Re: Can We Call Ourselves Professionals? (REM, November and December 2013)
I have to respond to Lloyd Manning’s December article with a resounding “Harumpf!”
First, let’s be clear: I am an old fogey. I am 60. But this story is a classic case of “the world is going to rack and ruin” and “the youngins don’t know what they’re doing” and “the world ain’t what it used to be”. These sorts of vague accusations about Realtor or industry ethics bother me, because I have experienced the opposite.
In my experience, the number of greasy numbskulls in this business has been on a steady decline since I entered it in 2000 and since I first experienced it as a consumer, since the late 1970s. I remember agents who didn’t know their lock box codes, who forgot to show up for appointments, who simply could not fill out an offer coherently, let alone legally or properly. Who didn’t have solvent clients and lied about that. Agents who had the co-operating broker do the listing agent’s running around from sheer unapologetic laziness; who obviously saved themselves another trip across town by copying their client’s initials or time of signature into a document; who clearly lied about having multiple offers or being related to the seller; and sellers who covered up the fact that they themselves were licensed Realtors.
This list is barely the beginning. Manners? Huh! You’ve got to be kidding! The ability to listen to, and explain things to, their clients? Huh! Are you nuts? Ethics? Ya, right: (Hey buddy, if you put in a low-ball offer on my listing, then I can tell this joker tonight I have multiple offers…so you owe me, remember?)
I will tell you where the largest ethical front line holes still are: blind multiple offers (if we can post listings on MLS, we can certainly electronically register to CREA all offers on any property, plain and simple. I’ve been drawing blank stares every time I bring up the inherent corruption in blind multiple offering since I entered real estate); and identity requirements if considering ratting on our less-than-pure-minded altruistic colleagues. Who in their right mind wants to quit their own struggling career for a lengthy fraught period to possibly catch, more probably just make an enemy of, the petty thief standing in the office next door? No one. Duh!
Ethics can be taught. But frankly, they aren’t taught by lecturing us on ethics during a one-day or one-week frivolous credit course with a pass grade for mere attendance. Ethics likely aren’t taught with anything much longer, drier or tougher, either. They are taught by osmosis, as consequence, together with being taught how to succeed – which in this business, no one cares enough to teach us. Really. I mean that.
When we join this profession, must we shadow a high-production Realtor for a month? No. Are the seasoned required to provide that shadow? No. Are we taught ethnicity, personality and cultural differences in varying client approaches to determining best prices, contractual obligations and negotiations? No.
Are we taught to turn off our gadgets every day at a set time, to respect that in others and get to work on time in the morning, or how to accept no-harassments Sunday mornings, and not to cancel our date with our husband for a goof (posing as client) who may not value our time as he shops languidly for a house and treats us like a Sherpa up his self-designed Mt. Everest? No.
Are we hammered with ethical scripts to memorize and objection handling phrases to know off by heart and counselled on how to handle control freaks? No. Does anyone go with us to break our fear of door knocking? No.
Never mind overall time managements skills, how to overcome shyness with domineering or rude strangers or domineering or rude Realtors, or how to avoid the low-lying money grabbers that pose as office guest speakers. Never a word. But we know the dire implications of measuring a room incorrectly. Bravo! Aren’t we professional!
Neurologists and motivational speakers say that you simply cannot stop thinking about the elephant in the room when told to stop thinking about the elephant in the room. The brain does not work that way. You must think instead very hard about the tiger. Poof! The elephant vanishes.
I take umbrage at Mr. Manning’s questioning that ethics can be learned by being taught. There are real estate gurus in this industry teaching ethics and none of their conferences or speeches are titled “Ethics”. We don’t get credits for these folks. Their talks are titled “How to increase your business production level” – or “Sales talk”. Because if we meet a ton of strangers, provide good service, learn how to work smart, communicate clearly, don’t ever lie and grow our businesses over time (with the learned skills of time management, dealing with different human natures, knowing how and when to delegate and plan, how to finesse our language during client and Realtor communications, and insisting we take time off to balance our lives outside this business) we will, most likely, be ethical professional and respected Realtors.
I loudly say no, we absolutely must not “recommit to traditional values” – ugh! Please, not the 1980s again. We now already do have “real life examples” of ethical quandaries brought into our self-regulation classrooms. And pardon me, speak for yourself please, when you say, “Until Realtors start trading greed for improved ethics these problems will never be solved.”
Can we bring pride to the brokerage bullpens please? To our chat rooms? Our elders? Bring front-line anecdotes to review boards? Good grief!
Re/Max Escarpment Realty