Question Details

Morriah Mcph…,  in Atlanta, GA

Online ethics? I've recently joined Trulia and I am surprised with some agents attitudes towards other agents

Asked by Morriah Mcphie, Atlanta, GA Thu Feb 7, 2008

and even to some buyers and sellers. I don't know what the ethics rules are with other boards of Realtors but being a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, we have certain ethics that we have to adhere to such as not badmouthing other agents and not soliciting the business of sellers who are already listed with another broker when they are not specifically asked by the seller to interview for the listing. Just wondering if any other agents out there have noticed this trend of unethical business practices online?

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I have gone on many threads where Voices Agents have harshly judged a Realtor with limited info. I have commented on that several times (and been criticized for my defenses or hints that we should know more before judging.). I try to answer those questions with a position of first give benefit of the doubt, find out the facts, and go through a chain of command that is logical. Of course, in the interests of raising the standards of professionalism in our industry, I support vigorous enforcement actions against violators. Our state association even publicly proclaims that most problems result from lack of communication and asks the public what efforts they have made to resolve issues with the agent and broker.

I am all for cleaning up our own backyards when and where that is appropriate. I am disappointed to see and read the whipping of an agent without knowing the facts, and see that very quick judgement as a lack of responders ability to objectively assess a situation. As agent representatives, it behooves all of us to hone our skills in the ability to step back and be objective as this is necessary as we negotiate on behalf of our principals. When more info is needed, we need to recognize that fact in transaction negotiations, too.

As a loud critic of entry requirements to real estate that are too easy, I also advocate for more requirements for maintaining an active license than writing a check. I am a vocal critic of hiring Aunt Janie to represent your large financial and personal transaction, when Aunt Janie hasn't looked at MLS is 4 months, doesn't know what IDX is, has never heard of Trulia, and doesn't know where gets their listings. Yes, I will boldly encourage buyers and sellers to interview and choose their representatives carefully. If Aunt Janie is new, but dedicated to her profession, and has a great mentor/coach or broker behind her, Aunt Janie may be a great choice! Here, I express those viewpoints prior to the hiring of a representative.

The public comes here for straightforward answers. There are plenty of criticisms by the public of wanting real answers and not NAR rhetoric. I do understand those criticisms, and there are tradeoffs. The Code of Ethics is written to protect the public. The Articles which state we are not to solicit the active listing of another Realtor or criticize the current Realtor exists to protect listed sellers from being swarmed upon as potential leads for others' next listings. That same ethical guideline brings about a limitation in what we can or cannot say. It’s the tradeoff that comes from an article that is wholly written for the protection of the consumer, yet it may sometimes frustrate the consumer.

I don’t mind if any of my customers ever come online and ask questions of other agents. For the most part, much of the content on Trulia is very good, and helpful for the public. I don’t become guarded if my clients become more knowledgeable and ask if their listings appear on Trulia, or Googlebase, etc.....because they do appear there, as well as upgraded Showcase listings on Better educated clients are most welcome by me.

I have wondered if a Q & A that asks “what more can be done to sell my property” and receives helpful suggestions of marketing techniques crosses the line of ethics violation, or encourages us as an industry to be better stewards for the public.

I do not support Realtor bashing, nor soliciting of an existing listing, but I do support a better educated public. I also support consumer choice, and realize that limited service listings may not include the same set of services and options. I try to mention that in my posts, also. I have seen responses on threads criticize a current listing agent who is not doing, x, y, or z. If we don’t know what the listing contract says, we can’t criticize it. The seller may have opted for limited service at a lower fee.

I wholeheartedly support the NAR Code of Ethics, recognize the value of those articles for the public, and support an educated public and open forums. Many times, the answers are clear and easy....sometimes it gets a bit gray. It is possible to voice opposing opinions without attacking a prior poster. When I see that, it says something more about the attacker than the prior poster. Even without the NAR Code of Ethics, there are guidelines of courtesy, common sense, business ethics, and reasonable judgement. The best moderators are us.......the more we join in on threads in support of good content, the better.

6 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Ethical? Unethical?
Moral? Immoral?
Polite? Rude?
Real people? Fake People?
Licenced? Unlicensed?

This has been going on since Trulia B.C.
It happens on every website, every field. Except maybe the Attorneys.

In my opinion. Trulia is a very pleasant experience if ( BIG IF ) you only answer questions in your area, and expertise.
I have found people to be more professional when they are in striking distance.

My personal advise. Ignore the Ignorant.

You`ll sleep better.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Mr.P, Other/Just Looking in Arizona
There is a balance that needs to be found, somewhere between agent-bashing, and agent -coddling. As Deborah points out, the public isn't on Trulia asking questions, looking to hear us circle the wagons and protect our own.

For example, a recent question asked about an agent who advertised the client's property for $15,000 lower than the client approved. Many of us said 1) talk the the agent 2) talk to the broker 3) talk to the board. This is of course presuming that the information that the questioner gave us was accurate, and that the $15,000 wasn't merely a typo. A few said "hang her"... (okay, they didn't really say hang her, they only said report her to the board, she's acted criminally).

Our advice, here on Trulia, will quickly become useless if our answers become too circumspect, and protective of the offending agent by saying "oh, I'm sure she didn't mean it... talk to her... it was probably a mistake"... we need to be able to explain the options, fairly, politely and accurately without attacking or belittling the agent.

And I think we can do that, without broaching any ethics, nor soliciting the business of sellers who are already listed. They did, after all, approach us, with the question. Pointing out options to problems when questioned does not, in my opinion, constitute "badmouthing agents".
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Most of us who belong to the NAR belong to the same code of ethics along with additional codes that come with local associations. It is very easy to make statements about other agents when they are only hearing one side of the story. Great question Morriah. There is no lack of rude agents either...I have seen many people get belittled on here because they have bad credit or other financial issues.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
I think we walk a fine line when answering questions here, especially when dealing with a buyer or seller that say that they are working with an agent in our own state. I think we have the responsibility to respond honestly, fairly and without motive. If an agent basically says "hey, get rid of your agent and here's my contact info", that is unethical, according to the rules of my local board.

The badmouthing that I was referring to were some threads where the agents were acting downright rude and obnoxious to other agents answering questions and, even worse, to the people asking the questions. Yes, we can control our own actions but shouldn't we also be held accountable for them? The people asking honest questions here shouldn't be belittled or made to feel like they asked a dumb question.

I agree with you Deborah that when giving advice, it is sometimes the easy answer to tell someone to just change agents when you are hearing one side of the story and I also agree with Elvis that we shouldn't coddle each other or always defend one another when a buyer or seller asks a question, that would defeat the purpose of this site. I think it's great for the public to have an outlet to get professional advice but only if we, the professionals, do it honestly, fairly and without motive!

Thanks for your input!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Kimberly, I believe you're raising an excellent question concerning the NAR Code of Ethics. Perhaps, you could collaborate with several other like-minded agents to form a grass-roots organization to help reform the NAR Code of Ethics.

As for the internet governance issue, . . . you'd be opening a huge can of worms (and other goodies). Many aspects of internet governance fall outside the jurisdiction of any arbitrary state (or commonwealth). Some of those aspects are governed nationally, and others are governed internationally. Unfortunately (at least for some), technology evolves exponentially faster than policy does, so that many technology-related (including internet) issues fall into somewhat of a "no man's land"; and it's simply not enough to extend older laws or torts to apply to the new technology.

For example, copyright law was written for dealing with print and audio media; it's currently being applied to computer programs (which can be written or generated). Although algorithms (basically you can think of these as recipes for computer programs) can't be copyrighted, and are patented instead, algorithms can also generate computer programs. So the question then becomes, "Should written and generated programs be handled differently?" The interesting thing is that every state/commonwealth and/or nation has different ideas on this, and some have gone as far as to try to write some legislation to address this.

IMHO, the DMCA is one of the worst pieces of legislation written (to address some of these issues [albeit in a draconian manner]). In general, the EC has tended to draft smarter legislation in this regard, but some of their provisions are also equally draconian.

Ultimately, until our government acquires the ability to read/decipher our thoughts, they'll lack the ability to effectively govern them. That was basically a more eloquent (hopefully) way to state that most government bodies are playing catch-up with their internet governance policies. Thus, the answer to your question is possibly, but most likely not.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
Francesca, I gave you the thumbs up, and agree 100% with you. Actually, you expressed more eloquently what I intended to write initially.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009

When new to Trulia, responses by agents can be overwhelming and cause one to review Realtor "ethics" policies to ensure they are not engaging in unethical practices.

As for "badmouthing other agents", I find ignoring it is the best practice as the educated buyer/seller realizes that one who engages in such practices is not necessarily the best choice of agents. However, if you find that the "local" competition continually makes attempt at underming your input, do not hesitate to contadt as she is very responsive to these types of situations.

As for "not soliciting the business of sellers", it is my belief, that most times Realtors respond based on the assumption that these sellers are currently unrepresented. It's akin to meeting a buyer at an open house and forgetting to ask if they are represented by an agent before soliciting their business.

I rarely engage in the "ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me, call me, call me" practice. In my opinion, consumers are utilizing Trulia for information purposes only and are put off by the offer of limited information and the call me if you want more tactic (as is evidenced by a recent post wherein I rec'd "Best Answer" from a comsumer by directly answering the question, while the other posters said "call me" and I'll give u more).

All I can say is stick to what you feel is ethical and you will be rewarded. I've been participating for just over a month, tried to remain loyal to Realtor ethics and have been rewarded with 2 well qualified buyers (both of which have mentioned my "realistic attitude" and "honesty and integrity" as the reason for their chosing to do business with me.

Best of luck and welcome to Trulia!

Web Reference:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Hey Patrick,

Great to see you......what a pleasant surprise.

We have many great agents in Jersey, and some in FL, too. But, we all can grow plenty of stupid and rude in our backyard, also. Local doesn't grow brains. If I wanted to make a list of examples of growing stupid in out backyard.......well, I can't ...but, let your imagination take on wings.

From what I see in online communities, I notice more rude and unethical behavior when only local agents are on a thread. This is not specific to any geography. I noticed this a long time ago. Here's my unscientific hypothesis. When 4 agents are all in City X, they might feel competitive with each other. If 4 different agents are from different areas, the threat of competition is removed. I see more, "I agree w/ Agent X" comments come from agents who are outside of the market area. There are times when local agents do endorse each others' responses when a good answer is given. It just happens with less frequency. Of course, content rules.....and one should stay within their knowledge base.

OK...i am really gonna get shot for this analogy........4 puppies play nice and have a great threat. Put one bone in the play pen and that might just prompt some guarding and territorial behaviors. In some, the guarding is a reasonable act of caution; w/ others it might be vicious. now can I come online in AZ and answer all the local questions there? LOL. I always predicted that as Trulia grew, and as more online communities developed, people would gravitate closer to home.
With many online places to go, one has to choose where they will allocate their time. Good to cross paths with you today.

Can you show me those places where all of the attorneys are ethical, moral, and polite? I want to visit there.

Hey, are you going to BarCamp in PHX?

Hope you are well and writing biz.

Deb Madey
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
There is one bright side to the market going South. It is starting to weed out alot of the part timers, and just not so good Realtors. When this all washes out it will be better for the consumer. During the hot market when everyone and their brother was a Realtor I was appalled at the service. Some of these agents couldn't find their a$$ with both hands tied behind their back.
Do you really see that where you are, Capone? Where I am it's weeded out all the agents who don't have a trust fund, a spouse with a full time job or a spouse who is an attorney and feeding them "estate of" leads. Our office is beginning to look like the lucky sperm club.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Hi Morriah,

Yes, you, Elvis and I seem to be in agreement. When Elvis reference the thread where an agent lowered a price by 15K, there were some quick criticisms of the agent. On that thread, I indicated that it was possible that the agent was acting in good faith of what she thought the seller wanted done, and suggested that the seller speak with agent first, broker second and escalate to a borad or association level if the seller was not satisifed that the matter was not handled after that. I want to believe that the agent made an error, and hopefuly, the error can be corrected without harm to the seller. But, I realize there are a few bad apples out there, and those situations should be vigorously investigated and disciplined. I sincerely encouraged this seller to report this action, if, after discussion, he/she felt it was an intentional act.

I have not desire to protect my own, when the actions are such that it reflects poorly on our profession. But, let's be fair and objective before we launch an attack.

I am glad that you addressed the sometimes rude nature of posters. While I have a greater concern about how Realtors act, I am disapponted when any poster takes an attackful tone or treats others rudely. It does speak more about that poster than the person they attacked, though. Still, it shapes Voices to be a hostile place.....a place other consumers may not want to visit.

Trulia looks to us to largely self moderate. So, thank you Morriah, for bringing up this matter.


Thank you much for a well needed
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Morriah, It is inevitable that these agents are Barracudas ansd do not care as long as they are making money. It is up to agents like us to report them to our boards and if you can get a prospective client to write a letter and sign it is even better. i have told my broker what I heard and he has called other agnets brokers and mentioned what was told to me. But unless you can get the aprty that ws told something not ethical about you or you compnay, it will be white washed.
Years ago I worked for one realtor that I shouldn't have. He first name is Mike. But I will go no further. I was showing properties to this couple and another agency of course had it. When I went to sahow it they made an offer and the other agent said she must be there. I was for the most part a luittle nieve then. But what it came down to, she wouldn't tell me anyhting about the mortgage compnay and so forth. So I foubnd out, made a phone call and found out that it was assumable. The next thing I know the couple calls me and the other Broker, Ann, told them I lied to them and I am getting yelled at and burated like you wouldn't believe. She called them up and did all this to me. Low and behold Ann. from the other agency that started with a "J", sold them thehouse and made both sides of the commission. I let it go. But if I should get called by them on one of mny listings, I refuse to talk to them. I also tell them why.
I met the broker a gain after a few years and I let it be known how crooked she was then and probably still is. Well low and behold, the people I have spoken to all agree she is a bad egg. I almost forgot. she went to talk to me one tyime and said I know you don't I. I then looked her in the eye and said you sure do. You lied and cheated me out of my commisson on New Street! Remember? The she turned bright red and walked away. Well, that is when a couple of people came up to me and I explained it to them. Boy did I get complimented, for letting hr have it.

As for people going away and wasting your time. We have implementeed the following in our office.
1. You get them tot he office and sign a Buyer Broker agreement . make sure you do not put down any one single house that it only pretains to. Make sure it is for any home you give them information about . It is your time they are taking up and dragging allover the place.

2. What a couple of use are doing is, get them in the office, have them sign the Buyer Broker Agreement now show them all the properties you can from the computer and pictures first. Let them choose which ones they want to see. Just print out the customer copies to give them. These shuld have the directions on them also. Then tell them to go look at the neighborhoods and see what they like or dislike. Tell them to rate each one . Then call you up and give you the MLS numbers of the ones they want to see. Then you makle appointments for them.
a. you have them locked into you with the agreement, they saw the areas and the out side of the homes, now they can pick and choose. Half your job is done.

3. We have a broker here in Brevard county that charges an up front fee to show people homes. Is it ethical, yes. Why, because you are working for them at this point and if they are truly yours, they will payit. But my broker sayd no right now.

4. When you go to a possible listing and bring your CMA that you worked on for three or four hours, gathering every bit of information to give them the information to make you shine. Never ever leave it. Yes we all do free CMA's, but only if they list with us. If they want it.Charge Them For It. Your Time Is Worth Money, So Charge For It. If you leave it, that is when another agent will tlak you down, tell them you do nothave the experince they have and that you have no idea of the market in the area. That is bad mouthing you. But try and get the people who went to list with the other agent to say so. When asked if they can have it say, Sorry friends, but this is my hard works and I willnot leave it for another agent to look at and be unethical. We may say we do Free CMA's, but only if you list with us. If you truly want it because I explained everyhting, have shown you all my hard work to show yu thepice ranges and you stilll want to go with another realtor after I leave this, I am sorry but it will cost you $150 for three hours of my work. Just make sure you have the lsiting agreement filled out and ready to put in the price and to sign and ask for it. Then if they say no , pack up and leave and say nothing. A you are walking out the door, you just may get, wait, I am sorry your right, we will sign with you.
When I sold Insurance and Pets Control it worked 7 out of 10 times.

Yes have done this more than once and to tell you the truth. I really do not care what they think or if they threaten to call my Broker. Because he is going to tell them the same thing. They really need us also. So make them ask fr help. Remember Buyer Broker Agreement.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 31, 2009
Hey now we have all the experts we need to discuss ethics. Agents ( Code of Ethics) , Loan Agent (known nationally for their adherence to ethical behavior) and me ( A Non-Pro Troll in denial about his lack of knowledge). LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
You Realtors need to get a life or some listings and then you will be to busy to sit on this board wondering what your boards would do about ethics. Seriously, this is exactly the reason consumers think Realtors are idiots. Listen to yourself.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
Yes, and it is very frustrating. I'm noticing it a lot up here in the Philadelphia area. I've been bad mouth by agents I've never met, just because of my response to possible clients who are asking questions. I wonder where the NAR's code of ethics kicks in? It is the internet so the states probably don't have the right to govern it.
Does anyone know?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
I believe you meant Rogue Realtor... unless you meant that they had rosey red cheeks.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Dp2, I think many consumers don't realize that answering a question may be interfering with an agency relationship. Many times i go out to a friend's home and meet someone who is listed with another agent and they begin asking me questions. I tell them they shold really be asking their own agent these questions. I don't feel comfortable answering them. Sometimes people come right out and say "I'm listed with X and they haven't sold my house yet, how come?" They don't realize I can't advise them. It's also just natural to second guess. That's why many times when I have an accepted offer, I find out my buyer has called another agent on their listing! Or my buyer will want to look at other houses. People naturally want to make sure they're doing the right thing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Lori, I understand--and don't entirely agree with--your position, but I respect it. I guess I have the liberty--since I'm not an agent--to answer the questions freely.

"It can be argued that a question posted on trulia by a seller currently listed with another agent is not an invitation for other agents to interefere with that agency relationship since the poster did not post with the intention of developing an exclusive agency relationship with the 1,000 or so agents out there on trulia."

It can also be argued (perhaps in court) that all posted questions are treated similarly to e-mails which may be (and often are) used in court as evidence that the defendant simply answered a question, and didn't initiate the dialog. Keep in mind that every post has a time and date stamp, and they're all stored in a database somewhere. It's easy to establish the time-line for the dialog, and it would also be relatively easy for a data forensics professional to examine that defendants machine and cross correlate many of his/her other activities to prove (or disprove) definitively whether the defendant initiated the contact. (FYI: that's in part what some of those pedophile investigators do to track perps down.)

It can also be argued that to warn a person citing that code of ethics comes dangerously close to interpreting (or practicing) law--which is also prohibited in the NAR code of ethics (so I've been told--many times).

Nevertheless, the point is not to split hairs about what is or isn't in the code of ethics; rather, the point is to help build a more knowledgeable community on various real-estate issues. We do this by caring, sharing, and learning from one another. I believe it's possible for an agent to recommend tactfully that a seller/buyer get a second opinion. We do it for most other products and services, and we should be able to do it for real-estate too.

By the way, Lori, I liked that sweater suggestion :) . . . the only thing is I'd probably need ear-plugs instead, because I bristle from the sound of someone scraping their fingers on a chalkboard. (BRISTLE . . . just typing that and thinking of that image sent a chill down my spine.)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Morriah, I've seen several of your posts, and I find your answers to be quite thoughtful.

Nevertheless, the hairs on my back bristle whenever I've read that "code of ethics" response in the replies of some realtors. It's as if some agents try to pistol whip other agents into submission with the code any time they disagree with the advice given. It shouldn't be a violation of the code to inform a novice/new buyer about his/her options (including to hire another agent [in some cases])--especially if that buyer is dealing with an agent who has obviously dropped the ball in some way. It shouldn't be a violation of the code to question the advice of--but not rudely attack--an agent especially when one (who's an expert in handling that kind of transaction) can tell that the advise is wrong. It shouldn't be a violation of the code for a buyer's agent to advise his/her client to submit 1 or more low offers. I could go on, . . . but I think everyone here should get the point. Personally, as a non-realtor, I question the ethics of anyone or any code that seeks to prohibit one of its members from sharing the truth.

Consultants are taught to not trash other consultants, but that kind of behavior happens all of the time. The fact that that kind of behavior happens doesn't justify the behavior itself. Besides, I've seen time and time again that clients tend to relieve the consultants who engage in that kind of behavior of their responsibilities. So, I'll recommend that agents take a similar approach, and stop pistol whipping other agents with the code. Keep in mind that we clients (and potential clients) are watching, and we'll hire the pros and bypass the drama kings and queens.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
......................Or be to BE one. :)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
Don't need a license to have Character. ; )
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
The Banking industry has a Code of Ethics, Teachers, Priests, Doctors, Lawyers, you can probably find a Code of Ethics in the Taco Bell employee book.

It's about character. IMHO
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
what i find... is that... ethics on the Internet seem to take a back seat to some sales people and agents...

... this is because the relative "anonymity" of the internet...

... its very easy to change, ever so slightly, your profile or to make a second one to conduct some "unethical" biz to drive biz to your "ethical" profile or website...

...make sense... ???
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
Morriah, I knew there was something I forgot ...…
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
Good morning Morriah, excellent question and an excellent post.

Online ethics...?

You're a very brave lady .. most agents get shot down, stifled or pummeled with detrimental emails about covering and protecting the hierarchy of the real estate industry about his this very subject:.. so I've been curious to see what your responses would be.

The "protecting your own" part has always gone on these boards, they coddle their own no matter what state or what part of the country an incident has happened in .... remember, what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas, well not quite .l.o.l.. .. you have New Jersey agents answering property values for consumers in Georgia and agents in California telling buyers in Charlotte what bug man they need for an inspection ...

And there is a lot of trolling for business here - a bunch ...

Just look at any late evening or early morning posts, 10 or 15 company banners in a row usually means someone is trying to help someone, right..? .. ""wrong" ..

You have agents that use this site every morning to drag questions from September, October, November and the original poster hasn't been on the boards since Halloween - (this is February 11th right..? ..l.o.l..) .. the banner is whats important, it certainly wasn't the answer because the poster "hasn't been on since" .... ah, hmm, uh, I guess you'd say no self promoting there - truly amazing ... sounds like droning billboards too me.

The negative part is, the consumer reads it and really doesn't have a good experience here - especially later on because it's become all about agents, not the consumer who is the buyer and the seller.!

I think you said it best: - "The people asking honest questions here shouldn't be belittled or made to feel like they asked a dumb question."

Have a great day in Hotlanta.!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
All of the answers here are very thoughtful. I haven't seen too much agent bashing but I've been writing on the San Francisco site and not nationally. I've just recently gone to the agent to agent and am enjoying it. We had only one situation here where the responses were vitriolic against the agent. A seller wrote in asking if it was usual to charge an upfront fee paid to the agent for a short sale and that is a violation of our laws without the written permission of the Department of Real Estate. Other wise it's all been pretty civil.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
I find myself squirming a bit when I see agents responding to questions about what a referral fee might be in a particular area. It is my personal opinion that this might be leaning close to anti-trust violations. But I can only control my own behavior and simply say the all commissions and fees are indeed negotiable which is the only correct answer always. I hope more agents will do the same.

I would like to see less "shouting" certainly. The "agent2agent" streams are very helpful because you can learn a great deal about an area or refresh and debate various real estate topics. It's great for real estate nerds like me. But we don't need to beat each other up when we disagree.

The only time I think I ever gave a less than polite answer was when customer was asking what to do about an agent who was being very rude and agressive to her/him. In that case I did tell that person to move on and find another agent. Given the tone of the question and that this person was clearly not happy, it seemed like the appropriate response. Not being anywhere near the area this person was located, I had no intention of soliciting that person (nor did we ever communicate directly at any point in time thereafter). Honestly, I might re-think that type of response in the future. However, when someone says they are being mistreated by an agent, it's difficult not to advise them to move on.

Thanks for bringing this up. I think it is worth discussing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
When I first came here the most common "advice" seemed to be "get rid of that agent!". Things have changed a lot since then since some people pointed out how unethical that statement was. What unethical practices have you seen?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 7, 2008
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 21, 2016
It's been awhile Morriah, are you still suprised?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009

YES, there are always some out there same as celebrity status "comments made" I personally dont have time read what another person post(s) OR CARE... I believe if a person as an opinion however some do like throw dirt.... keep blogging only worry about yourself.

YES, a professional or person can be SUED using web & slander person character...

~ National Featured Realtor and Consultant, Lecturer regarding Credit Repair, Mortgage Loan Officer
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009

Can you clarify? I think what they were referring to was someone claiming a listing on trulia as their listing and putting their listing contact info as the 'listing agent' on it since trulia does not currently prevent that. In addition, someone could manipulate a listing by changing information and even adding open house dates to it when it's not even their listing!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009
Dear C&L, In regards to the lisitng of your property by another agent as branded as his or hers is not ethical and it really is not allowable underthe laws no matter what state you are in. NAR will take such a complaint and go with it. So these are not branded by Trulia as yours, becasue you do have your onw, But these are made available to be viewed as if they were on a MLS and your website came up first foe many reason, As on Point 2 Agent, Your pictures come up, you have specific listings that are truly yours, but there you have asked fior and requested and gareed to being able by all aprtnerships you have created to have possible buyers view as if they were on MLS. The only difference is you have become the main person to contact at that time. So as for branding all listings as yours, no it is not true, This is when someone takes your lisitng, places it on the MLS system and publically advertises your lisitng asd there own in a printed manner. News papers, magazines and so forth without your or your brokers expressed permission, in writing.

Now as for agents bad mouthing others, if there is printed proof all the better, if you can get a party or parties to put in writing what they heard even better. But even if you do not have either, still let it be known to the local board, and reference that a copy of your complaint is being sent to the agents Broker. Demand an apology in writing, from broker and agent and such apology to be forwarded to the board. Also make reference that all of this will be reported to your State Authority and NAR if this should in any way be mentioned to you from anyone again.
It works and they learn real quick, New and Old.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 2, 2009
All of us Realtors have the same standards of practice and code of ethics to follow. Some just don't know what it is or don't care, but thankfully, there are in the minority. I shutter to think of them in contact with the public and ending up giving our whole profession a used car salesman persona (and, no, I am not
disparaging them). The more experienced and credentialled agents should set the image for their markets (I have received 9 designations over time and been a broker in two states. And, I am even licensed as Reliable Robert (I figured half the people would think that's hokey, and that's fine'---I'll work with the other half; I've never been idle.) If I wasn't reliable, after all, I would have to be now, right?

Ignore the naysayers and enjoy the view from the high road! You deserve it for being who you are.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 31, 2009
We here in California have to protect the right of an agent who is already working with another agent and cannot interfer unless the contract is first cancelled with the client. Having said that I find that the rules are broken here all the time. In fact, I wish there was something more that could be done to correct the situation. I think that the boards do not oversee what is said online and maybe they should look into more.
We here have classes to teach what should be written online and what is inappropriate. I know these realtors in particular would benefit from these classes and I wish we could have them go to a class when they violate a rule,much like we do when you get a speed ticket and traffic school.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 31, 2009
Dp2, Hope all is well..Always glad to read your comments. You've had some interesting discussions lately, hope you've been enjoying.......
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2009
And here I was just thinking that in my view, educated Pro input is a valuable tool.

Dp2, I also enjoy your input as a "other". : )
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 24, 2009
Thanks, dp. I often find your input to posts as a "other/just looking" thought provoking. In my view, educated consumer input is a valuable tool.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 24, 2009
NAR has destroyed all chances. Yes, typically, I agree with that. As a member of this organization, I have seen a lot dirty behaviors and conducts. Lack of necessary punishment makes the NAR, local affiliates and realtor title notorious. I think reformation can not be avoided to all the realtor associations. That is not only on the punishment policy but also education, qualification and public relationship.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 16, 2009
I read a lot of long winded rebuttals. All I can say is you are a trouble maker and come here to elevate yourselve above everyone else.
Call trulia and they may hire you to monitor the message board and then you will be making a real income.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
I would love to have a dollar for every person that's had to bite their tongue (or break finger...) to stop themselves from posting a response to some questions! The 'intention of developing an exclusive agency relationship' is taken straight from the article so I don't think that the consumers are attempting that. I think there are a lot of people that just don't have a comfortable enough relationsihp with thier agents that they second guess them and post the question on a forum. It's so sad to see someone post something like 'my agent told me such and such but I doubt him/her'... The truth is, people feel that way and we all would like a perfect world in that every person did their job and every client was taken care of. Consumers deserve to have someone/some forum to bouce their questions on and give them that warm fuzzy. If someone posts a question and says 'hypothetical situation' and don't mention that they have an agent, they are going to get a lot more advice since we won't worry about interfering with agency. I don't think that we would get in trouble for being mindful to others of the code. The law always takes precedence with the code but the code is something that we, as agents, are supposed to know. Tax/law and other items are things we have some sort of working knowledge of since we deal with it more than a lot of the public but we have to refrain from giving advice because we are just not experts. Anytime we say/write something that may be taken as advice in those subjects, we have to cya with a disclaimer and advice to consult the professional in that area.

All that csi stuff scared me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009
Hi DP2,

I think that there are many times when an agent would like to give advice or solicit someone's business but does not. We don't write the code, just follow it. Some articles of the code (article 16, for instance) state the rules we have to follow concerning those who are currently in an agency agreement with others. Some areas of the code are difficult to clearly interpret when dealing with the world of q & a and the widening internet forum. If a seller is currently listed with an agent and discloses that in the question he posts, does the question in itself authorize us to contact or advise them? For the time being, many agents want to be better off safe than sorry and would rather be cautious then lose our license. We simply have rules to follow but the rules aren't always simple to interpret in this changing world. If a realtors client contacts another agent regarding establishing a relationship and the realtor didn't initiate the contact, then we can talk with them regarding our services. It can be argued that a question posted on trulia by a seller currently listed with another agent is not an invitation for other agents to interefere with that agency relationship since the poster did not post with the intention of developing an exclusive agency relationship with the 1,000 or so agents out there on trulia. I'm sure that many of us have attended or listed to seminars on this subject. I'd be curious what others think. On the 'trashing' part, we are definately prohibited from doing that, that article is pretty clear. It could be that some agents mention the code to gently remind other posters - kinda like pulling someone back onto the curb when they step out into the street. We really do have to walk a thin line between offering general advice and being found at fault for interfering with 'agency' and a code violation. I see your point and it may see like we use it as an excuse to not respond or that we are using it to admonish other agents, but hopefully, it's just being referred to because of more honorable reasons :) I'd put on a sweater each time for that bristling feeling - for the time being anyway - until a more clear ROE for these platforms can be written!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 15, 2009

Looks like you give us an interesting topic. So many comments are posted. I did not read all of them but I would like to mention a very important point here. I did not see anyone mentioned here. That is fiduciary duty.

Yes, banking industry has its code of ethics. Auto sales, insurance sales and even Taco Bell, almost all the careers have their own code of ethics whatever licensed or non-licensed. The difference between those careers I said and real estate licensee is the fiduciary duty. The only career I know that other than realtor carry fiduciary duty is lawyer. I do not know how about doctor and teacher. Probably, they do.

Real estate licensees not only realtors but also other non-realtors such as loan agents, and lawyers doing business with consumers are called agency relationship. We are agents and consumers are clients. Not all of but most of the auto sales and insurance sales are dealership. Honesty is the bottom line that is lower than agent’s fiduciary duty too much.

Simply saying, fiduciary duty is treat your client as treat yourself.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
I agree. I'm sure you don't need a license to work at Taco Bell, though. :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
... its very easy to change, ever so slightly, your profile or to make a second one to conduct some "unethical" biz to drive biz to your "ethical" profile or website...


And just as easy for a dishonest non realtor poster to steal someone else's name continually in order to to discredit them. And how convenient, there's no code of ethics for the public!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 10, 2009
Tman writes:

And there is a lot of trolling for business here - a bunch ...
::whistling:: oh yeah, there's a lot of TROLLING all right....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
Hi All!

This is a healthy conversation. Whether online or offline, our ethics should be the same. Having said that, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. It's how we remedy them that makes a difference. Whether you are an agent, broker, buyer or seller, we're all here to help each other. I treat others as I like to be treated. Thus far, it has worked for me.

Our online reputation means everything in today's world. Remember, the internet doesn't forget. All someone has to do is google your name to find out what you've been up to. A buyer, seller or employer can quickly learn more about you and your character by monitoring your blog posts and comments. So let's try to keep the conversations helpful and informative. It really is in your best interest to do so. A general rule of thumb is to not say anything online that you wouldn't say to someone's face.

Thanks for lending me your ear...

Social Media Guru at Trulia
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 11, 2008
We have some seasoned vets. Our trust fund babies make sales, too, but many of them don't provide the service they should. My point is we have a lot of part timers who don't have to worry about getting listings and who are subsidized when it's slow. Perhaps it's just the nature of the business in a resort area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
Funny our office of 90 agents has all the seasoned vets that were there before and the ones that worked really hard. Here all the ones with trust funds or weren't serious got out because it wasn't easy anymore or my broker showed them the door for no sales . I hope we never get back to the days of people taking on real estate as a part time job that pays better than their full time gig. Real Estate is a 24 hour a day job in order to be done correctly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
There is one bright side to the market going South. It is starting to weed out alot of the part timers, and just not so good Realtors. When this all washes out it will be better for the consumer. During the hot market when everyone and their brother was a Realtor I was appalled at the service. Some of these agents couldn't find their a$$ with both hands tied behind their back.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 9, 2008
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