Ethics in Real Estate
For those who follow my posts on the popular Australian property forum www.somersoft.com.au you will no doubt have read of many of my experiences with real estate agents over the last 22 years, since I purchased my first investment property back in 1991. From the inception of House Search in 2005 I have assisted hundreds of other buyers to achieve their property acquisition goals and it has been a fulfilling, interesting and exciting role. I relish what I do for buyers and get no bigger thrill than seeing my clients faces light up when we are successful in purchasing their ideal property. It’s what keeps me going and knowing that, as buyers agents, we are truly advocates for the buyers side and do everything in our power to ensure that our clients obtain a great result.
During this process, obviously we deal with a number of parties however the most interaction is obviously with the selling agent- after all, over 95% of properties are sold via agents and part of our role is to interact with them on a daily basis. I can honestly say with hand on my heart that the majority of selling agents are professional to deal with. Despite the public perception that they aren’t to be trusted, in our dealings to date, the majority act for their vendors admirably, deal responsibly and are loyal to their fiduciary responsibilities in representing their client, the seller. These same selling agents are tough but professional negotiators, seeking a fair outcome for both parties and most are intelligent enough to recognise that maintaining good relationship with both sellers and buyers can result in rewards down the track.
Then, sadly, there are those that don’t.
Here at House Search it would be fair to say that we have experienced the best and worst of selling agents. For those agents who act professionally, demonstrate that they are not only good at what they do but are ethical, we remember them and pass their details on as recommendations when required. Though we haven’t gone down the path of vendor advocacy, we are always open to sharing our experiences and suggestions of good agents with our clients, many of whom become sellers down the track. When we are asked for agents to avoid, naturally we share our opinions here too- poor behaviour and unethical practices are not easily forgotten.
Some may suggest that an “ethical real estate agent” is an oxymoron, and we acknowledge that forcing agents to act ethically is difficult in an industry with sales methods based on coercion, deception and, at times, trickery. Agents need to understand the importance of ethics and the fact that ethical practice leads to the most crucial ingredient in any business relationship – trust. Of all the strategies to attract consumers, including both sellers and buyers, nothing is as powerful as TRUST. As a colleague of mine once wrote, it takes courage to follow high ethical standards, to place the interests of consumers first. In the long-term, however, the rewards to consumers and agents can pay off. Not to mention being able to live with oneself.