Fifty Shades: When Ambiguity Makes Doing the Right Thing Difficult
Have you ever made a decision and then felt a weird tingling in your gut, or a warm flush flow across your face? Can you recall a nagging feeling of remorse or guilt you experienced after an encounter with conflict?
If you have a conscience, you will be nodding yes to at least one of these feelings. If you can’t ever remember a feeling of guilt, uncertainty or wanting a do-over after making a questionable decision, you’re obviously reading the wrong version of “Fifty Shades.”
There is no doubt that there are definitive areas of black and white, right and wrong. But in an industry based on secrecy, competitive advantages, intertwined relationships and nosebleed-high rewards, the shades of black and white can easily get blurred. The basic compensation method for real estate brokers is hugely related to personal interests. The reputation and integrity of the firm a broker is associated with is a direct reflection of that broker’s ethical preferences.
The Real Estate Board of New York and the National Association of Realtors have spelled out a detailed code of ethics for brokers.
Here are two quick questions that can be very enlightening:
1.) When pitching an assignment, would you call the partner who is your best friend’s accountant and use that relationship to gain an edge over your competition?
2.) A broker with a terrible reputation for representing buyers who re-trade presents an offer that is too good to be true. Do you submit it to the seller?
The right answers are below. Which shade is your license painted with?
As you can see, there are many areas of ambiguity where good judgment must override impulse and be used to do the right thing.
There will be times when the lines of ethics and good business conflict with or fade into one another. It will take strong character to see the challenge through to the end results to determine if the decision you made was ethical.
As the National Association of Realtors states in its preamble, “take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever you would that others should do to you, do you even so to them.”
It is how you paint the shades of gray that will define the ethical integrity in your career and clarify the colors of your character.
ANSWERS: 1.) Members shall: Seek no unfair advantage over other members. When an opinion of value is given it should be uninfluenced by personal motivation or gain (REBNY)
2.) Duties to clients and customers: Shall submit offers and counter-offers objectively and as quickly as possible. (NAR)
Adelaide Polsinelli is a veteran real estate professional with more than 25 years of real estate brokerage experience. She is senior director at Eastern Consolidated, an investment sales firm in New York