By Barry Lebow

A Facebook friend messaged me from across Canada to say she was torn about staying or leaving the firm where she now works. She asked me, “When does one know when it is time to leave?”

For some, it is the allure of more money. That makes some sense but not if the trade-off is that more money comes with lack of training, lack of strong management, lack of strong brand and basically being left on one’s own. That is a silly scenario, yet in real estate it is chosen by the unwise and too often.

Others leave because of a clash between them and another associate. I went through four grades in school with the same bully in each of my home room classes. Was I supposed to leave the school? In the end, I confronted the bully and life went on.



Some leave because of real or perceived conflicts with management. The manager is not around, the manager or broker plays favourites, or worse – the manager or broker competes. That is not uncommon and would not sit well with me either.

But the No. 1 reason to leave is ethics. Ethics are essentially a code of conduct that we each live by.  I am not totally ethical. When I can, I break the Highway Traffic Act and the rules of the road anywhere in North America. I would not cheat you or rob you but, damn, if I can get away with speeding, I am going to speed. We all have our own codes.

There are so many different ethics. There are religious ethics, there are our own family ethics, there are the ethics of our society and there are also the ethics of an office.

The office ethics reflect on who you are and what you stand for. You can be in direct conflict with the moral direction of your peers (which starts at the top) and with what lies within you. Some offices have ethics that allow them to function where the only thing that matters is making a deal at any expense. The deal-driven office is obsessed with the bottom line. Other offices have ethics where the clients and customers dominate and all dealings are to ensure they get treated fairly over all else.

Not sure if you should stay or leave? Ask yourself, what are the ethics of your present office and are they in sync with your own values and beliefs? If not, it’s time to move on.

And when you go to move on, don’t jump without verifying the ethics of the new office that is soliciting you. They may be worse than what you leave behind.

Ethics – over all else.

I hope this helps my friend make her decision.

Barry Lebow, FRI, Master-ASA, ABR, SRES, is one of Canada’s most recognized real estate authorities. Now in his 51st year of professional real estate, Barry has been honoured by many real estate associations for his work in the profession. He has testified in more than 500 trials across North America. He is the founder of the Accredited Senior Agent designation program. A teacher, trainer and educator, he is a broker at Re/Max Ultimate Realty in Toronto. Contact Barry by email.

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