Saturday, July 21, 2007

Realtor to Realtor Ethics

I got a call two days ago from a real estate agent who was driving around Fort Walton Beach with her adult daughter, looking for a home for the daughter. The agent was not from the local area, and was not a member of the local Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. She had just spoken to Rhonda,one of my agents, about looking at a house I had for sale. Rhonda, noting that the buyer was a Realtor, asked if she wanted a referral fee if the daughter bought the property. Referral fees are normally paid to other agents as a "finder" fee for connecting a buyer or seller with a Realtor outside of the referring agent's market area. The out-of-town agent told Rhonda she did not want to pay a referral fee, but wanted the entire selling side commission, and would write the offer if her daughter were interested. If that were the case, Rhonda would be working for free to show the pair the property, and recommended they call me, the listing agent, to let them in. Well, unfortunately for me, my car had just broken down and I was waiting for a tow truck. I told the agent that it was physically impossible for me to get from Destin to Fort Walton Beach to let her into the house. I had to tell her that three times. I also said, "Why don't you just pay a referral fee to a local agent who knows the market and local real estate customs?" She had to "think" about that and said she would call Rhonda if she were so interested. Opinion? This is a case of greed, pure and simple. If this agent, who did not have a local lockbox entry key, and was not a member of our association, used me to let her in, I wonder what else, after she travelled back to who-knows-where, she would have expected me to do. She told me she didn't know why she needed a local agent when she had "financing lined up". That was pretty irrelevant. Would she have used an acceptable contract for her daughter? Would she have coordinated with a local title agent? Would she have been present for the home inspector, and arranged for the termite inspection and appraisal? How would she have gotten access for these parties? I wonder. I think she would have expected me, as the listing agent, to do her job. And she still demanded full payment. I have encountered this scenario a few other times and I do not hesitate to set the party straight. If it were me, in an area I was unfamiliar with, I wouldn't even presume to ask for a referral fee if I were buying a property for myself. When it is a true referral, I have no qualms. But, please, just let the local agent do his job and earn a wage.

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