Friday, October 02, 2009

No one the wiser

I often write pieces that never see the light of day here on the blog. The piece that I wrote yesterday and intended to post today will become one of those lost letters. In my next-day read this morning the account appears somewhat inflammatory and would probably have caused some ruffling of feathers and almost certainly some backlash. Perhaps less specific references to the guilty parties will make the story acceptable. Here goes.

There once was a broker who ran a successful real estate office in a cute coastal town. One of the broker's trusty agents found an opportunity to pocket $325 of his client's money in a property management transaction with no one the wiser. The client from whom the money was stolen found out quite by accident a few months later about the theft and confronted the agent. The agent played dumb and referred the client to his broker for resolution. The broker defended the agent and refused to return the client's money. The client elected not to pursue the matter. The larcenous agent continued his career with now-obvious support for his business style and the broker rose to a more prominent position in the local real estate community and continued to prosper. No one the wiser.

"The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be."


  1. I am not in the real estate business but, if I were the broker and there was clear and convincing evidence the agent did steal from the client, I would have fired him on the spot, even if he was my biggest producer. In fact, this is a real ETHICS issue in regards to the broker as he has a duty to keep a good and honest name for his agency.

    If the evidence was not so clear and convincing, then I would suggest the broker is not in a good position to be the judge and jury and he is justified in encouraging the client to seek a remedy in the proper forum.

    In either case, the broker has a dis-satisfied client who most likely is spreading the word around. For the sake of damage control, the broker should have forked up the relatively small amount out of overhead of the agency, apologized to the client and counseled the agent. There is no place for the perception of dishonesty in the agency business.

    This broker is not wise at all and has probably lost a client and hurt the reputation of his profession and his agency.

  2. Hi Larry,I beleive it to be the responsibility of any knowledgable party to fraudulent activity to step up to the plate and pursue the matter.Theft is theft no matter how small- from a small town Realtor to Madoff who devastated so many. The regulatory system will only work as intended if it is aware of improprieties.

  3. @Anonymous1 - In this office the agent would have been fired immediately and the money returned to the client with profuse apologies, no discussion.

    @Anonymous2 - I have not dropped the matter although I must proceed delicately because of other implications. I wanted to think that it was a misunderstanding when I first heard about it because of the reputation of the broker but, sadly, it wasn't. At the very least, I have identified two more rats. I'm reminded of what Maya Angelou once said, "The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them."