Do Unto Others….

The Premise

It’s right there in the preamble to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics:

“Such interests impose obligations beyond those of ordinary commerce. They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which REALTORS® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be diligent in preparing themselves. REALTORS®, therefore, are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor.


In the interpretation of this obligation, REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

The Golden Rule has been taught to us since Kindergarten, Sunday School, Synagogue and birth; it’s the foundation and premise of how we should interact with others in a civilized society. In my opinion it’s greater than the following 4700+ words that make up the Code of Ethics. It allows for reason, grace, benevolence and rightness. And yet, it seems to be the most difficult trait to exhibit in the world.

We’re Not Exempt

I’ve been witnessing a trend of abandonment from our ideals, as of late. I’ve been hearing more and more complaints from REALTORS® and Consumers alike, about the action or inaction of practitioners to hold to the Stand of Practice set before us. I’ve witnessed bad politics played out both nationally and within the Association; I’ve seen school-yard-bullies taking lunch money from those who are smaller than they are; I’ve been witnessing those with superior intellect take advantage of those with out…or with simply less experience.

And frankly, I’m tired of it. We’re sitting idly by, bogged down with “tradition”, “politics”, “archaic idealism” and it’s causing more long-term damage than I think any of us are capable of comprehending.

To What End?

To those REALTORS® who have taken advantage of lesser entities, Brokers who have taken advantage of agents, Practitioners against clients – what did you gain? Nefarious intentions; regardless of what you believe in, faith, Karma, “what goes around, comes around”; simply does have a habit of coming back to haunt you. If you can “sleep well at night”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you made the right decision, but simply that you may have tossed moral compass over your shoulder at some point.

When decisions are made, are you asking yourselves about the long term consequence of those actions? We’ve all heard that “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” but do we really understand, as an industry, what that means? Just because you can do something, doesn’t make it right. Hurting someone, regardless if it’s in the name of “politics”, “client representation” or “self preservation” is still hurting someone.

The System is Broken

Time and again, I hear REALTORS® use the excuse that they don’t want to get involved in the Association because of the politics or the gossip. As of late, I am having a difficult time arguing against that reasoning.

When I speak with practitioners and ask them why they prefer on-line training, over classroom instruction; when it’s clear that classroom instruction yields greater results, they merely say that they don’t wish to interact with other agents.

Consumers are calling more and more frequently with stories of REALTORS® who have done something desperate to make a deal stay together or to get a new client. The consumers are often frustrated and would rather just deal with the opposing client themselves.

So the question is – what value are you bringing? If you can’t put others first, or the interest of the entire entity first, what does that say about you? Self Interest is easy….we can all do things that benefit us to the exclusion of everyone else. The real test of character is when we set aside our own self interest for the good of the many or for the good of the consumer.

That may mean losing a client, losing a vote, using extra energy to do the right thing- but it will allow you to keep your honor, respect and integrity.

Looking To Ourselves

We, as an industry, spend a lot of time talking about what others should be doing. In almost every lecture that I give, I get at least one story of “some other agent” that did so and so. I’ve gotten into the habit of asking ‘What did you do in response to that?’ As you can imagine, I am often let down in the response. Each person is naturally granted the ability to do the right thing, the propensity to do nothing is what seems to be lacking. That desire to take extra effort to hold another accountable, to make a decision that wasn’t popular with our peers, to work with a difficult agent as opposed to against them is a difficult task – but vitally necessary.

We need to start taking more personal responsibility for our actions and in some cases inactions. Saying “it’s not my problem” or shuffling an issue through committees hoping the issue will go away is not demonstrating ownership for resolution to a problem.

Often REALTORS® will pride themselves in “winning” against an opposing practitioner in a transaction or a Board member will relish winning a battle on a certain issue. However, the tactics and practices used, may have caused much more far reaching damage than they thought. So, in a minor victory they have caused significant damage to their reputation and ability to be seen as a professional.

To what end? What was the legacy that your “victory” truly left?

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5 Responses to Do Unto Others….

  1. Kathy Tyson says:

    Very wells said, Matthew. I’m linking to you on

  2. Pingback: A Question of Ethics - Real Estate Investing

  3. Toni Brown says:

    Mathew, I ditto Kathy. We all need to remember the “Golden Rule” in all aspects of our lives.

  4. I think during hard economic times, people behave in ways they would not normally do. They get desperate. They make deals they normally wouldn’t. They break some rules. It’s sad, but it’s true. I just hope before people be dishonest or make poor decisions, they stop for a moment and think about the golden rule.

  5. Jeremy Hart says:

    My wife used a book in her thesis work called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. The premise is simple – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We can take this industry a long way if we simply look at how we can work with each other for the good of the consumer first, and our paycheck second. I truly believe that if we do that – if we put ourselves second and our responsibility to the client first, the results (financial and otherwise) will far exceed our expectations.

    Going back to the Association; it works on behalf of its members … we HAVE to get involved. Compare it to the political process – it doesn’t matter what your political stance is, if you don’t exercise your right to vote then you have no right to complain. Get involved, make things better – VAR has proven to be a leader among it’s peers around the country, but I’d be willing to be it’s a vocal minority making decisions on behalf of the silent majority. Take the opportunity to be a part of your Association, take part in setting the course. You’ll be a better agent, a better broker, and we’ll all benefit from your involvement.

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