I have fielded an increasing number of calls recently from members who are frustrated by what they describe as rampant unprofessionalism among their fellow REALTORS®.
The complaints started in 2020, when at the height of the global pandemic everyone was still unsure about what lay ahead. Some used the turmoil as an excuse to start conducting their business in an uncharacteristically uncooperative manner.
Two years later, the issues not only persist but are worse, if our call logs are an accurate representation of what is happening within the local real estate community.
The most common complaints come from REALTORS® who feel for various reasons that other REALTORS® are ignoring their obligations to their peers under Article 3 of the Code of Ethics, as well as under the Brokers Act, in pursuit of the easiest and quickest sale. The different scenarios presented to me are not illegal or unethical, and the complainants are not necessarily looking to file a formal ethics grievance. Most of the time they just want to be heard. The best I’ve been able to offer is a sympathetic ear. More recently, I have committed to help remind our members of the cooperation and professionalism that is the bedrock of the entire industry.
Simple communication will prevent most problems. If your listing draws 20 offers and you only respond to the one agent representing the “highest and best,” then you leave the other 19 agents hanging out to dry with their clients. Being accessible, returning phone calls in a timely manner and replying to emails will ensure that all parties are able to represent their clients effectively, regardless of who wins the contract.
Do what you say you are going to do. If you use the coming soon feature in the MLS, it should not be as cover for a pocket listing. If you expect multiple offers (and who doesn’t right now?), then counsel your seller clients to engage in a process that is open, transparent and gives everyone a level playing field. If you publicize, for instance, that you will take offers through 5pm on a Sunday, advise your clients that it is likely in their best interest to wait to review all offers until after the deadline. If your client insists on reviewing offers as they are submitted, then change the listing details and private remarks to be more accurate so other agents know exactly what to expect and can set the right expectations with their clients.
The National Association of REALTORS® Clear Cooperation policy lays out how the MLS should be used to support cooperation and open competition among brokers. If you are not familiar with the policy, then I encourage you to review it on the Realtracs site. Remember also that the Code of Ethics by which every REALTOR® commits to abide is known as the golden rule for how you treat clients – and each other.
It may be easy to try and justify certain behaviors when there are so few listings and so many buyers. If it makes you money now, then maybe there is no immediate incentive to do things differently. But the market will inevitably change, and the people you alienate now could be on the other side of the table next time.
So, I remind and encourage all our nearly 1,000 members to treat your fellow REALTORS® the way you expect them to treat you. Ground your business in character, ethics and professionalism and you will find success in any market.
– CEO, Dave Chaney