BROKER WARS: Tales from the Front
This is Part 2 of a my three-part series on broker ethics in New York City.
State law outlines a real estate agent’s fiduciary responsibilities to their clients, including obedience, loyalty, disclosure of information, confidentiality and accountability as well as reasonable care, skill and diligence.
Yet not one of the brokers in Part 1 of this series has complied with his or her obligation to serve the best interests of their clients. They are not alone, and the widespread practice of ignoring the law’s strictures is deplorable and disgraceful.
To obtain a real estate license, salespersons have to take 75 hours of classes and pass a multiple-choice test of laughable simplicity and absurd brevity. By contrast, cosmetologists such as hair stylists must have 1,000 hours of training and also are required to pass a test. Talk about a low threshold for real estate practitioners.
It is tempting to say that more training and education would ameliorate the situations such as the ones that I have described. But I don’t believe that training and education alone are the answer.
Still, the amount that most agents and brokers receive is minimal, whether from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) or from their firms.
REBNY requires a two-hour ethics course for its new members. I took the course almost four years ago. Comparing it with the numerous ones I had to attend while selling real estate in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia until 2006, let’s just say that the REBNY course was a waste of everyone’s time, about which I e-mailed the organization – to no effect.
Before writing this post, I tried to find anything about REBNY’s ethical standards online, but the only information on the Web site had to do with class schedules. Although I have heard that it is possible to make a complaint, I am at a loss to know how.
Moreover, I understand that nothing ever happens to offenders anyway.
So, it seems that about the only recourse for a complainant is to lodge a lawsuit relating to a lapse of fiduciary responsibilities. You can be sure that it doesn’t happen a lot, if ever.
In the third and final part of my series tomorrow, I’ll suggest a way to impose respectable and respected ethical standards. Even though a process is prevalent across the country, I am not the least bit sanguine that my modest proposal will be adopted.
Next: Part 3: “. . .will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate. . . “
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022