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Standards are crucial

Ethical behaviour in real estate is more important than ever.

The subject of ethics in real estate has been debated long and hard for many years. From a public point of view, the typical real estate agent has been held in fluctuating levels of endearment. In terms of trust, we are too often compared with used car salesmen and the venerable charms of injury claim lawyers. Andrew Reibelt, Principal of Realway Property Consultants, Redcliffe explains why the key to longevity in the industry depends on your ability to uphold the highest of ethical standards.

For many of us in the industry, it is not only our results that speak volumes, but how our business is carried out and perceived by the public that means the most.

Many of us have delivered excellent “results” for our clients without the need for financial benefit to be the predominant driver. Those times when you have helped someone out of a predicament, or just given free advice, are sometimes the most rewarding experiences you can have.

The risk of being caught out, embarrassed or indeed fined is how too many justify the need for “ethical business”. However, if no penalties were involved for those guilty of working outside the ethical boundaries, how many would consider doing so?

Current market conditions have certainly made the option of crossing the boundaries less of a deterrent for some. Accordingly, cases of agents and principals inappropriately using money from trust accounts have increased dramatically since the GFC. Excuses for such actions are always many and varied, although ultimately they are a clear case violation of ethical industry standards.

With current economic challenges and flow on effects to the industry, high ethical standards are more critical than ever. Today, those that operate only within ethical boundaries not only survive, but thrive. Despite all the money we spend on marketing online, print media, buses, billboards and the like nothing beats the referral from a satisfied customer.

This often does not mean achieving a record price or a quick sale. It can sometimes be as straightforward as creating a stress free process for a client. Just being there to provide professional support for the process is critical.

Each and every day we are faced with ethical choices in our chosen career of real estate. Should you call that vendor who has just listed with one of your opposition, telling them how wrong their choice was, or to neglect to request that extra dollar from a buyer when we are obliged to work in the best interest of our sellers, are some of the issues with which we are faced. The fact is, for the vast majority, the ethical boundaries are clear.

Andrew Reibelt is the Principal of RealWay Property Consultants at Redcliffe, and also a member of the corporate team at RealWay Australia. He has sold in excess of 1000 properties in his 11 years in real estate, whilst continuing to be involved in the growth of the RealWay group.

Rules and codes are aspects that many of us choose to live by. Some choose one religion over another or one company over another, although ultimately rules do not define who we are.

With the world a smaller place than ever, and the future influenced so strongly by the social media in our lives, we become scrutinised more than ever. There is an old adage that says do the right thing and 2–3 or people will be told of the experience. However, today what with Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Google, an erroneous or beneficial act can be multiplied in the social media a hundred or even a thousand fold remarkably easily.

If for example a restaurant has served a poor meal, a person can disseminate this on their social media accounts, where vast numbers of people can be turned away from an establishment. There have been examples of businesses shutting down due to “unfavourable press” in social media with customer numbers dropping so low that trade was impossible to continue.

We must be aware that this also influences our industry. If someone is dealt a harsh hand in a real estate transaction or the wrong ethics are employed, the downstream effects can be substantial. On the flip side, the benefits of social media are endless. The posting of a generous comment on your services can certainly provide a tremendous tick of approval to any prospective clients searching for your skills in their next real estate decision.

We are in an industry that has brilliant rewards for those who are successful both from a financial and emotional point of view. However, there can be times we are challenged on many fronts to take the easy path which may lead to crossing the ethical line. Those who keep on the right path are the ones with dogged ability to continue and make a difference each and every day.

For those in our industry looking for a fruitful and happy career in real estate, there is a logical way to longevity. Build your business around long term relationships and do not develop the “churn and burn” mentality that many have adopted in the past. If you see your clients and colleagues (i.e other agents) as opportunities to have a long term engagement in your community, there is never a good reason to cross ethical boundaries.

In the end, we all know right from wrong, and that hollow feeling in your stomach when something is not quite right, is a reliable gauge to follow. If you ever find yourself to be contemplating anything you would not want to be on the receiving end of, it is probably a clear sign it is not ethical.

Andrew Reibelt

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