If you practice real estate long enough, eventually you will find yourself working a transaction that falls outside of your immediate stomping grounds. While folks commonly recognize that there are differences in laws and practices in between states, it isn’t as commonly understood that there can also be variations within a state — particularly within those larger and more densely populated states, such as Texas.
It is difficult to say what drives regional differences… but at some point, the words, “That’s not how we do things around here” will be uttered as an objection to what one party deems as standard, conventional and acceptable practice.
Common instances of conflict occur across county lines, between metro areas, and on those ‘special’ occasions where one party is metro-based and the other is rurally rooted.
The reason for the differences usually boils down to availability of education, leadership expectations, and the general implementation of enforcement protocols in a given area.
Esurance ad writers must have been channeling Realtor® energy the day they drafted the ‘Beatrice’ commercial.
Like Beatrice’s Baffled Bestie in Blue, finding yourself as a stranger in a strange land — where standards of practice are belittled, mocked, ignored or completely misintrepreted — can be unsettling.
Not only could contention in between agent parties disrupt and jeopardize client goals, it could also put Realtors® in a compromising position both legally and ethically. Looking the other way simply won’t cut the mustard, as a Realtor® who knows better is obligated to make sure proper process is followed — or defaults to a position of guilt themselves by tolerating malpractice.
|See the Esurance Commercial on Youtube|
What To Do When The Agent On The Other Side Isn’t Acting Right
Compliance standards are only improved when individual Realtors® are willing to take issue with individual matters, one matter at a time. Admittedly, it is a lot to ask for… Folks are generally uncomfortable with confrontation, and as necessary as it may be, the experience of lodging a formal documented complaint can be burdensome and divert attention away from activities that generate income.
As a first resort, try talking with the agent on the other side of the transaction. Breathe grace, and gently share information, exhibiting a humble spirit of learning together. Be prepared to share education resources and substantiate requirements you know to be true and necessary.
If talking with the agent fails, approaching the agent’s broker or managing supervisor would be the next step in the right direction. Often, if an agent won’t trust your information, she will have confidence in correction coming from her upline.
If you cannot reach the agent’s broker or managing supervisor, try having your broker reach the other broker. And if that fails, the next advisable step would be to approach your local area association for assistance. Most associations have full-time staff who have extensive knowledge regarding contracts and standards of practice, and will be generally willing to answer questions and help agent parties sort out differences.
If local area association resources don’t have the support you seek, Texas Realtors® have the TAR Legal Hotline at their disposal. The TAR Legal Hotline is your link to an attorney who can provide information about real estate law and related matters. All Texas REALTORS® can call the hotline: 800-873-9155.
TAR Attorneys can be extremely helpful toward providing answers regarding standards of practice, the Real Estate License Act & Texas Occupations Code regulations, and point toward documentation that may help you successfully educate and persuade the agent on the other side of the transaction.
If all else fails, reporting a breach of ethics or blatant instance of malpractice to the proper channel(s) may be required. In Texas, these channels may include, but are not limited to:
- MLS Provider (Area Association or Vendor)
- The Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) for ethics-related complaints
- The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) for practice-related complaints under licensing standards
- Attorney General
- Local Police
The World Is Round
At the end of the day, it is important that your focus as a Realtor® remain on your client’s objectives and best interests at all times. Putting our own egos aside to follow a client’s instructions can be challenging; however, pursuing satisfaction — even if it is 1000% justified — takes second place to serving our clients. Make sure your own practices are in good order, meet compliance, and do your best to facilitate an outcome that will achieve the results your client desires.
Know that part of a having a successful real estate career will, at times, require ‘letting go’, and even if you attempt and don’t succeed at implementing needed change in another party’s practice, getting past it and moving forward is a victory in itself.