Monday, September 14, 2009

Blurring the Ethical Line

eth·i·cal Pronunciation: \ˈe-thi-kəl\
1: conforming to accepted standards of conduct <ethical behavior>

Rhetorical questions:

1. Assuming no dishonesty, is it ethical for a listing agent to use all of her skills, experience and knowledge to try to get her clients the highest possible price at the best possible terms? Is the answer the same if this behavior contributes to rising prices, harming future buyers?

2. Conversely,
also assuming no dishonesty, is it ethical for a buyer's agent to use every bit of his skills, experience and knowledge to obtain the lowest possible price at the best possible terms for his client? Is the answer the same if this behavior contributes to declining prices, harming future sellers?

I ask these questions for a reason. I represent a lot of buyers. In my representation I always use every scrap of market knowledge and all my negotiating skills to try to do the best possible job for my clients which usually means the lowest possible price at the best possible terms. I do this with honesty and fairness to both sides of the transaction. My efforts in recent years have often been a part of the chain of lower and lower selling prices in many complexes and neighborhoods. It was reported to me this past week that my aggressive representation of my clients, buyers all, was being characterized by at least one Cocoa Beach citizen as unethical because it has contributed to lower prices in our market. While the premise seems preposterous, at least to me, I welcome comments here on this blog from anyone who has some insight to share. I certainly know that I tend towards the aggressive in my negotiating but I feel strongly about my character and ethical standards and, in this case, take offense to the accusation. I will take all comments with an open mind. Thanks for reading. Back to our regularly scheduled programming with the next post.

"If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it."
___________Marcus Aurelius


  1. Heh Heh. The citizen didn't happen to be the one who just announced $1M in price cuts for one of his developments did it? Or the one, that owns the 6 unit ghost town on the river?

    It must be flattering to know you control prices on Cocoa Beach!

    It takes 2 to negotiate and the seller has an agent on his side of the table. Ultimately, the seller must make his decision based on what he is willing to sell for. Without the negotiation for lower prices, there might not be a sale at all.

    I don't see an ethical issue here. These are free market forces at work and nothing more. Don't let a jerk hurt your feelings!

  2. There is no moral dilemma here. You do the best for your client, whether that is seller or buyer. Any price settlement is agreed to by both parties.
    Reverse the scenario and one can see that it would be unethical for an agent to not get the best deal for their client just to keep prices high.
    I have heard similar comments to the one that you posted by residents of condos. "Your're the guy who stole the unit for $_____. That makes my unit worth less. Thanks a lot".

  3. Just as one sale does not make a market, neither does ONE RE agent. Ridiculous and very 'sour grape-ish'.

  4. What would be unethical would be for you to accept an engagement to represent a buyer and be less than diligent in getting the lowest price possible in order to inflate your own commission at your client's expense. Until one of your clients complains, you should post all comments like the ones cited on your marketing literature, you'll (deservedly) have more business than you could ever imagine.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. No one is forced to take your offer. Your offer, no matter the price, is one of many offers in the marketplace and by its very existence contributes to higher prices. When your offer is accepted, it is the highest price the seller was able to obtain. Only a fool would suggest that offers whether accepted or not, lower the market.

  6. Larry
    There will always be an element which is intimidated by diligent research and the indisputable facts it yields. Take heart in the great job you are doing and don't allow those who are lazy to detract you with their groundless statements.

  7. Little of relevence is left to be said re your role as a " buyers representative " in a down market that has not been covered in the preceeding comments.

    I imagine that the unflattering criticism you received was really occasioned by your relentless exposure of the more crippling sales that have taken place in the last two years. Your accuser may be a frustrated seller suspicious that you were juxtaposing publication of the severe local price declines and your particular knowledge and negotiating abilities as a buyer's rep. to attract " bottom feeders" as opportunistic clients for your services. Even if so and this is an intentional marketing plan it certainly is not unethical; cannot realisticly be critized; and as is said in many similar situations ... " somebody has to do it "

  8. answer:NO.
    explanation:It is not the above that determines price.Buyer,seller, agents,appraisers,banks,insurance co.,local government--
    The Market.
    I didn't notice anyone playing the morality card on the way up.

  9. OK, I suppose your critic believes it is ethical to get a buyer to pay a higher price in order to propagate a real estate bubble? Or to assure a higher commission for himself? He(she) sounds like the kind of unscrupulous agent who helped create the current real estate mess.

  10. Keep up the good work Larry

    Mike Schwartz

  11. I whole heartedly agree with comments from 11:25am & 8:46am. I'd want an agressive agent like you whether buying or selling. Too bad the folks that planned to make a quick profit, take the money and run, don't understand it can work both ways.

    Alan from NH, heading south soon!