When You Have to Report a Real Estate Agent
Trust me, nobody really wants to report a real estate agent. But sometimes the violations are so flagrant one must. We all make mistakes, honest mistakes. We’re only human. But what about the agents who deliberately set out to deceive and then claim they made a mistake? Or worse, refuse to rectify it? I wonder if I should report them. On the one hand, I pretty much leave other agents alone and don’t turn them in, even when I spot blatant, unethical behavior. I’m not the ethics police.
Although, there was that agent who published a map of “bad neighborhoods” in Sacramento. On top of that, he gave the areas racist nicknames and thought he was clever. That was beyond an ability to ignore so Fair Housing heard about that. I subscribe to the theory that you don’t want to be part of the problem. That agent? He moved his operation to Arizona and is still selling.
Whether to report a real estate agent for a violation is one thing, but another aspect is whether one should one talk about it in public. If it’s information the public should probably know, I say, yes, even if it tends to taint the profession. Other agents may disagree. Agents as a group try to protect each other so nobody discovers what idiots some are.
So, I’m just gonna tell you what happened. Without naming the website, I tried to update a new listing but the site told me the home had been claimed. Not surprising; it was listed before. I clicked on the details and noticed the home was listed for sale by an agent other than the previous listing agent. But it had the old listing number attached to it.
I called the seller to find out if she had any knowledge of this agent. Nope. The seller called the agent. Immediately, the agent dove into bait-and-switch mode. The seller made it clear that it was her home she was calling about and she was not a buyer. The agent mumbled something about this being a very confusing situation and promised to remove it.
A few days went by, and the listing was still published under that agent’s name. Hmmm. I wondered how many other Sacramento listings were swiped and misrepresented. Usually, people who would do unethical things do other unethical things. That agent had a couple of pages worth of listings. I ran the first 5 addresses in MLS. Not one listing belonged to that agent.
I finally notified the staff at that website, and several people responded. It’s difficult to regulate, they say. Well, how about you make the poster check a box that says, “If this listing doesn’t belong to me, I authorize you to charge my credit card a $1,000.” I heard giggles. At least the website removed the listing.
Why should the public care? Because the Internet is unregulated. It’s difficult to trust some of what you read. You should not rely on information found on questionable or unknown websites. If you’re searching in Google for “how to make dog biscuits,” you might not want to follow the recipe published by survivalists-who-eat-dogs dot com.
Nobody wants to report a real estate agent. It’s a big hassle and half the time the authorities do nothing because they do not understand the finer nuances. I recall a time an out-of-area agent wanted to co-list a home with me, and I did not want to co-list with that agent. That agent gave me his marketing plan that included cutting out buyer’s agents so he could double-end all of his transactions. That was his schtick. Unethical. Against MLS regulations, too.
The California Department of Real Estate did not care. This is what we face. Ambivalence.