During a recent Real Estate Continuing Education class on the subject of the Realtors’ Code of Ethics, the following situation came to light: a newer agent from an independent firm called the local association executive, to complain about the behavior of another agent.
Apparently, the agent in question was trying to present an offer from her buyer client to the listing agent, who happened to be a “high producer”. The latter reportedly proceeded to abuse the buyer agent profusely, emphasizing strongly that she had sold millions upon millions in real estate, which meant she knew what she was doing and the deal was to be done her way. The buyer agent was told she did not have the same experience, did not know what she was doing and if she didn’t like the way things were to be done, she could take her buyer elsewhere.
The belittled agent called the association, in tears, looking for “justice”, to see if any complaint could be lodged against the abusive agent. Regrettably, DEMEANING another agent is not specifically in the Code. The unspoken answer was “we have to stand up for ourselves”, there is no “official” remedy or even reprimand to address the blatant bullying.
The Code is primarily intended for the protection of the consumers. Real estate licenses are generally issued by a Department of Consumer Protection or similar government agency. In a more transparent forum, such as Active Rain, for example, there is some “self-policing”, where the Ambassadors might chide or reprimand the writer of an occasional snarky or otherwise inappropriate comment. In a one-on-one humiliating situation, you are evidently on your own.
To be fair, in the Code there are some oblique references to expectations that real estate practitioners will act civilly toward each other: the Preamble to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice makes mention of “obligations to clients, customers, the public, and EACH OTHER”, further suggests eliminating practices “which might discredit or bring dishonor to the real estate profession” and recommends that we “refrain from making unsolicited comments about other practitioners”. Even those quotes, when viewed in context, pertain mostly to how we behave vis a vis the “outside” world. At best, it is left to the practitioners’ moral judgment to behave appropriately.
So what is the remedy for bullying, or is this an age-old unresolved question? Somehow, this sort of unprofessional behavior needs to come to light and be stamped out. The Code of Ethics should not have to address it, it should be understood.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles of Freedigitalphotos.net