REALTOR® deserves full pay because we are, in my words, really a consultant doing the transaction.

    We are also business people. The fact of the matter is that if one handles both sides of a deal, the quality of your work is not degraded (to use the term in the article that others allegedly are articulating)…..it is that some parts of it are not duplicated …the same thing would otherwise be done by two separate individuals as proper fiduciary representation requires. Our volume of business is increased without the same increase in work; selling a 1000 versus 1,000,000 widgets has the same conceptual tone to it.

    Treat it as a referral…if you did not have to spend money to market your services, your costs are lower and you may pass on some of that to obtain the income ….otherwise, you have nothing.

    There is no ethical dilemma…IMO…this is a contrived suggestion. No disrespect to the author, I simply disagree with the analysis.

    • Thanks, Cameron, for your submission. I agree wholeheartedly with your opening statement. And I continue to agree with the remaining points raised. Thus, unless I’ve misunderstood you, I believe we are on the same page, with the possible exception of your last paragraph in which you say there’s no ethical dilemma. Only in the example I used pertaining to the issue of charging a so-called double commission on a double-ender does the possibility of such an ethical dilemma surface. Aside from this, I believe we’re in agreement.

      • Ross, thank you too. Ethical applications are about moral or right and wrong approaches. You offered what seemed to be an absolute question…that is, where one reduces ones commission, as an accommodation to a double ending transaction, one is risking a suggestion in the behaviour that one’s professional conduct is degraded. My argument is and always will be, that degraded professional behaviour is a fact to be judged in the context of all behaviour in a transaction and cannot be even suggested by the one factor of fees. And this is especially so in the making of a business decision about fees.

        Where there are trends towards lower commissions, does that also mean that service has been degraded? What if we up the fees, they rise, is the service somehow improved….???? We are supposed to “ethically” offer the best in the professional undertakings, how possibly could the fees that rise and fall due to the market, that adjust in relation to the services asked of us by a client or customer, etc. have any bearing on the nature of the service.

        In my opinion, and this is perhaps correctly as you put it, where we disagree, there is no ethical dilemma in the fee. It is inherent in the individual. What worries me Paul, is that in our profession that is full of surface thinkers, some may actual believe the argument to be true and they will miss truly checking their ethical failure at the door because they think it is fee based and not necessarily behaviour based!

        • I like your use of the phrase “surface thinkers”. It says much about humanity in general. I have found that truly independent thinkers are a rare breed.

          Over the past several years, commission rates have been a hot topic. Why? Because it has been a hot seller’s market in many areas, particularly greater Toronto and Vancouver. Short supply combined with high demand typically not only raises sale prices, but also results in downward pressure on fees.

          However, now that the hot markets are beginning to cool somewhat (which was inevitable), I suggest that eager sellers will start a “new” trend, that is offering higher commission rates and/or bonuses to attract the attention of buyers and their agents. So, discussions pertaining to commission rates will, in the near future, probably become moot.

          And lastly, I agree that ethics has nothing to do with fees. Ethics or morals are inherent codes of behaviour held by the practitioner. On the other hand, fees are a matter of business. If an agent chooses to work for a dramatically lower commission rate, behaving ethically or not, they’d better have substantial volume. Otherwise, they’ll not be in the business very long.

  • PED

    Let’s cut to chase, shall we?

    It’s not about the whitewashed story you concoct to convince yourself and your clients that acting as a dual agent can work well when handled properly, after all, I’m fairly certain that every single one of the defendants in that link who found themselves unable to convince a judge that they cared more about their client than their money, thought it went well until someone decided to not let it go.

    https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/sort=decisionDate&text=%22dual%20agency%22

    Face it, it’s about the money as Rosa Powell so clearly said – she “collected both ends of the fee, without guilt.” Yet, so did those people who were found guilty.

    After all, Every single one of you I’m sure, sells yourself as protecting the client’s best interest – dual agency does not allow that, no matter how you slice it or dice it. Maybe you even advertise that you sell for more money, faster and a whole host of lines you should know is nonsense because once you go the dual agency route, by default of agency law, none of that is true any longer. And,

    I’m fairly certain there is not a Realtor out there who tries to sell a client on dual agency yet will use the same attorney as the person they’re divorcing or suing.

    I’m also certain that when they’re trying to land a buyer, who’s mentioned going directly to the listing rep, that they’re talking the buyer out of going to the listing Realtor because it’s ‘better to get their own representation.’

    The dishonesty in this industry is too evident as supported by these articles and do absolutely nothing to increase the general public’s trust in our industry. They just show that some of us are shamefully unapologetic when it comes to our own self-interests.

    It’s more disheartening when you see a long-time industry person others look up drone on about the possible ban – how it’s not fair because he would have to turn around and set his buyers free to someone not as capable. Apart from the likelihood of that being very remote, with all those years of experience, it escapes him that, rather than attach himself to the seller in a fiduciary capacity he could say, you know Mr. & Mrs seller, I have a client for this property, my duty right now is to them, so I will not represent you but I will be thrilled if you would allow me to bring an offer from my buyer for X fee.

    Meanwhile, the very ‘not as capable’ as he puts it, look up to him and are influenced by his excuse which places himself first and the cycle continues.

    We need a serious clean-up in this industry, might as well start with this. I’ve lobbied for it for at least 8 years now and have yet to see a cogent argument for the practice to stay.

    It can’t be banned fast enough!

    • Well, I must say Mr. Anonymous PED, that you certainly hold a rather cynical view. I suppose your opinion is based upon much negative experience in what I must presume is a not terribly successful real estate career. I’ll not respond to each and every point you raise since I suspect any argument I make will likely fall upon deaf ears.

      However, allow me to say that we do agree on one point – the industry is in need of a serious clean-up. But the banning of dual agency will certainly not have much of an effect. Improving our industry will involve a fundamental evolution of how we practice, and that evolution is well underway. Like any business, it cannot occur over-night. So, we must be persevering and patient, with an eye to the future.

      A bit of advice, though, if you don’t mind; our thoughts are real energy. And we attract what we think about. Thoughts lead to feelings which in turn, lead to action – or not. For more, I invite you to read my book, The Happy Agent, wherein I delve further into the whole concept of creating happiness first, and wealth second.

      • PED

        Why Ross Wilson, I think you think I’m some unsuspecting customer who can’t wait to be sold by the use of pseudo-psychology.

        I’m not!

        My view actually aligns with people who I believe are much more learned than most in this industry – the lawyers and judges who make money off of salespersons like yourself for having convinced others that it’s in their best interests to hire you to represent them and the opposing side in the same financial arrangement!

        It amuses me the number of ways people who practice this conflict of interest find to legitimize it. They all do, until the day they end up in court of course.

        Speaking of court Ross Wilson, my opinion is neither cynical nor based on negative experience, I just simply refuse to place any of my clients in such a precarious position – I like and respect them far too much to diminish the service I promised to provide and immediately deny any buyer expecting I’d be more than happy to give them a break in price because I’d get all the commission – after all, every single one always say that to me, to every Realtor I know who has been so approached. They actually tell us in such camouflaged language that they hope to appeal to a lack of ethics and loyalty to our seller client.

        And rather than writing books, maybe you’d be better informed by reading:

        https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/sort=decisionDate&text=%22fiduciary%20duty%22
        https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/sort=decisionDate&text=%22dual%20agency%22
        https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/sort=decisionDate&text=%22multiple%20representation%22

        You are a true salesman – always finding a way to plug that book of yours.

        Thanks for the advice, here is mine to you:

        This industry doesn’t need salesmen any longer, it needs advocates. Unfortunately far too many still don’t recognize that’s why we have such a nasty reputation because they’re forever the salesman – peddling books to the very end and to an already Happy Agent yet.

        • Brian Martindale

          PED:
          Your statement “This industry doesn’t need salesmen any longer, it needs advocates.” says it all.
          I have read about half of Ross’s book. He makes some good points within its pages regarding the importance pf personal integrity, ethics and morality. I have yet to finish the read. I agree with much of his philosophy, so far, regarding what it takes to be a professional Realtor (as far as personal attributes are concerned). Where I disagree with Ross is his defense of double ending. Ross speaks for himself when he defends the practice as he practices it, but he cannot speak for anyone else, and that is where his argument falls apart. I am going to (in the near future) write an OP EP dealing with dual agency and why I believe that most (almost all)Realtors cannot be trusted to equitably conduct same due to their inability to psychologically separate out their fiduciary responsibilities to opposing parties (at one and the same time) from their quest for dual commissions. It will be a controversial submission. I am hoping that Jim the-Editor-guy will publish it herein.

          • PED

            Brian. In all of the conversations I’ve seen to date about the double-ending, specifically where the listing Realtor also represents the buyer as a client, I’ve not ever seen anyone speak to the nastiest, most insidious side to it which is the reduction of listing fees.

            If for no other reason such as unethical or conflict of interest or reduction of promised fiduciary duty, it’s the dirty little secret Realtors can utilize to hold hostage all competitors.

            It ‘s the fact that they have anywhere from 2 to 2.5% commissions by which to reduce their fees as leverage against the co-operating brokerage.

            That ability and oft used practice renders , in my opinion, any argument pro-double-ending not just mute, but anti-competitive and unethical!

            There is not a co-operating brokerage out there that can afford to compete with a listing brokerage that has at its disposal the ability to waive all of the very amount offered a co-operating brokerage.

            We need to be serious about cleaning up this profession and I’m squarely on the side of the province as they stand at present. As I know you are, Brian.

          • Carolyne in Canada

            Dear (MR.) PED

            Please forgive me but I have to say that in 38 years in this business I never experienced this. Just lucky I guess.

            Much of my career years were in sub agency. Every listing agent had only a contract with the Seller. All that was owed to a buyer was “a duty of care,” and you all know the definition.

            I couldn’t begin to say how many times, telling a would-be buyer or buyer-call, each and every time, while double-ending, or for that matter, even when selling an MLS listing: “don’t tell me anything I don’t need to know, such as this is your offer, but really you are prepared to pay xyz.

            WHY!?! Because I “must” tell the seller. It was always so simple. Sub-agency was easily explained. I was under contract to the seller, even if the seller wasn’t mine.

            Then came buyer agency. And all the rules changed. When working FOR the buyer (under contract), we must NOT tell the seller “anything” about the buyer. It’s very clear.

            As to cutting commission, I never did. Number one, Royal LePage forbid it.
            I always loved George Cormack’s discussions on the topic. His words: “You never know who is related to whom. They talk. Important to treat everyone equally.” Then I opened my own company. I applied all the same rules. He felt the same way about gifting. It meant standing on shifting sands, to do such. He was right.

            And regarding cutting commissions to outsmart an MLS co-op offer, I never even entertained the idea. And I never experienced a colleague doing it, either. Not ever.

            And I got countless calls from would-be buyers telling me they wanted to buy my listings because “they knew” they could get a better “deal” because they would share in “my” commission.

            I’d like to be paid for all the time I took explaining the real estate facts of life to those callers. It would be a small fortune. Each and every caller over the years told me that no one had ever taken time to explain it all to them.

            When the first words out of a caller were: “how much commission do you charge?” My first words were: “I do not discuss my commission amounts over the phone. Please let us set a time to meet and then we can discuss. If they were serious, they would. If not, next! I had one particular fellow who called himself an investor and said he’d been around years longer than me, and no one had ever denied him. Well, he found one who did. And he called back several times. Just didn’t get it!

            And I sometimes had to be firm in the extreme with a couple of maybe-buyers where I refused to show them my listing. They went and told the seller. But I had got to my seller first each time to explain why I had refused. And I kept good notes. Sub-agency or buyer agency.

            Some of those often irate callers “demanding” not just requesting that I share my commission, later remembered how well they had been treated by me. When they were ready to buy an MLS listing, they called me. Later, and then in buyer agency “to represent them.”

            Most years double-ending represented about 60% of my business. I would often have a string of six ends, five of which would be mine. My double-ends all closed. I was never sued. My buyers and sellers came back to me over and over again, over the years. And sent me their friends, relatives and colleagues.

            Part of the problem in this business is that agents do not spend enough time educating the public. And sometimes the public is simply not interested in the how’s, why’s, and what-for’s. And sometimes the public is just smart enough to know how to be a better salesman than the salesman.

            There are scallywags in every business. It’s no excuse, but it is a fact. Change the dual-role rules, and the creative ones will still find a work-around, as Rui had noted. Same in the legal field (keeps the Law Society busy), the mortgage field, and estate planning, investment banking, etcetera. People are people wherever you find them. They don’t all fly straight.

            Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. There are always thorns among roses. At the rate the industry is changing, it won’t be long before buyers and sellers list and sell through the government, eliminating the problem as stated, altogether.

            Just my thoughts. Doesn’t make me right. Only saying what worked for me. I make no excuses. I farmed religiously. And that worked, too. I do not speak for or against others who have different thoughts on this topic obviously. Discussion does not make one person right and another one wrong. But good paperwork trails are a must, in every situation.

            Carolyne L 🍁

          • As always, I appreciate your comments, Carolyne. I’m sure our readers would agree that you wee a rare breed when you actively practiced real estate. You were confident, competent, and just as importantly, honest.

            That’s how I did my business too. And such behaviour resulted in a successful 4+ decade career in an industry that “loses” roughly 4 out of every 5 registrants during the first 5 years.

            Regrettably, though, in today’s business, you and I are arguably dinosaurs. The industry has definitely changed, and there are larger changes to come.

          • Brian Martindale

            Hi PED:
            Yes, we do need to be serious about cleaning up this (what should be a profession) business. The only way to do that is to close all of the loopholes-for-assholes that unethical, or soon-to-be unethical desperados, can use to evade following the rules whilst flying under the radar. Whilst I am not a great fan of big government (especially the bureaucrats), I do realize that sometimes government needs to see the light and get its hands dirty by enacting legislation that protects its constituency from too many culturally indoctrinated sales hacks who populate most sales industries…including real estate sales. Big commission potential attracts big commission hunters. One will do more outside of the bounds of ethical practices for a many-thousands-of-dollars commission than one will do for a fifty-dollar commission. It’s a no brainer, even for a politician or a bureaucrat to see.
            There are Realtors out there, past and present, who I believe did/can professionally conduct ethical, morally acceptable double-end transactions, but they are few and far between. These folks actually don’t need rules to tell them how to be professionals; they are consummate professionals from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads by nature. The rest–the vast majority–not so much; they are simply sales people looking to make the most of their time in the saddle. It is for these inherent sales types that rules and regulations are formulated for the good of the public, not to mention for the good of the industry itself…ethically speaking of course. For now, the industry always, as it always has, puts the almighty dollar first, even though it spends countless dollars of waiting-to-fail, here-today-gone-tomorrow cannon-fodder recruits’ dues on advertorials to the contrary. How ORE’s leaders can publicly justify describing all Realtors as professionals is beyond me, when they know that at least 90% of them are not professionals. Yes, that’s right: out of over 100,000 Realtors currently operating across Canada, I am saying that no more than ten thousand of them, if that many, are true professionals, worthy of respect from me, you, the government types, or the public in general if the truth be known (by the public that is) as it is by me, you, the government types and a few other contributors herein. If the industry cannot clean itself up due to its lust for commissions–which shades its eyes from what it oversees, or should I say, what it refuses to acknowledge what it oversees, within its purview–then there is no other option but for government to intercede.
            Big changes on the horizon. Hope they get it right.

          • As always, Brian, I respect your opinion. However, you seem to be leaping to the conclusion that the vast majority of Realtors across the country are totally unethical. I suggest that such a conclusion is based upon an exceptionally small sampling, thus tough to substantiate. Having said this, you may indeed be correct in that many at least occasionally behave unethically.

            During my career, I have been blessed with countless opportunities to work with what I considered honest, ethical sales reps. But I will admit that many of those experiences occurred earlier in my career. In those days, offices were typically smaller, and under direct management supervision. Nowadays, offices have swollen to huge numbers, with the vast majority of those agents out there doing their own thing. And the old 80/20 rule is obviously now closer to 95/5. Managers, even if they become informed of poor behaviour by their agents, are probably reluctant to chastise those heavy hitting profit centres.

            Now, I’m not castigating the larger offices; I’m just saying that it’s virtually impossible to oversee every sales rep or transaction to ensure proper behaviour and performance. Further, the number of registrants has ballooned in the last couple of decades to ridiculous numbers. When one considers our industry’s average income and dramatic attrition rate, it’s no wonder we’re having a lot of trouble. It’s become a dog-eat-dog jungle out there.

            I agree with you when you state that most registrants, at least occasionally, probably behave unprofessionally by putting their own interests ahead of those of their clients. But this is only one of the many arguments for fundamentally changing how real estate is practiced in this country.

            It’s definitely time for serious change, and it’s happening whether we like it or not. By the way, I look forward to your proposed op-ed.

          • Brian Martindale

            Hi Ross:
            You are a reasonable guy to debate with, unlike some who have come onto this site hatchet in hand, real name withheld, in full attack mode. To your point that “…you seem to be leaping to the conclusion that the vast majority of Realtors across the country are totally unethical.” and “…you may indeed be correct in that many occasionally behave unethically.” I absolutely believe that many (most) Realtors occasionally behave unethically, when they cannot afford (financially) to behave ethically. In other words, we all tend to behave ethically when it will not cost us anything of a negative nature, be it emotionally, physically, interrelationally, or, financially, when with respect to the last category, a negative financial hit, be it a certain loss or a potential loss, cannot be sustained within one’s then-current mindset. As we both know, this cognitive dissonance scenario plays all of the time with big-time commission chasers who tend to try to live up to the standards of what one wants to earn vs what one is currently earning, and therein lies the problem with almost all wannabes, early know-nothing-careerists, struggling know-a-little-bit mid-term survivors, surviving devolving-from-naïve-honest-wannabes-to-practicing-the-sales-culture’s ways-and-means-influence-peddling scripts/strategies wannabe-professionals-but-still-amateurs producers to the flat out high-flying Terry Paranych types who practice (pre Hearing decisions) in-your-face unethical behaviours in quest of more and more and more and more commissions before death brings down the final curtain on the greatest act one has ever been privy to partaking in…because for most, being a Realtor is all about acting. People like you, PED (whom I know and respect), Carolyne (whom I know and respect) and a few others who take the time to opine herein are not actors. I am certainly not an actor, but some herein have thought that I am a very bad actor when it comes down to calling them out with their outrageous attacks on my person from the holier-than-thou safety net of anonymity…which in and of itself is full of holes…assholes.
            I will deal with the psychological nature of why I believe what I believe when it comes down to why most Realtors cannot be trusted to ethically, equitably conduct double-enders, and the main reason is that they cannot even trust themselves to do so; it is beyond their realm of self knowledge to get it right. Few can do it. I could not do it when I first entered the real estate wars in 1980, but I learned enough about myself over the years to be able to either carry the deed out ethically, or walk right away from it. Walking away was easier and ultimately the correct thing for me to do. I never felt that I was losing something that I did not already have. I guess I am not a naturally greedy person…like a squirrel storing its more-than-it-could-ever-eat-in-its-lifetime’s relentlessly- gathered-up-nuts whilst fighting off every-other-squirrel instinctive survival behavior. we are not squirrels, although too many of us act like squirrels, and too many of them latch too easily onto real estate sales person licenses. For me, money is not everything; I am not a desperado; I do not want nor do I need everything that money can buy. My value system values reputation over dollars in the bank. Thus, I never aspired to be a high-flyer, a somebody…besides, I always got my mufflers fixed at Speedy Muffler King; they always made me feel like a somebody.
            Stay tuned for my Op Ed, if Jim-the-Editor guy publishes it. I will pull no punches, but I will expect to receive some who will think that I am attacking their sales strategies and attitudes regarding how they view potential clients as either partners to a transaction or as cash cows to be milked as fast as possible. Those are the two personality types that populate Organized Real Estate. It’s a zero-sum game, and most end up in the zero column…which is precisely where they belong. Now…if only we could devise and establish a system to weed the weeds out before they get in on the action and establish a root system that makes it hard to get rid of them before they f–k up the whole industry

          • That’s quite a diatribe, Brian. Where do I begin to respond? Well, allow me to say that you and I seem to be cut from the same old cloth. I, too, have walked away from prospective new clients whom I felt expected me to behave in a manner that violated my fundamental principles of fairness and integrity.

            I agree that unethical behaviour is more likely to occur when someone who lives in fear is faced with a potential loss, or a no-gain scenario. And greed is simply another derivative of fear. Someone who derives personal security from having all the commonly accepted indicators of financial success – a big house, fancy car – typically suffer from an inflated ego, which of course, is merely a defense mechanism.

            Paraphrasing Shakespeare (or was it Bacon?), all the world is a stage, and we are all actors. To live peacefully in society, we mind our manners, obey (most of) the laws of the land, follow the Golden Rule, and do what is the “right” thing to do. Is this not acting? I suggest the difference between acting honestly and dishonestly speaks to our individual core beliefs, our subconscious programming, and how afraid we are of not surviving. Thus, we are all actors on this stage.

            Like you, I never aspired to be a giant of the industry. All I ever wanted was to earn a good living by helping people attain their goals, whether those people were home sellers or buyers, or sales reps who worked in my offices. All I have ever wanted was enough. And that is exactly what I produced – for over 40 years!

            Maybe what is happening in our industry, with the egoic “I never sleep” blowhards and fearful, greedy money grubbers wrecking havoc on the reputation of the “good agents” is the final evolutionary phase necessary to forcefully kick our industry into a brave new world.

          • Brian Martindale

            Ross:
            <
            Yes, it was Shakespeare who wrote:
            “All the world’s a stage,
            And all the men and women merely players;
            They have their exits and their entrances,
            And one man in his time plays many parts,”…
            Some play at being professional Realtors;
            A select few play the role better than others.

            We are what we are based largely upon two things: 1) What we inherit genetically from our parents, and, 2) What we are educationally indoctrinated with, or not, regarding what makes us a positively functioning member of society…or not. We can do naught about our genetic makeup…but…we can do plenty about our character makeup all the while we continue to breathe…up until our last gasp…when we exit stage left, or right.
            You say that we are all actors, and that may be true, but some of us are more actors than others, and some of us never stop acting. Actors, in the literal sense, are really paid liars; they get paid to act out parts in a play or in a movie production; they impersonate others. Sales people, on the other hand, act in a mercenary manner designed to influence others to purchase something or other, otherwise they don’t get paid (commissions) or they get fired (if working for a salary) due to low production numbers. The latter type of actors are those to whom I refer. The rest of the population, the non-mercenary actors (non professional sales people) ideally will try to act out their entire lives in a manner worthy of self-respect for self-respect’s sake…depending upon one’s upbringing. If one possess self-respect, then one does not need respect from anyone else, but one will surely appreciate same if one receives it from without.
            Reading appropriate character-building material will almost always enhance one’s appreciation of what it takes to become a good person (if that means anything to one at all), and that is especially important for the development of the young, immature self-centered personality. It seems that reading within our low school education system, not to mention our high school system, has become a lost art. I wonder how many students of any age have read, nevertheless memorized, the following Rudyard Kipling piece, which I have never forgotten, Why have I never forgotten it? Because, I had to memorize it as part of my public school curriculum in grade eight. Luckily for me I had already read it many times over, by choice, in grade five. Here it is…
            Note: No sexist remarks needed; I am sure that the designation “man” as stated herein applies equally to women in terms of the poem’s meaning.

            IF—

            BY RUDYARD KIPLING

            If you can keep your head when all about you
            Are losing theirs and blaming it one you.
            If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
            But make allowance for their doubting too;
            If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
            Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
            Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
            And yet don’t look too good, nor walk too wise:
            If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
            If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
            If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
            And treat those two imposters just the same;
            If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
            Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
            Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
            And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
            If you can make one heap of all your winnings
            And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
            And lose, and start again at your beginnings
            And never breathe a word about your loss;
            If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
            To serve your turn long after they are gone,
            And so hold on when there is nothing in you
            Except the WILL which says to them: “Hold On!”
            If you can walk with crowds and keep your virtue,
            Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
            If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
            If all men count with you, but none too much;
            If you can fill the unforgiving minute
            With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
            Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
            And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!
            I would bet that not one hundred Realtors have ever read these words of wisdom, let alone memorized them. I never forgot those words from grade eight until now.
            Maybe this poem should be part of the real estate university curriculum…to be memorized flawlessly and included in the final exam…to be written out with all punctuation correctly situated…no 80%correct gets a passing grade. Only 100% accuracy will cut it, ‘else no license; no commissions.
            Self discipline is what is needed within this what-should-be-a profession that is actually a breeding ground for skullduggery with a few professionals successfully operating within who are quietly bucking the trend.

          • Brian:
            A great piece by Kipling. I read it many years ago and have always admired the principles contained within it. And when I paraphrased Shakespeare, my mention of Francis Bacon was intended merely as a tongue-in-cheek reference to another old controversy.

            I agree that our personalities and beliefs are the result of genetics, but only in a very small way. What we each believe and how we behave is to a far greater extent the product of subconscious programming and enculturation. Our parents, teachers, religious leaders and assorted authority figures throughout our young lives, particularly during the formative years up to the age of seven, have huge power over the development of our individual personalities. As a matter of fact, it was the Jesuits who famously claimed that it you gave them your son for the first seven years of their lives, they would show you the man.

            According to Dr Bruce Lipton and others of his ilk, the subconscious mind is a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. And it’s in the subconscious where beliefs are programmed and held. Thus, the task of altering a belief installed during childhood, such as one of low self-respect, is a monumental undertaking, and not often accomplished without a lifetime of concerted effort.

            Here’s a short piece (author unknown) that I included in The Happy Agent that you’ve no doubt come across before:

            If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn himself and others
            If she lives with hostility, she believes she must fight and struggle in life

            If he’s ridiculed, he develops low self-esteem and becomes shy and insecure
            If she lives in fear, she becomes apprehensive, avoids risk and develops a victim mentality
            If he lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty about himself
            If she’s taught tolerance, she learns patience
            If he’s encouraged, he develops high self-esteem and self-confidence
            If she lives in an atmosphere of love and acceptance, she learns to love, to be non-judgemental and that she is lovable
            If he’s respected and recognized as an individual and permitted to make his own life choices, he learns self-respect and to appreciate the importance of life goals
            If she lives with integrity, she learns the importance of truth
            If he lives with fairness, he learns justice
            If she lives in a happy home, she learns faith in herself and others
            If he lives with friendliness and love, he accepts the world as a good place to love and be loved and most importantly, that he is lovable

            You may ask why I’ve address this subject. Well, the current structure of the real estate business, with the low-capital and “no prior education” requirements, combined with the highly enticing time freedom and large income potential, has attracted a certain element of humanity. Now, I’ve met countless good people in the business, and count many of them as friends and respected colleagues. But as you know, our industry is rife with those of, shall I say, lesser integrity, intelligence and ethics. Is this going to change anytime soon? Regrettably, I believe not, at least not until some significant fundamental changes are made to this industry.

            Humanity is far from perfect. As children we learn everything from those who have gone before. And that’s how the vast majority of people live their lives. They believe that they cannot change, or simply refuse to do so because of a “that’s the way I’ve always done things” attitude. To change, one must become conscious. I believe it was Einstein who has been credited with opining that if one tries for different results while doing the same thing repeatedly, then that person is insane.

            In conclusion, I suggest that rather than expect different behaviour from the existing enculturated membership, whether by way of questionable compulsory continuing education or with the strict enforcement of government legislation, the industry must morph into a completely different animal. As I said, I have offered a few suggestions in The Happy Agent. But as the vast majority of the populace are not interested in reading, including those who could dearly benefit from picking up a book, our words rarely find the light of day,

          • Thanks again, PED, for your comments. I agree that our industry is in desperate need of a house-cleaning. I must admit that over the years, I’ve met and been forced to deal with what I felt were agents behaving unethically, and clearly against the rules and codes under which we are all supposed to work.

            I’ve always maintained very high standards for myself, and have expected others to perform to those same high standards. Sadly, I was oft disappointed. Nevertheless, I never lowered those standards. And when opportunity presented itself, I encouraged the other agents to do what was right.

            I’ve also been exposed to gross technical errors made by agents supposedly acting on behalf of their client. And in each of such cases, I felt compelled to subtly advise them of their technical errors while not betraying the interests of my own clients, nor damaging the other agent’s fragile ego.

            In The Happy Agent, I suggest that our fee structure seems to be evolving. As a matter of fact, I make several suggestions as to how it could so evolve in the not too distant future. Our industry could conceivably morph into something us old-timers mightn’t even recognize. It’s arguably time for a serious fundamental change in how Realtors do business. But I’d much prefer that the industry make those changes, and definitely not the government.

          • I appreciate your honest comments, Brian. And you’re probably correct in your assertion that many agents when undertaking a dual agency scenario fail to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to at least one of the parties. It’s a sad testament, but Realtors, just like the majority of the rest of humanity, live in fear of not having enough. Many likely don’t realize it since they don’t understand that fear manifests in many guises, such as anger, regret, frustration, worry, greed, shame, etc, etc.

            When people live a life of love and compassion, which they could if they were to begin to awaken, that is to say, become more conscious, they could realize that they always have enough.

            With the guidance of experts in their respective fields of study, I delve into this subject in greater depth in section 3 of The Happy Agent. I bring much more of my personal life philosophy, particularly as it applies to earning a “living”, along with a little quantum physics and spirituality (not religion, which is entirely a different subject). Life lessons with which I’ve been blessed while in this incarnation resulted in my having a highly successful career.

        • Thanks for your reply, PED. For the record, I do my best to not judge anyone, for such judgements are typically based upon my own personal stories, that is to say, preconceived notions. By the way, we all have them. Secondly, though RECO states otherwise, I’ve never considered myself a so-called salesman. During my 40+ year career, I’ve behaved more as a facilitator; I learn what people want, and then go about fulfilling their requests to the best of my ability.

          If you would care to take the time to read my book, you would very quickly learn this to be so. In it, I advocate advocacy. I am not what you would call competitive, but more a compassionate mediator. So, I humbly suggest that you do your best to not cast aspersions without doing your own due diligence. Dual agency can and does work, provided the registrant is honest, ethical, compassionate and reasonably intelligent.

          Lastly, writing, editing and publishing The Happy Agent consumed years of my valuable time, and even more years of being an avid reader of books. And keep in mind that our personal time is far, far more valuable that money, the latter being quite replaceable. So, to hope for sales is not unreasonable. Also, without sales people, which, by the way, has become a generic term for anyone who facilitates the change of ownership of a product, the world as we know it would cease to exist. Now, having said this, maybe that’s not a bad idea after all. I wish you well.

          • Carolyne in Canada

            Buy and selling real estate and helping our clients to do so, is not a game, much less a game of chance, yet there seem to be those who think so. You win, I lose. I win, you lose.

            As a historical top-producer, I can honestly say I never “competed” with anyone else. My own goal posts moved as my clients supported me time and time again. What the market seems to say sometimes currently is that only the agent matters. The client does not.

            In the cases pending closing, currently coming to the foreground, regarding bidding war prices, were the buyers (and the sellers) explained about “possible” repercussions, in the rush to acquire the highest contract price?

            Were both sides instructed “in writing” that the resultant purchase/sale would most likely be subject to an appraisal “and” a re-appraisal close to the closing date? Mercy, agents would know that often happens even in a contract not part of a bidding war. Particularly if the closing date is beyond a quick closing. Banks keening watch the market, upturning or downturning. That is part of the bank’s fiduciary duty to their client-investors. The banks are required by law to keep their books “tidy.” They report to their shareholders. And any volatility in the market must be accounted for. WHOOPS! another reason for appraisals.

            In a market that is being assessed as volatile, appraisers are instructed to tighten up values, on the off-chance a market could crash. History tells us that does happen. Nothing to do with doom and gloom. It’s the nature of the beast.

            And agents who advertise and let it be known that they get to keep a hundred percent of the commission are guilty of false advertising. The old 50/50 and 60/40 splits were accepted and recognized that the corporation in order to survive as a business (much less show a profit), required the other portion in order to function.

            The hundred percent folks are only fooling themselves. But the public demands to have some portion in pay-back, not realizing the foolish advertising alluding to that the agent has no expenses to cover, encouraging the public to expect to share in the agent “profits.”

            There should be no winners and no losers. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about being satisfied. About having enough. It takes more to satisfy some than others. Life’s like that. I first heard that expression about “enough” a few years ago when a valued colleague often used it: “I wish you enough was always his parting comment.” As a good omen.

            There are people who enjoy spending their earnings going to bars, casinos, Vegas, on cruises, visits to foreign countries, and such. Good for them. Live long and enjoy. No one should care what others do with their time or earnings. There are some who would much prefer to own a beautiful home (some large, some not), drive a high-end car, bought or leased, and eat at home.

            Others prefer to sport expensive “real” jewelry, wear the latest expensive (3K per pair) imported “labeled” shoes, and high-end fashion, and let the FB world know of their latest acquisitions

            And then there are those who prefer to keep restaurants in business, both fast-food places and high end, high fashion spots, eating their profits as it were. And belong to high fashion related country clubs and own all the related toys: golf, hockey and others.

            To each his own. We came to this place called earth, empty-handed. We will take nothing with us when we leave, no matter how successful in real estate or any other field.

            It’s the “man in the mirror” thing that is the deciding factor while we’re here. We each have to live with that person, 24/7. He being our best-friend, goal-setter, guide, counselor, advocate, monitor, governor, and judge and jury, all rolled into one. It’s not for us to compare our status or lack thereof, to others. To one person a rowboat might have more meaning than a yacht.

            When being “hired” typically a broker-manager will ask what your dollar goal is for the year, and often meet with their agents to discuss the topic, annually. I had never set dollar-goals, per se; what I earned “just happened” I was paid what I was worth for my related skills. Before a real estate career and during.

            I had been a high earner in my prior career, and had never particularly given it much thought. I worked. I produced. I got paid. So in real estate, when asked my dollar-goal for the upcoming year, I merely ramped up my existing earnings numbers a little. I was told: “that’s silly, Carolyne. Why would you want to set yourself up for disappointment? You’re in the real estate business. Not many reach that type of goal. You’re setting yourself up to lose.” WHAT? Then why ask me the question?

            I was a little surprised. My thoughts were, still: I work. I produce. I get paid (accordingly). And without my knowing or keeping track of payroll stubs, I out-produced my (stated) goal, year after year, after year.

            When I was the corporate number one agent, my broker manager said to me on the way home from the awards function: “You won’t have a repeat performance. You will go downhill from here. And no one remembers who the annual number two agent is. That’s what always happens when agents reach a pinnacle of success such that you have had. Just watch and see.”

            Instead, I decided to take my broker courses, at nearly age 50, then, as the industry was in a state of flux and expecting many changes. I just thought it was time. Didn’t know I was planting a (future) seed. I was ten years a “salesman.” Had no plans to open my own company. But ultimately he forced my hand.

            It’s kind of like one of those stories executives tell, that they got fired or laid off, and it was the best thing that ever happened to them, and they ended up with the corner glass office, sometimes being the boss’s boss.

            Or people who were told as children that they would amount to nothing, and go on the become country leaders of the highest calling, and such. Or a leader in some major enterprise, or like the Home Depot story, or the FedEx school paper poor project mark. Do you read those books?

            It’s funny how much jealousy is out there. It’s okay for corporate owners and VIP’s to own many worldly things, but when an agent does, it’s frowned upon. Can’t let the client know he owns a Jag. Oh My! Why would that be? (And by the way, that applies in all businesses: lawyers and other high earners who drive a Benz or a Bentley on the weekends, but don’t want it seen at work in their office parking lot.)

            As though by having it, it meant someone else couldn’t or shouldn’t. You see those comments every time a real estate office goes down. As though if the person hadn’t bought his Jag, the business wouldn’t go bust.
            ===
            Another worthy poem: Robert Frost’s

            The Road Not Taken
            Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
            And sorry I could not travel both
            And be one traveler, long I stood
            And looked down one as far as I could
            To where it bent in the undergrowth;

            Then took the other, as just as fair,
            And having perhaps the better claim,
            Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
            Though as for that the passing there
            Had worn them really about the same,

            And both that morning equally lay
            In leaves no step had trodden black.
            Oh, I kept the first for another day!
            Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
            I doubted if I should ever come back.

            I shall be telling this with a sigh
            Somewhere ages and ages hence:
            Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
            I took the one less traveled by,
            And that has made all the difference.

            And then, of course there’s always “Footprints”

            Carolyne L 🍁

          • Brian Martindale

            Carolyne:
            The herd instinct is alive and well (as it always has been). People don’t seem to realize that they must consciously buck trends, question their accepted trends’ validities even, to become free thinking beings. Only then can they make informed decisions to either stick with the crowd or go their own, often lonely, ways. For most Realtors, it seems, thinking just a little bit, let alone deeply, is just too hard; they are simply, willingly allowing themselves to be “Blowed In The Wind” (thanks Bob). Like a little blue Man O’ War jelly floating on the oceans’ surfaces, whichever way the wind blows is where they end up, usually dried out and dead on some lonely washed-up wannabe shoreline.
            Realtors need to have a well developed philosophy about the meaning of life (besides how many dollars it will take for them to be happy) before they can truly be deemed to be professionals. I believe that medical doctors are cut from that cloth. Life, in and of itself, has no meaning—-other than what we decide to make of it for ourselves—except for the mindless, instinctive drive to procreate. Education, through reading classics and newly minted psychological abstracts, can enhance one’s understanding of one’s self. Fully understanding one’s self leads to an awakening of the sleeping, up-until-then culturally indoctrinated mind. To that end ORE needs to undergo an awakening of sorts along this line of thinking. We (ORE members, except me; I’m happily retired) are all about shouting out about ourselves. We need to be more about looking pensively inward in a self-examining manner to determine really what our motives for being are. A little quiet time spent between the pages is not a bad thing. It may be worth more per hour spent, future-dollar-wise, than the money-grubbing rushaholics give it credit for. But, of course, for anyone to give any credence to these thoughts, they would have had to have read this thread…which the vast majority of Realtors have not and will not, so…as Ross said in a previous comment herein, he, you, I and a few others of like minds who contribute herein are likely wasting our time opining herein. Pity, not for us, but for them. They know not what they know not.
            Note: If anyone, anonymously launches attacks against my/our thoughts herein, claiming that we are simply arrogant by nature, they mark themselves as simply defending their indoctrinated belief systems from an emotional standpoint, which is really just a negative knee-jerk reaction (with emphasis on the jerk part). Got my mudslinging garbage-can-lid shield up and ready to repel; let ‘er fly defenders-of-the-faith!

          • I could not have said it better, Brian.

          • Arguably the best way to teach is by example. And, Carolyne, you shone and continue to do so. And regarding to the use of the word “game” with respect to business; from a higher perspective, life is indeed a game. And in that game, we all have choices. Some make the “right” choices, and others not. But who determines what is right?

  • Rosa Powell

    excellent take on this controversial issue. I have successfully completed dual agency transactions and collected both ends of the fee, without guilt!

    • Thanks Rosa. Over my 4+ decade career, I’ve successfully sold my own listing on countless occasions, usually from an open house, with all parties quite satisfied with the results. And I have always collected both ends of the commission. If handled honestly, ethically, intelligently and in strict accordance with regulations, there’s no reason to create a negative outcome. I believe that what the politicians are up to now with their meddling is purely political.

      • Rosa Powell

        I agreed.

  • Peter

    I’m an agent in BC and have never “double ended” anything in my career….and neither has any other licensee. The current standard form listing contract states a total amount of commission owed to the listing brokerage by the seller, and how much commission the listing brokerage will LOSE if they have to rely upon a cooperating brokerage to find a willing buyer. As an industry, we owe it to ourselves not to perpetuate the use of incorrect terminology that comes along with negative stigma and negative connotations of how we get paid. Our role is to correctly inform the public on real estate related issues…let”s set the record straight on this one.

    • An interesting practice, Peter. If I understand you correctly, a BC sales rep can still sell their own brokerage’s listing, which is as it should be. However, since the buyer is never a client (the default position in Ontario) in such cases, but remains a customer, it’s technically not what we in Ontario refer to as a “double-ender”, which involves two clients. The listing agent has a duty of honesty to the customer, but not the duty normally owed to a client of confidentiality. Am I correct?