Real Estate Ethics & Courtesy

15 Replies

I do not know what rules Realtor's live by so I am posting this for a little insight from the forum.

We recently listed a property for sale in Riverside, Ca. The listing is currently "active" with a local broker. I drove up to my property this afternoon and found a real estate sign on my property that said:

"Bank Owned Home! 24 hour recorded message 1-800-xxx-xxxx listing #104"

Thinking my broker was "out of touch" for my non-bank owned home I called the 1-800 number and heard my listing being read directly to me - I pushed the button to connect with an agent and ...... I was connected to an agent for a different broker. Apparently this broker simply placed his sign on my property - hence attempting to not only degrade my fully re-hab'd property by calling it "bank owned" but also to steal my brokers business.

This could not have been a mistake as the message on the recording was word for word duplicate of my listing, therefore the broker knew he was placing a sign on another brokers listing.

This must be against some Realtor "Rule" or "Code" - What, if anything, should be done?

If you are absolutely sure that this is not a mistake, have a lawyer right a cease and desist letter immediately. Demand that the phone number will stay up but the recording would change to state that this property is not a bank owned.

Most of the people you deal with are not actually brokers, but rather agents. Every office does have to have a licensed broker in charge. Call the office of the agent who added that sign, and speak with the broker in charge. Explain what happened and ask for an explanation. I honestly can't imagine one agent hijaking another agent's listing, but I can imagine an address being incorrectly passed along and someone putting up the sign and making the recording for the wrong house.

I've had similar issues with brokers who make excellent agents, but when they try to parlay their success as an agent into being a broker - fail miserably. Allow them a chance to have made a human management mistake and let them correct it. It is likely you will garner getter long term service being honey rather than vinegar.

Originally posted by Jon Holdman:
Most of the people you deal with are not actually brokers, but rather agents. Every office does have to have a licensed broker in charge. Call the office of the agent who added that sign, and speak with the broker in charge. Explain what happened and ask for an explanation. I honestly can't imagine one agent hijaking another agent's listing, but I can imagine an address being incorrectly passed along and someone putting up the sign and making the recording for the wrong house.


That's the rub. I am a very forgiving and logical person - the voice on the recording was "computer voice" reading the exact listing. With software that reads the listing when called - there can be nothing but pure intent to hijack the listing. I was astounded - really. And yes I verified the overseeing broker with the sign was not the same nor affiliated with the broker who oversees my listing agent.

Originally posted by Tim Wieneke:
I've had similar issues with brokers who make excellent agents, but when they try to parlay their success as an agent into being a broker - fail miserably. Allow them a chance to have made a human management mistake and let them correct it. It is likely you will garner getter long term service being honey rather than vinegar.


So forgiving you are. I do not plan to do anything about it except take down the sign - but I was looking for input from Realtors as to what rules and or codes this broker is violating. There is not a logical nor reasonable explanation other than intentional hijacking of another Realtor's listing. - As I said before it was astounding arrogance. I was just wondering if anyone agreed.

Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity, incompetence or just an error. Really, do you think a licensed agent would try to "hijack" a listing? How can that possibly succeed? Its not as if they're going to be able to present an offer to the seller - you! They're not going to get paid at closing. What's the upside for them having someone call?

The fact that its a computer voice reading it makes it even more clear its an error. Most likely, someone mistyped a MLS number into some system, and that set the chain of events in motion. That went to a service that assigns a number, sends someone out with the sign, and links the phone number to the MLS number. Once that's done, the computer just reads the listing on the phone.

Originally posted by Jon Holdman:
Never ascribe to malice what can be explained by stupidity, incompetence or just an error. Really, do you think a licensed agent would try to "hijack" a listing? How can that possibly succeed? Its not as if they're going to be able to present an offer to the seller - you! They're not going to get paid at closing. What's the upside for them having someone call?

The fact that its a computer voice reading it makes it even more clear its an error. Most likely, someone mistyped a MLS number into some system, and that set the chain of events in motion. That went to a service that assigns a number, sends someone out with the sign, and links the phone number to the MLS number. Once that's done, the computer just reads the listing on the phone.


I guess I am simply jaded.

The upside is for buyers that drive by and call off the sign - for these buyers he can act as the buyers agent or simply add them to his list to contact for other homes.

I looked up the broker and he is out of Temecula - if he were out of Los Angeles or Long Beach I would be less forgiving. I will give you the possibility of the wrong listing being typed in which set forth a chain of events... but that is a hard nut to swallow given my experience of keys stolen from lock boxes, signs torn down so others do not know of deals etc - just standard So Cal business practices. Does that happen with regularity in your area also? I know of agents that stop taking offers when keys go missing until they are replaced and then the clock is restarted.

You are right - maybe it was simply a mistake. It would be interesting to find out.

Being a realtor, I think the consequences for a realtor trying to hijack another realtors listing far outway the benefits. This is possibly an annoying but like Jon says honest mistake.

Just curious!? If your property is listed with a agent-Why wasn't your agents sign already at the property? I didn't see that remark in your original post!

Originally posted by Matt Mathews:
Just curious!? If your property is listed with a agent-Why wasn't your agents sign already at the property? I didn't see that remark in your original post!



We took it down to work on the lawn.
(We already had 7 offers and were making the final decision on which to accept - so the sign was no longer necessary)

I'll be curious to hear what you find out about the other sign. I also missed the fact your agent didn't have a sign out. That even more makes me think this is just a mis-typed MLS number. The listing service looked at the address for the number they were given and sent someone out with a sign. No sign there, right address, up it goes. If your sign had been up, they probably would have called in and asked what was going on.

I think Jon is exactly correct, wrong MLS number was submitted to the sign/phone guy and he just did his job and put everything up. When I sold real estate in Arizona I was constantly getting calls from homeowners who "my guys" dug up there yard and put my sign in front of there house they dont wanna sell (actually scored a listing this way too) but the problem was most of the realtors paid this one sign company to install/remove the signs, and they paid this kid nothing to drive around and install them, hed install the signs wrong all the time, on the south block instead of north, 209 instead of 902, stuff like that. Finally kid got fired, quit making me look so bad!
As far as the telephone number, those people never see the property, say what is typed, and the kid installing the sign is suppost to put the right access # sign on your sign.! hopefully hes not high the day he installs your signs!
-Scott

Originally posted by Moimeme:
Being a realtor, I think the consequences for a realtor trying to hijack another realtors listing far outway the benefits. This is possibly an annoying but like Jon says honest mistake.


Jon is probably correct - honest mistake. However, I don't remember reading that you spoke directly with your agent about the matter. Apologies if I missed something. Your agent should be handling all aspects of the sale for you, including dealing with any rogue signs. Since most agents are independent contractors, and are only affiliated with their brokerages, not direct employees, there is a good chance that the broker would not be aware of any arrangement your agent may or may not have with another agent regarding signage.

You are correct that REALTORS® are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics, which includes, among other things, a prohibition from knowingly soliciting the client(s) of another agent. If that is what's going on here, the agent placing the sign is behaving unethically and your agent should take appropriate action on your behalf.

Interesting post!

Contact the Department of Real Estate in California (http://dre.ca.gov) and issue a complaint against the broker number for who's sign it was.

It does sound like a mistake to me though.

Sign Jumping is a breech of ethics and in some areas it can be illegal If it was intentional. If it is within the same office it might be an agreement with the managing broker but you can not advertise a house as bank owned if it is not. Some other issues my be involved and I agree talking with the listing agent is the first step for anyone experiencing this.

Shane