In this busy market, are you naughty or nice?

By Dennis Wilson, Manager, Professional Standards

As you’re well aware, the market has been crazy busy for months – no inventory, multiple offers, subjects… what are those? And with what appears to be no immediate end in sight, I felt it was my duty to be Scrooge for a few moments to draw attention to the reality that the best of real estate times can also be the worst of times.

Seeing members succeed in a busy market is wonderful, but when it’s too busy it’s not good for everyone. As you’re well aware, it’s very challenging when you can’t find your buyers a home or if you successfully sell a property, your sellers now have to find somewhere to go.

November’s sales – the busiest for the month since 1989 – and the resulting serious shortage of inventory in certain areas have lead to an influx of complaints to my office. There are some members currently risking their integrity and reputation by doing anything or everything to get the deal. Here are the top three concerns I’m hearing about.

ISSUE #1: Too busy to remember their primary duty

The first question every REALTOR® must ask themselves is who do I work for? Who is my client? Once you determine if you’ve been hired by the Buyer or the Seller, the next question is, what is my duty to my client?

I’m hearing stories of members withholding information from their clients or not keeping them informed “because they don’t have time in this market.” See Article 3.1 of the REALTOR® Code – one of your Primary Duties is to disclose any information that relates to the transaction. You have to take the time.

I’ve received reports of members using privileged information from a client to that same client’s disadvantage! I.e. Saying to another client, “I’ve already put an offer in of X on this house, but they won’t be able to budge any higher, so if we put a better offer in, I think we’ve got a good chance…” You CANNOT operate this way under any circumstances. Article 3.8 – if you’re representing more than one Buyer for the same house, you cannot use any info to put either client at a competitive disadvantage.

Same thing if you’re a listing REALTOR® and it’s your listing that you happen to have your own Buyer for – Article 3.5 – if you’re acting as a dual agent, you cannot put either client at a competitive advantage.

The bottom line is that you have a primary obligation to your client AND the responsibility of dealing fairly with all parties to the transaction. If you’re not doing this, you’re in breach of the Code.

ISSUE #2: Too busy to show a listing, so members share their access cards and lockbox codes with colleagues, unlicensed assistants and even non-REALTORS®

Yes, I know it’s very hectic and challenging to be in multiple places at the same time, but loaning your keycard to home inspectors or prospective buyers or even giving a one-day code to a colleague because the drive is too far… You know these are all big no-no’s, but they’re happening.

The potential for lawsuits on this issue is staggering. What could possibly go wrong with giving complete strangers access to your client’s home? I point to your Rules of Cooperation Section 9 – access cards are not to be loaned under any circumstances and providing a temporary access code is for REALTOR®-to-REALTOR® access only under narrow parameters.

ISSUE #3: So busy that a member gets his/her unlicensed assistant to show properties, solicit prospective buyers, answer questions about their latest deal, etc. etc.

Under Council’s Rules, with regards to Trading Services, the division of labour between you and your unlicensed assistant is very clear. In summary, they cannot perform real estate service duties that require a license. They can’t do the work that you get paid for. To do so, they need to be licensed just like you. If your unlicensed assistant is doing any of the above, you’re in breach of Section 6-1.

I can hear some members bemoaning, that’s well and good Dennis, but I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, what else can I do?

My answer is pick a client(s) and serve them to the very best of your professional ability.

This is your livelihood and reputation on the line. Your license is not worth one sale.

Okay, that’s enough of Scrooge. I’ll put my Santa hat on now and wish all of you a wonderful holiday season hopefully including some well-deserved R and R with people near and dear to you. Talk to you in 2016 and have a very Merry Christmas.