The High Road: The customer is not always right

There can come a time when a broker has to say good-bye. (Photo by _6ft5)

A real estate broker infrequently has to bid adieu to a buyer or seller who is devious or merely mischievous.   And it  always is regrettable when that situation arises.

The fact is that, when it comes to real estate, the customer is not always right.  In that case, the customer or client should be fired.

With sellers, the time to terminate the relationship is when the property owner insists that the broker conceal a material defect.  Of course, that is against the law.

What is “material” can be open to dispute, but the safest course is for the broker to walk away in the event of a disagreement.  Examples might be an electrical system that won’t tolerate a hair dryer, a toilet that invariably requires a plumber’s helper, balky radiators that fail to heat a residence beyond the comfort level or an uncontrollable infestation of vermin that appear only at night.

There is a host of examples, and you need think only of issues that have cost you money in the past to imagine some of them.

With buyers, the demarcation between behavior that is acceptable and that which is not does admit to such a bright line.

In my view, those who deserve to be fired are the buyers who act like the Lone Ranger — for example, contacting sellers’ brokers on their own for additional information.  I also have problems with buyers who conceal significant information about themselves, don’t otherwise act as if we are a team or misrepresent their intentions or aspects of themselves that could sour a transaction.

If real estate brokers are to be held to a high standard, I believe the folks with whom we work should be as well.  In other words, the customer may not engage in misrepresentation, concealment or other inappropriate activity.

By definition, those buyers and sellers who act in bad faith are clearly in the wrong.  They are the ones who deserve to be fired.

I’ve done it, and I am sure that I’ll have to do it again.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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