Pushing the Boundaries — Literally

What do you do when you see another Realtor break the rules (or appear to)?

And if you do something, does that make you a whistle blower — or a tattle tale?

Thankfully, the issue doesn’t come up that often. But it does come up.

Here are the three most common situations where rule-breaking arises:

One. A home sells with virtually no market exposure, at a giveaway price — and here’s the kicker — the Buyer’s agent is the same as the home owner’s (called “single agent dual agency” — see, “That Sure Went Fast! (Too Fast??)”.

Two. The Realtor “borrows” the MLS area number from an adjoining, more upscale part of town.

So, instead of entering the code that includes Powderhorn Park, the listing agent codes the listing for Kingfield, on the other (west) side of 35W.

Three. The listing agent flagrantly overstates a home’s finished square feet (funny, the opposite never seems to happen).

“Tattling” or “Keeping it Honest?”

So, to repeat, what do you do?

My answer depends on a couple factors: do I have a client interested in — or competing with — the home in question?

Is the agent with Edina Realty?

If it is, I know who to call (their office manager — or mine). And it matters more, because bad behavior by another Edina agent reflects on me personally.

Could there be a benign explanation?

For example, maybe the agent who was on both sides of the “fire sale” had express permission from their client to sell it, fast, at the best price they could get (but usually you do that loudly, not quietly — otherwise how do you know it’s the best price??).

And last but not least: how busy am I at the moment?

In general, I don’t view it as my role to police other Realtors’ behavior or business practices.

However, when such behavior harms my or my clients’ interests, I see it as my obligation to do something.

As Martha Stewart would put it, “that a good thing.”

P.S.: I suppose that the contrary argument would be that sleazy Realtors make ethical ones look good by comparison — and therefore actually help the latter.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.
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