Ethics. What dilemma? - 6th September, 2007

Once upon a time a real estate agent might dare not have uttered the term “ethics” else it invited untold scrutiny. This industry grew from unstructured beginnings, at the whim of supply and demand and at the behest of wealthy land owners. Inevitably, given the more unsavoury aspects of human nature, the abuse of selling privileges was rife. The reputation of a few (perhaps more than a few) tarnished the career choice of many. We’ve come a long away as an industry, but the legacy of years gone by lingers. It’s still fashionable to lump in real estate agents with journalists, lawyers and used car salesmen on the List of People One Shouldn’t Trust. Joke-worthy, yes, but hardly fair for any of the aforementioned occupations. All have adopted industry codes and now answer to industry watchdogs as a condition of their operation. That said, everything comes down to the behaviour of individuals, doesn’t it? Everything can come unstuck by a precious few. A school can have a fine reputation but an abominable bully. The real estate industry is no exception. Recently we’ve seen several tales in the media of agents buying under-priced properties under alias identities. It is appalling behaviour and, tellingly, such agents almost always come unstuck … and quickly. But it does us all a huge disservice. I was going to use this blog to take the moral high ground on behalf of our local industry, but only last week had cause to call into questions the ethics of a competitor. I did so not for the sake of market position but because we all suffer when someone lowers the bar. I’m sure the person in question knows exactly what I’m talking about. Ethics aren’t just fashionable in real estate – they’re mandatory. And governed by law. Until next week … Gerard Baden-Clay, Principal Century 21 Westside