Contracts drive the real estate business. We know the obvious contracts as a Buyer Agent Contract, Listing Contract. These are contracts between consumers and real estate firms. Without a contract it’ll be uncertain who’s paying who, when, how much, and for doing what. With a contract we have the rules of engagement and the boundaries of the playing field. Any question about who, what, when, and where can be answered by reading the contract. Baseball and football are good analogies for contracts. By rules we can see what is in-bounds, fair, foul, illegal. Rewards (runs, points) are earned by complying with the rules.
Order is kept in sports by playing by the rules. There are times when we wish the rules could be suspended to favor our position. Earning 6 points by crossing the 20 yard line instead of the goal line would be better if it only applied to me. A fly ball to the warning track could be a home run, but it’s not. Why don’t we allow it sometimes, especially when the other side asks nicely, or demands the exception?
The contract real estate firms have with each other to cooperate and compensate is good for the consumer and the industry. Keeping order and a fair playing field begins with clear rules. But only compliance with those rules enhances civility. One idea that is not a rule of engagement in contracts is the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule sounds like a higher standard. It is not. It’s a weapon to manipulate a decision in favor of the person who wants to change the rules to permit them fluctuate rules to their benefit. “Treat other people as you want to be treated” is not intended to be used by me to manipulate you into doing what I want for myself. It’s not intended to be a statement. It’s a thought to be applied to myself, not you.
Over and over one member or our association demands another member follow the golden rule and award them for doing less than or nothing close to crossing the goal line. It’s not even a request. Just a self righteous expectation. “Rules are fine but let me decide the rules. I’ll do that based on what’s good for me. ” My question is this: Why are Professional Standards not sufficient to determine right from wrong? Why do we need a subjective concept of a “golden rule” other than to hit the other guy over the head to coerce him into seeing things our way? We don’t.
We could end commission disputes between firms today by agreeing to abide by the contracts. Never should a Realtor show up 7 weeks after a transaction begins and interject himself and hold the process hostage until deviation is agreed to. We can’t expect every member to know black from white. But we can expect leaders to know. Unless we can trust the Brokers to leave opinions at the door and help referee the parties into their own lanes, and not to a compromise, we have no order. Blurred lines are not a better alternative to boundaries. Pretending the line is blurred is unethical. There is no home field advantage in this business. You either have earned the Offer of Compensation by the rules of engagement, or not.
Brokers who think the two sides to every story are equal, and take a position of rolling the dice in arbitration may get what they want more often than not. That’s unfortunate. Self regulation is a lot easier when once side isn’t rewriting the rules to fit their golden desires. When we didn’t earn it, we don’t ask for compensation. And we certainly don’t demand it. Those are the rules. Let them work.