I am a real estate agent. The Managing broker, who is also the Office Manager of the firm we are affiliated with, is hogging all the listings. Recently he has picked a favorite agent to be his partner. Is this ethical?
The Managing broker has rarely worked with other agents and never had a partner before. This agent has been with the firm for 1 month and has already accumulated more listings in that month than most of the other agents. They have been given to her by the Managing broker. There are 3 other new agents that have not received any leads from the broker.
I personally have been with this Company for almost 4 years and have had only a few bones thrown my way but consider myself treated better at least than these poor new agents who are being ignored while all the business is going to the broker’s new partner. Is the broker typically supposed to compete with the real estate agents in his office that he is also supposed to be supervising? And is there a conflict of interest with this favored agent?
Real Estate Agent
OFFICE-POLITICS REPLY BY FRANKE JAMES
Dear Real Estate Agent,
To answer your question I turned to an experienced and down-to-earth real estate agent who has been in business for many years. Chris Reynolds is an Associate Broker/MVA with Sutton Group Bayview Realty Inc.
Chris responds, “The question about ethics in this case is simple. There is NO problem with the ethics of the way the broker/manager is conducting his business… However if I were an agent in this firm I would be ticked off too. The reason’s are obvious – there is a ‘conflict of interest’. Who knows WHY the Manager is providing listings to the NEW (lady) agent and not the others? Is she providing favours for the work she is getting? Is she family? What deal has she struck with the broker/manager? The broker/manager’s behavior appears to be slippery and his actions border on unethical, but he is really doing nothing [legally] wrong.”
In your letter you have not indicated whether this real estate office is part of a larger corporation or independently owned ‘franchises’. Assuming that there is a higher authority that this broker/manager answers to, it would probably be a good idea to turn to Head Office and ask for guidelines on the distribution of leads. Chris suggests turning to your company’s “Office Policy” manual. It should describe good business practices, and walk through various ‘what if’ scenarios. e.g. How the broker/manager distributes leads to his agents/employees.
I think the bottom-line is that it does not sound like a good business deal for the Agents. They should clarify whether the broker/manager is in competition with them, and how leads are to be distributed. While the broker/manager’s behavior may not be ‘unethical’, in the strictest sense, it is short-sighted and bad business practice. How can he build a winning team if he so obviously favours one player? The optics are very bad, and his future looks dim (witted).
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics. Let us know how things work out.
Franke James, MFA
Inventor, The Office-Politics® Game
Franke James, MFA is the Editor & Founder of Office-Politics.com. She is also the Inventor of The Office-Politics® Game a dilemma-based social game that teaches you how to play, and laugh, at office politics. It’s used by HR departments, and corporate trainers worldwide. The Office-Politics Dilemmas have been inspired by the hundreds of letters submitted to Office-Politics.com.
Publication note: This letter was originally published in 2005. We are republishing the best letters from Office-Politics and integrating them with our blog format.