REAL ETHICS by Steve Stazel | August 2012 | Index of all Real Ethics columns
What to do when you see an ethics violation
What do you do when you see an Ethics violation? Too many of us don't do anything. We say we don't want to get involved, don't want to rock the boat, or use other excuses not to go further. If you have ever seen an Ethics violation and done nothing, this article is for you.
What follows are my thoughts on what you should do and WHY you should do it.
When you see someone doing something that you think is a violation of the Code of Ethics, the first thing you should do is to contact the other broker and approach in a very non-threatening way. Maybe you could say, "Excuse me, but what you are doing seems to me to be a violation of the Code of Ethics. Am I missing something?" This is a request for information; you are not accusing anyone of anything at this point.
Once you have asked this question the other broker will likely give you one of three answers.
The first answer they may give is, "Oh. I see what you mean. I didn't know. I will make changes immediately." You have just solved the problem with a phone call.
The second type of response you may receive is, "Oh. I see what you mean, but let me tell you the entire situation." After the other broker tells you the new information, you can see that his or her action was not a violation.
Now I have a question for you: What would you have thought of the other REALTOR® (for the rest of your real estate life) if you had not approached them? Does the term "pond scum" come to mind? And here is where it really hits home – what if someone saw YOU doing something that they thought was unethical? Wouldn't you want him to come to you so you could explain why your action was not in violation of the Code? What if the other broker did not approach you when he thought you were being unethical? What would that broker think of you for the rest of his real estate life? Does the term "pond scum" come to mind? The other broker may have misunderstood what was happening, but since he never came to you he would never know your actions were proper. Let's communicate with each other. Let's be sure we know what really happened.
The third answer you may get from another broker when you think he may be in violation of the Code of Ethics could be, "So what? I'm going to keep doing it." Now you have a decision to make: What kind of an Association of REALTORS® do you want to be a member of?
To me, an Association of REALTORS® is very similar to an individual. That is, you get exactly what you deserve. If you don't report that broker to the Association, you are going to get exactly the kind of professional organization you deserve. If you do report that person, you are going to get exactly the kind of professional organization you deserve. The question you have to answer is, "What kind of Association do I want to be a part of?"
Each month, the Aurora Outlook features RealEthics, a column by Steve Stazel devoted to explaining Code of Ethics issues for members. The comments stated in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Colorado Association of REALTORS® or the Aurora Association of REALTORS®. Ultimately, a hearing panel of the Professional Standards Committee determines whether a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred on a case-by-case basis. These comments should not serve as the foundation of any ethics complaint, arbitration request or response.
If you have an ethical concern or an issue you would like
to see addressed, please call Stazel at (303) 773-3333 or e-mail him at
email@example.com. The comments of this article reflect the understanding and
opinions of the author and do not represent an official expression of policy by the National Association