If I'm drunk, fall down the stairs and break my leg, I think all of us would expect that the doctor who treats me, would do everything he could to help, not harm me. He would set my legs, put a cast on them, prescribe some medicine and schedule me for follow up treatment. Why should we as Real Estate Agents be expected to provide any less to our clients that are drunk and have a broken leg?
Earlier today, I was doing my typical three time a day vent/rant/discussion/ general annoyance to my esteemed and venerable colleague Ann Cummings, and I was smooshing some sour grapes over how I had lost a particular listing of a person close to me, to an agent that I feel committed malpractice.
So as to protect the names and identities of the innocent (and the not so innocent), this particular agent, let us call her... Thomasa Brady. So Ms. Thomasa Brady is called by Mr. and Mrs. Seller, let us call them hmmm... Mr. and Mrs. Venus Williams. Yes, that would make Mr. Venus Williams a girl, but since this is my story, you are going to have to just deal with it. I told you that I was smooshing sour grapes.
Mr. and Mrs. Venus Williams are behind on their mortgage when they call Ms. Thomasa Brady. Venus and his wife fall in love with Ms. Thomasa Brady when she tells them there house is worth 2.5 million! They're good old friend Josh told them the truth that it was only worth 2 million at that time, but phooey with him. Isn't a Real Estate Agent a Real Estate Agent? This lady says it with such certainty, how could she be wrong? How fabulous is this Ms. Brady? She just made the Williams a lot of money! The Williamses only owe 1.9 million on their house, so life should be good. They have equity (a lot according to Ms. Thomasa Brady) so even with the rapidly clicking foreclosure clock, they feel good putting their home on the market under the "experience and guidance" of Ms. Brady. If she is wrong they will just reduce their price, and sell it where GOJ (good ol Josh) told them to list it.
In reality, what Ms. Brady did, was remove the broken legs of a drunken Mr. and Mrs. Venus Williams.
Fast forward six months. Having overpriced their property under the advise of the smooth talking Ms. Brady, Mr. and Mrs. Venus Williams are now staring down the barrel of the proverbial foreclosure gun. Having already reduced their price from 2.5 million, to the 2 million value it was worth, they have now hobbled on their broken legs to 1.75 million, where they have finally found a buyer! Only, this is short sale territory. Not only will the Venus Williams family not receive any money, they are humiliated, and will receive a death like sentence on their credit. Harming for a long time, their ability to take care of their two kids.
So back to the fabulous, smart and sensational Ann Cummings. So I'm blowing off steam to her about how wronged I was (although she already knew because I've been telling her for the last 6 months). I was the only one that was honest with them. If they had listened to me they would have sold it already. Ms. Brady lied to them to get the listing. She hurt them. She 'committed real estate malpractice???' I say, "but Ann Ann (that's what I call her), she cut the legs off of them to fix their broken legs when just a cast would have done." Ann Ann, in her infinite wisdom (I'm not sure if it is really infinite, but mine is so finite that hers sure does look infinite to me) says, "but she didn't break their legs." No, they were drunk, fell down the stairs and broke their own. It doesn't really matter how they broke their legs: the doctor treats the victim with a broken leg the same whether they were side swiped by a drunken driver or they were drunk and fell down the stairs. Regardless of how the legs got broken, the question remains the same:
Aren't we as Real Estate practitioners, supposed to prescribe what is best for the client?
Ms. Brady knew their situation. Knew they had broken legs. She should have prescribed the appropriate treatment. The problem is, is that there is no standard treatment. There is no one that can say "This house was worth 'x' on this day" with absolute certainty. Not like you can get 45 doctors to all diagnosis that same broken leg with the same type of fracture, and prescribe the same treatment. Actually, quite the opposite as you could find three different opinions of value in the same RE/MAX hospital in which I operate. Ahh, but hindsight is 20/20 and in our case Mr. and Mrs. Venus Williams now have that benefit. They now know for a fact that the home was not worth what Ms. Thomasa Brady prescribed them. In fact, they were prescribed the wrong medicine that led to the loss of their legs! What would we do to a Doctor that prescribed the wrong medicine that led to the loss of a patients legs?
But Josh, it's not the Agents fault that their legs were broken in the first place!
But it is our job to treat the situation with the utmost care, obedience, accountability, disclosure and loyalty. To use our training, knowledge and experience to the benefit of our clients- not ourselves. To me there are a few lessons that I am taking out of this. One, as always, it's about the client, not the agent. Two, I can't win them all. That's right, I am making it a point to stop smooshing my sour grapes right now! Ok, now! Starting now. Well this one is a work in progress. Three, there really should be repercussions for those agents that put themselves above the needs of their clients that it harms them. Like Ms. Brady in this circumstance, lying about price in order to get the listing; or an experienced agent that costs their client a home because of a botched short sale.
I don't know, maybe I've just drank too much of this sour wine I've just made:)