By Christopher Seepe

What one word uniquely identifies an unethical, self-serving and/or negligent real estate professional?

We’ve all met Realtors who we feel should not have been licensed without a more thorough assessment of their propriety and morals. We know they aren’t acting in their client’s best interest, perhaps for reasons including financial pressures, lack of experience, poor training and skills or self-serving interests.

This last category perhaps bears the brunt of the wrath of most other Realtors. This (low) class of Realtor erodes the public’s assessment of and confidence in our industry’s professionalism, which Canadian organized real estate has so far failed to resolve.



To be able to instantly identify with a prevalent issue, current event or even a product, we create easily remembered “catchy” names and phrases. We have brand names, trademarks, jingles, mottos, taglines and even monikers for serial killers like Jack the Ripper.

For centuries, everyone – well, at least every woman – knew about men (mostly) hounding women for sexual favours in return for some offered benefit to the woman, who was otherwise punished if she declined. But without a name for the issue, no one discussed it. It couldn’t be defined as a problem and then resolved. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the phrase “sexual harassment” was coined. When it was finally given a name, the issue was forced into the open and became top of mind, especially in the media. Now we have legislation, a code of conduct, corporate governance and a body of social studies. It’s no longer “overlooked” and it is simply not acceptable behaviour.

One might say that a person’s reality is defined by the scope of their vocabulary. How do you tell someone to go and buy champagne unless you have a name for it? But does the concept of champagne even exist in the reality of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who live on two dollars a day?

Pop culture creates new words every day – tweet, cougar, Google things, bootylicious, Skype people, slag someone, selfie. The operative purpose of the name is instant recognition and cognitive association with the intended subject or action without a lengthy preamble or explanation.

So, what one word could uniquely identify an unethical, self-serving and/or negligent real estate professional? I propose the contraction “realturd”, defined as, “A person, more commonly (and incorrectly) known as a real estate agent, who acts negligently as an agent for the lease, sale or purchase of buildings and land without duty and care to their clients, acting selfishly in their own interests.”

And before more conservative readers get their shorts in a knot, Dictionary.com defines turd as, “1. a piece of excrement; 2. a mean, contemptible person.” Is turd a swear word? That’s debated extensively on the Internet. Like thousands of other words, it can be a rude word depending on its implied (or inferred) use.

While the character of self-serving people is not necessarily mean or contemptible, their actions most certainly are, especially if they violate the (fiduciary) trust their client placed in them by placing their own interests above their client’s. Doing so dramatically negatively impacts the public’s perception of our industry’s professionalism, arguably the single most pressing issue in Canadian real estate today. Solve the professionalism issue and many other major issues will lessen or disappear.

People handle and express their discontent in different ways; some rudely, some politely. Venting remains an on-going debate as does the use of swear words on public airwaves. If one believes that feelings indicate what is important to us, then verbal venting is atonement to our feelings to guide us in choosing what we say. “Realturd” is intended to be condescending and offensive like any “swear” word. It’s a comprehensive one-word assessment by the speaker of the recipient’s credibility, professionalism, values, morals and character. Such recipients may not care about the name-calling but it’s not about them. It’s about their reputation, which often precedes a real estate professional.

If the Realtor recipient doesn’t care about their reputation then they’re in the wrong business anyway and won’t be around long. Unfortunately, each realturd still takes our industry reputation down a notch. One rarely hears the professionalism called into question of doctors, dentists, engineers, surveyors and other such professionals and industries but how truly proud are most Canadian Realtors about their industry as a whole?

There are always reasons why wise sayings come into existence. They’re most often based on insightful observations about human behaviour. The early bird gets the worm but the contrarian second mouse gets the cheese.

How well has politeness and complacency served us with the people who failed to rein in the culprits in the first place? Perhaps a new strategy should be the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  • RossK

    Chris,

    Are you really serious comparing REALTOR to Windows or Apple??? REALTOR is a fabricated word created by the National Association of REALTORS who even in Canada owns shared Trademarks with CREA.

    I can open Windows real estate or Apple real estate tomorrow with no fear of prosecution. I cannot open REALTOR Computers or Realtor Computers any more than I can open Google real estate.

    Your answer only clarifies why your Profession is in such a poor poor state.

    YOU CANNOT CRITICIZE, DEGRADE OR PUT DOWN FELLOW MEMBERS OR REGISTRANTS. Are you really serious or are you a nut!!!

    • Alan M.

      Ross,

      As the Master puppeteer of REM sock-puppets, are you seriously asking Chris, how serious he is!

      • RossK

        How serious are we?
        In my home town, this year of 500 random sales were reviewed of detached homes with 367 including common errors in their listings which breach REBBA and where other registrants have been charged and found guilty by RECO. On realtor.ca today, Ontario has about 75,000 listings posted which represent about 70,000 unique properties ( you know that little territorial issue that causes Canadians to be lied to each month) of which about 64,000 are resale homes. 2 random samplings of that group last week totaling over 1000 unique resale homes in the GTA shows 89% have errors that create a breach of REBBA and the direct instructions of the registrar to registrants through RECONNECT.

        That’s how serious we are!

        • Alan M.

          Ross,

          I believe I’ve acknowledged on numerous occasions the problems of competence and ethics within organized real estate. I often see several mistakes when I have occasion to review a competitors listing — so your statistics would come as no surprise to me.

          Your point about how we’re (industry members) hobbled when it comes to speaking up and out was valid, and I’ve actually spoken to that point recently on REM, as well. However, by compiling statistics as you have you’ve essentially made Chris’ main point in a less subjective manner. In an industry such as this, someone who breaches the applicable Article or Standard to: muzzle-up, is probably going to be embraced more as a “whistle blower” — let’s hope.

          It’s good that you have a technical understanding of trademarks, but you overemphasize this understanding against the real underlying value of these such things, to this industry. When we damage the goodwill associated with a trademark entity or alter its historical meaning that’s the tragedy that we need to focus on, because their real value lies in their perceived goodwill.

          Chris Seepe is a uniquely lucid contributor to REM, who actually doesn’t pussy-foot around. Should Chris be a nut, then apparently more of us need to get nuts, to correct the insane aspects of organized real estate.
          I apologize for my use of the word “nut” in the context that I’ve used it, as I believe many could find it offensive.

          Ross, you should try and be as equally aware about using words like “nut” as you are around the technicalities of trademark law. Ross, you really seem to have difficulty knowing when you should load your cannon.

  • Carolyne L

    We need another new word in the real estate lexicon. I submit: “expertience.”

    Auto correct doesn’t like it.

    Does your website tell the world you are an expert, with experience in all-things real estate? That the term “expertience” applies to your career.

    Audaciously offered up to would-be clients and customers, as the one to call when you want to buy or sell a farm, (but the extent of your real knowledge is that cows and horses, although both farm animals, require different kinds of barns, with different kinds of support ground to stand on, and they both have four legs and a tail, or you took dressage lessons or owned and boarded your own horse.)

    And maybe had family who owned a dairy farm, and when you visited as a child you were intrigued by the centrifuge separating the cream (to make butter by hand) from the unpasteurized milk, fresh from the milking machine, and still warm?

    You have participated in helping folks buy and sell (alluding to your expertise in that arena), a waterfront condo penthouse in the heart of the city, (new-build pre-construct sale, and/or resale), a POTL (RECO teaches it’s a freehold, not a condo); zero lot line properties that were sold initially as government projects, with land leases, later bought by the owners;

    An architect designed freehold mansion on conservation land in cottage country (but you don’t know anything about flood plains and riparian rights and water frontage and lot lines that extend into the water.) And boat docks treated as separate entities, as well as lockers and parking spots. And you helped with a city coach house… Oh, my!

    You post on your website that you have worked with residential builders from Hamilton to Oshawa, from Lake Ontario, north to Timiskaming, and know those and all areas in-between, well. So that makes you an expert with experience in those venues. You really believe it or you wouldn’t advertise it. Another example of “expertience.”

    You know all about motels, restaurants, gas bars, and hotel bars; barbershops and mall leases. And of course, medical buildings. (Once a building has been used for medical purposes, X-rays, dental mercury disposal, etc. it often cannot ever be reassigned as anything else.)

    The all encompassing city to city mapping MLS systems are wonderful. But will the broader systems access reinforce in the agents’ minds that because they have access to that information, it enables them to use the newly coined word, “expertience?” Out in the field? By adding their accreditations and entitlements to their (advertising) websites?

    Many websites already indicate that the agents and their teams cover these multitudes of territories and experience already. Now with access to surrounding MLS, the definition of area expert might actually expand?

    Just thinking out loud.

    Respectfully
    Carolyne L 🍁

  • cseepe

    (Author of the article) My responses to the bloggers below:

    Alan M; Getting a rise out of the registrants was the exact intention of the article. If people talk about the word (whether appropriate or not), then the issue will become top of mind. Someone can always come up with a better descriptor that deals with the issue but no one’s done it so far and the issue of poor real estate industry professionalism has been around for decades.

    Ross K and Harvey Exner: CREA’s trademark is the capitalized word REALTOR, not the lower case word ‘realtor’ that is used elsewhere in the world, especially throughout the USA. English words like ‘realtor’ can’t be trademarked or copyrighted, which is why Microsoft has several times had their ‘Windows’ trademark challenged. According to Wikipedia, in 2002 an American court rejected Microsoft’s claims. In February 2004, a judge denied Microsoft’s request for a preliminary injunction and raised “serious questions” about Microsoft’s trademark. I can’t speak to the legal defensibility of REALTOR as a trademark but I believe that the transformative use of words remains a right of parody and fair use. And I’m exercising my democratic right to free speech and expression of opinion, especially in the press.

    If I thought for an instant that I was violating the Code of Ethics (I think there’ are a lot more than three so I’m not sure what you’re referring to) by writing this article then I’d never have done it.

    Ahria: I acknowledged the offensiveness of the word and even provided research on the meaning of ‘turd’ as well as an explanation for why I believe the term should be necessarily offensive. Who’s going to pay any attention to ‘bad rrealtor’ and other polite conciliatory words and phrases? No one has so far or we wouldn’t have the universally-tolerated unprofessional conduct our industry suffers from today. I’m pretty sure professionals from other industries have offensive words in their industry jargon (separate from the mainstream words use by the public)? Let’s just listen to mainstream TV. The rest of your comments seem to say the same thing I did.

    Brian: While I am a commercial realtor and I sincerely appreciate your support, I am involved with residential realtors are the time, either on commercial deals, the odd residential transaction (my commercial clients also own residential properties), through networking, through my work with a landlords association (comprising many realtors as members, and just as a member of the public receiving unsolicited door knocks at my home. I’m not in the residential trenches day by day per se but I don’t feel that lessens my objective perspective of the way things are in this industry. And my comments weren’t levelled at just residential realtors. There are some really unscrupulous commercial realtors too, although perhaps on a much smaller percentage basis because of the arguable barrier to entry to be a fulltime commercial realtor.

    General: There have been extensive references to gender inequality in the comments, which clearly shows that this also remains an issue in our industry despite the high ratio of women to men. My article has nothing to do with gender inequality. There is no exclusivity on unethical behaviour between the sexes. Both do it.

    • Alan M.

      Chris,

      I understood that you were trying to get a rise out of people, and if you can get people’s (Registrant’s) attention in this business to intelligently engage a topic you deserve a medal. My point was that reader’s should have just accepted the truth of it, in what you were trying to convey and the why of it. The vast majority of members either don’t understand the extent of the sad state of affairs that we’re in, don’t care, or have just accepted the situation as being hopeless.

      When CREA agreed that as an industry we would capitulate and commence to offer a product that promoted an initial “No Agency” relationship, by default we surrendered our ability to defend and promote Full Agency in the way that we should, over No Agency as just being a contingency or a fall-back position — that wasn’t even available to us without the written consent of the consumer. We surrendered ourselves and our industry to be impaled by a degradation that worsens as we exsanguinate out from around our collective wound. As when a living creature suffers a serious injury, survival usually depends on whether anything critically important (such as an organ) has been damaged. As an industry, what have we placed as being of critically more importance than: Agency Representation? If any one thing was to be described as the “life blood” of this industry, wouldn’t “Agency” be that one thing?

  • Carolyne L

    Brian says: “Call a spade a spade.” (As in: tell it like it is…) And interjects that the topic of the Cseepe article is expected, and confirmed, as the norm in the industry.

    Cseepe writes, mid article:
    “It wasn’t until the 1960s that the phrase “sexual harassment” was coined. When it was finally given a name, the issue was forced into the open and became top of mind, especially in the media. Now we have legislation, a code of conduct, corporate governance and a body of social studies. It’s no longer “overlooked” and it is simply not acceptable behaviour.”

    It might be worth noting also, that until 1972-73, women were the property (chattels) of their husbands, (this might be of interest to recent immigrants who may not know the Canadian history), and up until then could not own property in just their own name; and in another REM article it was pointed out recently that back then, the writer noted a woman could not have a credit card in her own name; she had to be a secondary card holder on her husband’s account (if he permitted it). Is that long ago and far away?

    Even today a woman, setting up a business, might get asked by her banker to have her husband sign paperwork to “authenticate her,” (make her whole) maybe even as a guarantor. Careful. Not allowed to ask those questions of a woman. There are even women bankers who do such. And believe it is not only okay, but a requirement to show who’s boss. Sometimes an intimidation tactic.

    The particular manager certainly was cut from different cloth. (According to Brian, maybe not.) I don’t want to be misunderstood; I am not throwing stones, but rather trying, after all these years, still, to understand how our industry correlates the terms: professional / UNprofessional, again relative, beginning with Heino’s article, and Marty’s, Stan’s, Cseepe’s, and now Brian’s comment.

    Just another example, that happens to be true. You might recall back in the early nineties, lots of Board controlled MLS provider systems were being entertained in the industry, at the time of Sterling.

    For us there was an unusually large number in attendance at a called Board meeting held at a large rented space venue due to needing to make room for the anticipated turnout.

    By then, working on my own completely, I got to sit beside the prior manager, who had plunked himself into the empty adjacent seat. I always dress in a business suit, and he always was less than casual, pants falling down (and people always commented that he had trouble keeping his pants up). Office Ha-ha.

    It was always embarrassing to introduce him to clients. It was an inside joke that he could be mistaken as the maintenance man; he was often seen up a ladder changing lightbulbs, trying to hold his pants up. Literally. Or pushing office trash wagons through the mall.

    There had actually been a “dress for success” guest speaker at the office while I was away on a Broker course, who, oddly enough, I was later told, had selected as the one appearing to have the most professional businesslike appearance, was the quiet new hire I mentioned in a post ages ago; the distinguished looking young undertaker.

    Combined with his quiet demeanor, just right haircut, and gentle manners, well-spoken, not raucous, the guest speaker had chosen him as how best to show the image one might expect of a business ‘professional’ as a REALTOR(r) might be viewed by the public. (That’s not to say a suit is always necessary or that agents should present in a somber manner.)

    Oddly enough, the manager seemed intimidated by him, made his office environment awkward and difficult, and the gracious young man left the business after only a few months.

    He would have made an excellent REALTOR(r), given the right tools, and a chance. So, why was he hired in the first place, might be a question.

    I digress!
    The MLS system presenter at the Board meeting “graciously waddled” (if you have ever been full-term pregnant, you know that is not a derogatory descriptor), around her stage podium.

    Even in her (not so) delicate ‘condition,’ she was very attractive, no question about it. Well-dressed, clean, and in good command and complete control of her topic presentation.

    We were seated in tiered rows theatre style … She was VERY pregnant, as could be seen from all seat locations, even high up in the auditorium. She had flown in from Fredericton, where she had developed her excellent product.

    I was very impressed with her system. However in the end she did not win the contract.

    But after all the years, the big memory of the meeting on-going during several hours… was not her program or her presentation, it was what was going on beside me; the manager’s on-going “hots” for the lovely, well dressed pregnant woman presenter who looked like she might give birth any moment.

    He could hardly contain himself. He physically kept wiggling around in his seat. People sitting on the other side of him, in front and behind, heard his ooouuuw’s and ahhh’s (not about how good the MLS system presentation system was) about how he would like to get in her pants, saying even if she was pregnant. Such a beauty. Wondering how he could corral an opportunity to drive her back to the airport.
    How audacious is this?

    That was the worst I think I ever heard him relate. Thought I would throw up (pardon the vernacular). But as usual, there was nothing to say or do. It is what it is. And surely this is not an isolated incident in our profession.

    Big decisions as some posters note; nothing changes till something changes… Ethics, Professional Standards… If everyone complained, extra Board and Council staff would be needed. (Brian said he was available for hire.)

    And like posters have experienced in complaint, nothing is to be achieved, saying it all was a waste of their time, since a leopard cannot change its spots. It’s not about real estate, or changing people’s personalities.

    Quite an industry we’ve been party to all the years. I always wondered if this was an anomaly or not.

    I am no prude, and I do understand that, yes, people will be people, wherever you find them. How can they demand or deserve respect in such an enabling environment as ours? I am not criticizing, but merely pointing out the perhaps not so obvious career antics of professionals.

    It’s a history that perhaps needs to have been talked about out in the open long before this.

    I didn’t come to my then new city location, knowing nothing and no one, as a novice / newbie in the field, on the turnip truck. Nearly 40 years old, 35 years ago.

    My success was purely by accident not because I was smart. After all, real estate ‘training’ is all theory. Anyone can memorize whole pages of text (and we had to, literally).

    What to do and say when you got invited in by a would-be client had never been part of the education. Many would be offered a drink. To accept? Many do.

    Many agents see the business in terms of adding a new friend to their ongoing collection. Does your banker see you as his friend, your dentist, your undertaker? Sometimes. Do they take you home to meet their spouse, offer to help you find a cleaning lady, and a vet? As part of their professionalism? Or invite you to spend the weekend out on their yacht?

    So, having nothing else to work with, except what I had learned in the licencing classroom textbook courses, I simply applied what I had learned in my prior different business “culture,” (where I had never heard Brian’s term, humping, on Wednesday’s or any other day).

    By applying what I did know, clients, mostly of the same business only mindset, seemed to appear as if by magic. Beyond wonderful and certainly beyond expectation.

    I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and spend another 16-18 hr day, “working in the field,” as would be expected of a real-life farmer, as a real estate farmer.

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Carolyne L

    As per Cseepe’s definition of a professional REALTOR(r) “term” at times…

    Is this not right up there with the embarrassing peeing in the coffee mug politician story currently in the news? The home repairman, who then poured his urine down the kitchen sink, rinsed out the mug, and wiped his hands on the dishcloth; and the owner was home… Don’t think for a moment such things don’t happen while listings are on the open market. Here is living proof.

    An agent showed, rather, inspect:viewed my listing. He was the only appointment that day, and I had to release the alarm system and reengage it when he left.

    Using the lockbox key, I re-opened the front door after he left. He had been inside about twenty minutes, (checking things out), and the odour was overwhelming. What on earth? Follow the nose.

    The culprit? The 2-pc washroom in the middle of the house floorplan, near the main floor laundry room. Lid up on toilet, but seat down; full view of ‘contents.’

    Full, right up to the brim with his bowel release. The stench was something unheard of. Needed to cover my nose. Completely overwhelming. Need a gas mask.
    Guess he really had to go. But how about using the flush???

    Opened doors and windows, sprayed disinfectant and waited outside, to air out the house.

    I had seen him use the lockbox key to enter and leave as I sat in my car, down the street, able to view the door to the listing. Thinking he would only be a few minutes since it wasn’t a showing appointment. He was alone.

    I know exactly and for certain who he is. A buddy of the torso mannequin fellow designated agent of the year registrant at the old hazing permitted office.

    He had been a bus driver who went into real estate. The one I wrote about who who invited me to CMA his brother’s high-end price house and help sell it, privately, cutting out the company.

    He had based his CMA invitation decision on my track record selling such properties and thought I might have a potential buyer up my sleeve. And get paid less commission that way, all cash. No thanks.

    I had refused. Guess he thought this effort was a payback. Time to use Cseepe’s new term? Quite appropriate in this situation as described.

    I highly recommend sellers install a hidden nanny-cam, if only temporarily while they are selling. Ideally app’d to their cell phone, so they can see for themselves what goes on during viewings of their house for sale, live, in real time.

    Is there a RECO rule for his behaviour? Proud to call himself a REALTOR(r)? Jealously is a terrible thing. How often do you turn the other cheek?

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Alan M.

    Chris,

    I think the main problem is that you could actually get a rise out of some experienced people with your tongue and cheek, impish, article.

    In a nutshell, we simply lack a courageous leader, to lead us out of the darkness.

  • RossK

    Chris,
    Isn’t the real problem the fact that you were required to break all 3 Codes of Ethics you are required to uphold simply to write this article? ( i’ll bet you are hoping RECO is not reading)
    Isn’t the real problem CREA has not stepped in and required this article be revised to include the proper use of CREA trademarks and disclaimers all members of CREA are required to follow? (although they let the press get away with it)
    Isn’t the real problem that every single organization in real estate now has a majority of members who would meet your new definition and thus they effectively control those organizations with their vote?

    In 2012 CREA ensured the demise of your profession and forced every real estate to change their rules or be kicked out of CREA, lose trademark rights and no longer have access to realtor.ca postings. That is now your reality Chris.

  • Ahria

    That is a terrible word and would further negatively impact the industry. We have a code of ethics that includes not undermining others in the industry. Should all know about another Realtor’s actions on a file? He or she would be tarred and feathered broadly without a hearing of some kind, bullied, really, by one Realtor who would broadcast that person as a Realturd as if we are in elementary school?

    Dealing with Realtors who are unprofessional is difficult, but a better complaint system and Brokers who actually care and don’t just play more games is required. Something is needed to make Realtors more accountable and detail oriented, knowledgeable, prifessional. I am dealing with a problematic Realtor now re. Contract details and a lack of timeliness and communication. He needs more education. Most Brokers seem to become defensive, it seems, and resent complaints, from my experience, so many complaints go unreported, in part to the idea that we should resolve issues ourselves. Actually, our supposedly co-operative system

  • Sparks

    Have new Realtors pay $5000. into a trust/bond fund as a condition of getting licensed. These funds would be like an insurance policy that states as long as the Realtor does not face any form of sanction it will be returned upon him/her leaving the business. This amount of money is immediately forfeited if sanctioned or fined for any wrong doing by the provinces governing body which overseas them. Perhaps the immediate loss of $5000. will improve their morality somewhat. Also if they are sanctioned or fined for unprofessional conduct they would have to replenish the trust/bond $5000. to stay licensed. This amount would be separate from any other monetary sanctions or fines given by the governing bodies. Being unprofessional would be very costly.

  • Harvey Exner

    We could start by remembering we are REALTORS and not Realtors

  • Wayne Woodman

    I like your new word but honestly believe we could correct our industry with a couple of tweaks– designated agency only with zero double dipping and harsher penalties for miscreants.

    • Rob Angus

      If limited dual agency was a problem, we’d see most complaints arise from situations involving limited dual agency; but we don’t.

      Most complaints arise from carelessness, second is a lack of understanding of the responsibilities of an agent, thirdly through a lack of clear communication and poor record-keeping.

  • Carolyne L

    Take me to your leader …

    Most men are good men. Those who elect to be businessmen are most often good businessmen. They do no harm. But there’s always the exception to the rule: the misogynist.

    Is everything old, really new again? Cseepe speaks in a just prior REM article. to the term ‘impropriety’ … Is that what this is? Perhaps a different kind of impropriety? And today, his coined four-letter second syllable portion of the i.d. word that is pretty much self-explanatory.

    The real estate office ‘leaders’ defined, as per Heino? in his recent article?

    An up close and personal view…

    Speaking of ‘characters,’ a branch office that was diametrically opposed to the so businesslike dark pin-striped suits of head office greats, a wonderment of dismay, eternally swept under the rug…

    Who would ever guess the back room antics that are just part of the inside operations in the real estate world.

    And historically in a few real estate offices, not dissimilar as in this food and restaurant article…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/female-chefs-take-a-stand-against-sexist-kitchen-culture/article26173044/

    This morning when I read the Globe article about misogyny in the world of the restaurant kitchen, it brought back memories that in part lead me to open my own boutique real estate company 25 years ago. Now 35 years in the industry.

    The branch manager met with me in the Boardroom one day and said (really), “You don’t belong here. You are different. I never have to check your work. Your production is amazing. You do too much business and no one can figure out how you do it.

    (I had put more than a dozen listings on the white boards in recent days. As fast as posted, the board was wiped clean. The manager re-entered them. Wiped again.) He continued: “It creates a lot of stress in the office, because I am accused of feeding you and we both know I don’t.

    “Why don’t you just open your own business? You think and operate like a business person, not a sales rep. You work in an unconventional manner.”

    It would be another three years before I did so, when I was nearly 50 years old, and took all my broker courses in one year, while continuing to produce business at nearly the same pace as always.

    Another ten years passed and that manager had retired and had gone back into sales part-time, and one day he registered an offer on one of my brand new listings.

    There were three legitimate registered offers on the property. His buyers were not successful because he misstated something to the seller, a retired vice-president of a major financial institution, who as a result elected to accept another agent’s offer, for the almost same offer price, and the property sold substantially above list price; and it was listed bang on the right (high) list price, even in a quiet market.

    Just a really nice place. In fact, I had been told it would never sell at the asking too-high price.

    I often heard that about my list prices. So it was not news to my ears. In just a few days there was a sold sign on the lawn, the above listing sale price logged at the Board MLS system.

    The curiosity was when I got a phone call a few days later when he saw the sale price posted, from the ex-mgr telling me what a great job I obviously had done for my seller, even so he had lost out. Interesting call, indeed.

    All I could say was, a genuine thank you. I didn’t have the heart to tell him why his otherwise good offer had not been accepted. He had made it so I couldn’t help him, by what he had told the seller about his buyers. As a result the seller thought he had lied to him. I couldn’t defend him.

    During an earlier period, a different ‘violation(?)’: At one time, office agent tours of new listings were conducted using a bus rental service. Agents were collected at each office, and returned to the office parking lot about three hours later, at the end of the tour.

    On a typical bus new listings’ tour there were pranksters; one such day, a male rep, wearing a lightweight trench coat, Columbo style, decided to be a ‘flasher,” flapping open his coat to reveal his erection pull cord sex toy strapped to his body and activated at will.

    Lots of laughter prevailed. What good advertising to the rental city bus driver, showing him how true real estate professionals behave, as he joined in the frolicking. Just one of the boys. How boring.

    Maybe that simply confirmed bus driver calendar days back at his depot. Not many women bus drivers back then.

    The women agents were invited to get up close and personal with the flasher, “com’on, just for a rub.” Some wearing show-all tank tops and short shorts, often when on tour in hot weather. (Afterall, they weren’t ‘doing any business??? They were only on a check out the new listings tour.) And these weren’t young girls. (Gotta remember, I was new in the real estate business and had no clue as to this sort of business ‘exposure,’ (pardon the pun), even so I had spent years in the corporate world.)

    One sales rep even “entertained” one of my sellers when she brought an offer on one of my listings, and nearly “fell out” of her tank top leaning over his kitchen table as we presented the paperwork.

    I was so obviously out of place in my sartorial white linen suit. And the seller in his pinstripe suit, his wife nudging him. That seller still tells that story about professional REALTORS(r).

    There was some drinking going on, always on the bus, a flask passed around, even so it was daytime hours, and it was not designated as a party-bus. The office owners were not on the bus.

    I was still quite new to the business. Until that day, I thought the agent was respectable, even had done a couple of offers with him. Some of the women enjoyed the randy environment. He had always been respectful to me. An oxymoron.

    Forever after that day, I always could only envision him in his trench coat, (he had no slacks on, only underwear) having lost all respect for him. Is this acceptable interaction in a real estate business day?

    And in another office, we worked in a bullpen office structure, four desks positioned pinwheel style around a pole that provided electric services. Each group of desks fanned out, visible to each other in the group of 24 agents.

    You couldn’t not (excuse the double negative) see the pegged up items against the soft walls of other groups.

    Everything from porno calendars of naked women with large breasts and backsides visible for everyone’s eyes, to a naked ‘pregnant’ mannequin torso perched on an agent’s desk shelf, high enough for all to view.

    Complete with adjacent sex toys, (to show how that baby got inside), not unlike what is now being proffered up in our schools’ teaching aids as part of the new curriculum, and recently shown as closeups on TV, so viewers could understand the children’s and teacher’s physical aids and teaching tools that would be used for instruction purposes.

    Perhaps the agent “sex toys were years ahead of its time.”

    The desk of the immediate adjacent agent belonged to the soon to be wife of a Corporate VP and she had just recently joined the office. Also new licencee.

    Next to her was a married immigrant woman, mother of a couple of teens. She was no stranger to hard work and long hours, who had been a manager at a Milk store, and only just had acquired her licence. Both tidy, casually well-dressed, pleasant, soft spoken women.

    As women, we were offended by, “the exposure,” but the office manager was long time good friends with the chief offender and said the fellow could do what he liked.

    He wasn’t about to challenge his friend. Get over it. It’s always been that way here.

    Some of the males in the office thought the particular offender was extremely comical, and was just trying to “get a rise” out of the office women.

    The agent had been and was best buddies with the two front desk women, and in the heat of summer he would wear short-shorts to the office, sit in the reception area, with his legs spread open with his private parts hanging visible for all and sundry to view, facing the glass walled closing rooms, even as female agents sat there waiting for their clients to arrive, needing to close the glass wall blinds.

    Likely there are readers who moved on who will recognize the described office environment.

    One of the long time top producer women in the office, also best friends with the office manager thought it was no problem and nothing could be done anyway. It’s just the way it is/was.

    Her friendships were more important, and she had been there for many years, and her friend actually did her transactions from time to time.

    And she helped him survive. He had a wife and a twelve year old daughter at the time, and he often flashed naked pictures of them to us as we walked by, to let us know he was ‘a family-man.’ And the manager brought unflattering photos of his own sleeping wife in their bed, to share at the office.

    The regional area manager had seen the office bullpen environment, regularly, and was not about to criticize, even when complaints were made. And head office could/would do nothing. What could they do? Fire half the office? Not.

    It overall was a top dollar producing branch, the only game in town, doing huge referral numbers.

    And I added to that branch productivity and became the number one rep in the whole region of about 3500 reps. That was a dangerous thing for me to have done.

    My first day at the office the manager asked what my annual earnings goal was. I was only a couple of years licenced, and had an amazing track record already. He said that my goal wasn’t realistic in our local marketplace. Set too high, I was sure to fail. I trebled it.

    VP’s didn’t want to upset that branch office applecart. What were they afraid of, we always wondered.

    The hazing procedure with new-hires continued long after we left.

    Then other new but top-producing people left also. But the offices they went to in some situations were not much different.

    Just how it is, in our industry, they were admonished. Because as Heino notes, people are people, wherever you find them.

    The really odd thing was that the chief perpetrator was not a producer at all; only an occasional deal but filled in for his friends on transactions and paid a cash cut.

    In those days nearly all offices were corporate, not franchises. So all agents were on splits, not paying monthly fees or costs to do business.

    No costs you say? Even a top producer was on a 50-50 split. So an agent who wrote 400k, contributed 200k annually to the office.

    But the office cost for the non-producers, the NIBT, at branch level was even higher. It cost those agents nothing to be there, but they kept the desks full, and there was always the possibility of a deal or two to be added to the part-time agent school-teacher’s income. Yes there were a few part-time agents.

    A particularly sad (hazing) situation one day: a back door from the mall car park area to the bullpen area was always closed and locked.

    Bang bang bang on the door. Someone must have forgot their keys. Someone went to open the door, and in an arm-waving flurry, in came the new hire immigrant woman, tears streaming down her face, crying her eyes out, visibly shaken.

    She needed taxi cab fare for the waiting driver. She had gone out without taking her handbag.

    And she had needed to call an emergency cab ride back to the office.

    She had been invited (to a hazing initiation) to a welcome aboard lunch by the manager’s several office buddies, including the top producer woman, so the new rep had unwittingly travelled in one of their cars, to the lunch destination – as it turned out – a Steele’s Ave. lunchtime strip club with tabletop topless dancers.

    She had never been to a place like that. And said later that she had wondered why I hadn’t been invited to her welcome lunch, but when she got there she understood why.

    She had to ‘escape’ that place and called a cab to bring her back to the office, arriving at the back door with no way to get inside. No keys.

    That poor woman was never the same, and left the business not many months later. My heart broke for her. A really good, genuine old-country type person. This never should have happened.

    The manager simply said there was nothing he could do. Boys will be boys. She a was an adult; she should have known better.

    In the same timeframe, I was new to that office. It was fresh corn season and we were told the manager always had a corn roast in his backyard. So the whole office was invited.

    I rarely attended get-togethers, but spouses were invited so we went. The quiet VP spouse woman mentioned above arrived soon, also. No one had yet met her soon to be husband.

    Immediately a loud voices fracas ensued. WHAT was going on???
    Lots of yelling and threatening to call police.

    The chief office offender, with a few drinks in him, and not recognizing her spouse, had tried to shove a corn cob under her clothes, up between her legs. He just couldn’t help it as he crept up behind her. People needed to expect his raucous behaviour. No harm intended. She let out a scream.

    And her spouse, soon to be husband, the corporate VP caught him in the act and threatened him royally to back off. A tousle was averted.

    A complaint to the manager was tossed off as the fellow was ‘just that way’ no harm intended. Nothing to get excited about.

    Worse encounters at staff only office manager’s Christmas party. The fellow dressed as Santa, and everyone had to sit on Santa’s knee to get their gift and enjoy his “erection.” No one said a word, as one by one, facial expressions said it all.

    I never attended another office event, likewise the other new women.

    Could quote many more such instances. One by one we all left that office.

    I was invited back, by head office, several times. It was a good, no, great company, just an odd branch, that ultimately disbanded.

    Does this still happen in real estate offices? How would this misogyny be handled in your office in today’s human rights environment? Can anyone out there speak to this topic? Does Cseepe’s term ‘impropriety’ apply?

    btw – the specific offender was voted Board “agent of the year” for his “volunteer” work in the community. And he had explained that the torso was a “teaching aid.” Teacher of what?

    First Heino’s article, and now Stan’s, makes one wonder: Is it possible that this is still how it is, today, in the real estate office world? In some places? Does this behaviour fall under the ethics, or lack of, description?

    If so, how would a new hire know what to expect? And or how to engage, or not? And still have a professional ‘career.’

    And how, if she became super successful and was told by a colleague that she should stay home so he could have more business, that he needed to feed his family and because she was there, it meant he was losing business to her, would that topic be addressed in today’s environment in the real estate world?

    This behaviour is not about sex; it’s about control, and disrespect for women in general. It has nothing to do work. And production levels. People don’t talk about it because it is embarrassing. I’m not a women’s libber by any definition, but certain topics should not be swept under the rug.

    Accreditations and degrees and further industry ethics education is not likely to address this ‘life-topic.’

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Brian Martindale

      Ah…realturds vs fauxturds? To be one or not to be one; that is the question.
      Carolyne:
      The fact that Chris is a commercial Realtor and not a residential Realtor speaks volumes about what one sees going on within the residential business side from a more objective standpoint whereby one is not trying to defend one’s end of the business culture, and “culture” is the key word. A certain cultural personality type (not ethnic etc.) whereby anything goes in one’s quest for money, adventure with members of the opposite sex/same sex (married or otherwise) and all ’round party times is far too often drawn to the residential real estate sales game. Loose lips sink ships and loose morals sink relationships, both at home and within the business end, pun intended. Commercial real estate representatives sometimes look down their noses at the stereotypical residential hack…with good reason(s). Realturds are always very, very UNprofessional; fauxturds/wannabes are still learning the ropes as they falsely believe that they need to “fit in’, again, pun intended.
      My experience is thus: what you, Carolyne, related, is often the norm. Everybody who has a nine-to-five job knows that Wednesday is hump day, but for realturds every day is hump day. Hell, one of my managers from way back in the eighties was commonly spoken of by those who knew her (well) to have consummated many of her deals on her back, and she still was elevated to a managerial position guiding and recruiting newbies…HAH! The business always has been, and often continues to be the barnyard of miscreants wherein the good guys/good gals must muck about the business stoically, as outsiders, with waist-high hip-waders in order to steer clear of the realturds’ messes
      I can see it now; CREA…Canadian Realturd Enema Association. Hope you (CREA)and the upper echelon ORE (Other Realturd Enemaniacs) realturds are proud of your accomplishments, because realturdism flows from the top down into the giant churning toilet bowl of in-the-field realturd miscreant deviant behaviour masquerading as squeaky-clean Blue Duck sanitization beads.
      Over and out; I’m flushing this whole thing from my boat-building mind. The paint is finally dry; time to complete the thing and get out on the lake where the air is fresh and no realturds can get to me, unless someone’s septic tank is too close to the water’s edge and the leaching bed is pooched. But I don’t know for the life of me know which would be worse.