Active Rain March 9, 2010

Problems With an Agent? Contact Their Broker

This is for both consumers and agents alike who have written about issues they have had with bad real estate agents. I have seen a lot of this lately, and the problems run from the annoying (won’t return calls) to the dumb (leaves a house unlocked) to the ridiculous (something illegal, like fraud, misrepresentation, or a fair housing infraction). In New York, the broker is liable for everything their agent does in their work. If an agent fails to present an offer, the broker gets fined. If an agent breaks a fair housing law, their broker’s license is in jeopardy. If an agent commits fraud, their broker committed fraud in Albany’s eyes. 

Yet of all the rants, complaints and incredulity I have read, I can’t think of one that actually picked up the phone and called that agent’s broker. Why is this so? Many comments have rightly suggested reporting the offender to their board or filing an ethics grievance, but only one commenter has, with any consistency, stated that the broker should be contacted. 

As a broker-owner myself, I want to know when one of my agents does something wrong. It is my liability, my good name, and my license on the line if they do. I can talk to them, re-train them, cut off their leads, and if need be, show them to the door. In my case, I do have leverage, because all new agents get the liability talk at the start. There is no excuse for unprofessional behavior. 

Brokers do have the power to make a difference. They just have to care. Whenever I’ve had a “run in” with a rogue agent I’ve contacted their broker or manager. In most cases, they’ve said the right thing at the very least. In a few cases, they have been ambivalent, but at least those instances I didn’t have to wonder whether or not a more serious action was needed. 

Contact the broker if you have a problem with an agent. That will inform you what action, if any, is needed next.