Realtor Ethics Violations Not Available to the Public

realtor ethics violations

While I hung out in Hawaii last week, Ken Harney from the Washington Post contacted me about Realtor ethics violations and the new policy changes at NAR effective this January. The new policies now allow for publication of Realtor ethics violations, meeting certain criteria. Supposedly, this is so agents can find out which other agents have been found guilty of violating the Realtor Code of Ethics. However, the information is not available to the public.

Well, I’ve got news for ya. Most Realtors already know who the perpetrators are.

Ken Harney had made a comment that alluded to the notion paid subscribers of certain websites could monitor or change their online reviews. Which is not really true. I know for certain that many popular websites publish anything any member of that websites cares to write. Especially when the person writing the nastygram is not a client of the agent, makes up some crap, and you can’t get rid of it. Take Zillow for example. A poster of a review needs to satisfy only two conditions: to NOT be a real estate professional and to establish an account on Zillow. Then the reviewer can write anything that pops into her head, sort of like Trump, and the victim can’t take it down.

Harney says you can look at reviews or no reviews on Realtor.com; however, I don’t ask clients to post a review there. Because it’s not as widely read as Yelp or Zillow. You can’t ask clients to post their reviews everywhere for you online. Realtor.com is on the bottom of many agent’s lists. Further, I understand that an agent can remove bad reviews from Realtor.com by not approving them, but I haven’t verified this. However, you can find my client’s testimonials at Sacramentorealtorreviews.com.

As for Realtor ethics violations being available to the public, I replied via email to Ken Harney’s request: The public viewing of dirty laundry is never gonna happen. I see the Washington Post changed my comment to “not going to happen.” But another newspaper did not. I think it lessens the impact to change what I said. It’s not meant to be assertive or in favor or against, just a fact.

Very clearly Realtors attempt to police themselves and, as such, sometimes they are wrong and sometimes they are right. A person was once pursued for an ethics violation when she excitedly wrote online that her business had exploded like 1,000 percent, it was so crazy. Do you think people are serious when they say something like that? Who do you think turns in so-called ethics violations of false advertising like this? Jealous agents, that’s who. These are NOT agents concerned about raising the bar.

Agents concerned about raising the bar are out there setting good examples.

On top of this, many years ago I got hauled into a ethics hearing that was so bogus, so contrived, so over-the-top idiotic, yet the abuse upon full disclosure failed to cease. Not even when an association lawyer who is now in management at the Board tried to stop it. The ethics committee jumped all over that claim and forced me to show up for a hearing that I should never have been called in for. Required to show my 1099 from the New York Times to prove I was also a paid freelancer. Brought my laptop to the hearing so I could visually explain how the internet works. They had no claim. Of course, I was found innocent.

But what a mess that should never have happened. That experience erased any feelings of good will toward the procedures. Such a dog-and-pony show. It most likely happened because some green-eyed agent noticed my content ranks high in Google for real estate-related material online. This individual evidently searched hard for something to report for a Realtor ethics violation because nobody goes to that extent on impulse. The person decided, in error, that the website, owned by the New York Times, had failed to disclose my Realtor status online. Which was untrue. Flat-out wrong.

Why aren’t they out there busting the agents who lie to your face? Doctor documents over a client’s signature? Insist there is no variable commission when there is? Tell buyers if they write an offer with the listing agent, they will make sure they get the property so they should drop their buyer’s agent? Submit earnest money deposits on transactions that are already deposited in another escrow? Independently make decisions for their clients? Squeeze buyer’s agents out of a listing on purpose? Tell a buyer a listing with a release clause is sold?

Those are a hideous bunch of infractors.

As long as Realtor Associations are in charge of ethics violations, there will always be drama. It’s like incest in some ways. And they will never publish that information to the public. They aren’t even that sure of it themselves.

Elizabeth Weintraub

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