When I started out in real estate 20 years ago, there were some of the most professional agents in the business. At least that is the way it appeared to me at the time. I started out in New York City which was very different than any other housing market, very different from the mainstream marketplaces and totally unlike any other real estate market today. I learned from them and I gained more respect from the public at that time because there was real appreciation for what we do as real estate professionals.

There was a continuity to the way this industry operated then--that was the late 1990's and early 2000's-- and most real estate marketplaces were well accustomed to the daily grind and hard fought battles by those of us who earned our livings that way and that  is what made our accomplishments the epitome of what "Independent Contractor" means.


Somewhere between those early years of the business and today, the real estate agent fell from grace. Somehow our profession hit the bottom of the scale measuring the most trusted and the least respected of most professions. We ended up ranking somewhere between a used car salesman and a lawyer when it comes to "trust"!!THE BAD TREATMENT OF AGENTS

This was not good. Not good for the profession certainly but even worse for those of us who were out there breaking our backs to become the best at what we do--to become the most informed, the most polished agents in the history of real estate sales.

Recent years in the real estate profession have revealed that the treatment of agents is Legend! I hear agents frequently now stating: "If I could write a movie script I would write these horrible stories of how we are treated in real estate!"


I have started to keep a log of the way things have gone wrong--

  • of the deals I have lost to unethical fellow agents (mostly)
  • but then there are the buyers who buy a house, that I showed to them, through another agent.
  • there are the sellers who list with me and after a time, after seeing that the marketing, correct pricing and advertising has moved the property quickly, they pull the listing, leaving me with nothing but the bills!

I was reading a NAR report that appeared in the Washington Post in 2015 and it was all about how agents are viewed by the public. It contained all the standard complaints that agents hear, but this time there were dramatic statements about real estate agents, their qualifications and dis-qualifications and it was a devastating commentary by the NAR: -a-blunt-assessment-of-problems-facing-their-business/2015/06/09/7c27dbe6-0deb-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html   

Because of this report and even though it is now 2years old, I have decided to take the approach of a "Revolutionary"...I am refusing to allow the old ways and the old abuses to continue in my business; after all, I am in my own business in spite of the fact that I have chosen to be part of a collective (Brokerage)!...AND I MAKE MY LIVING THIS WAY!!

The NAR report did nothing to disclose what we, as licensed professionals have to put up with! Even though it was a 2015 report, I am finding that the treatment we get has gotten worse not better--this report only serves to justify our being mistreated by the public and our fellow agents in my humble opinion!

The idea that we have to treat our buyers and sellers in a certain way in order to maintain a good reputation, is not working for me any more! Although I have complete respect for the ethical treatment of all people, I do not intend to be mistreated any longer by anyone.

I lost a total of five (5) deals in 2016 due to the fact that I did not protect the "investment" of my time and efforts.


Below is a list of things I am now instituting in my attempt to thwart any other unethical individuals from pulling a fast one on me. The best I can hope for is that I cut down on the number of incidences.

  • I now keep a "call list" (not to be confused with my customer/client base)  and I make a special effort to stay in touch with customers who have stopped looking at properties with me. These are the ones who have "disappeared" on me.  I make sure to discuss all properties that I have shown to them in my follow-up --and I put it in writing in an email for their records and mine.
  • I make sure to let the prospective buyer know that as a standard practice, I will keep a record of what I have shown them and that now will require them to sign a statement that they saw these houses with me as I show them. I believe that will let them feel less likely to want to go against the "rule" of buying something that I showed to them through another agent .
  • When I take an exclusive listing now, I make sure to let the homeowner know that I will be putting a lot of time and effort into creating the listing, to say nothing of the costs of advertising their home.
  • I use a "14 DAY ACTION PLAN" to identify the things I will be doing for the new listing in the first 2 weeks on the market. The first 2 weeks on a new listing are the most critical for it to get the most and best exposure. It makes an impact on the homeowner and they are now aware of exactly what I do when I market their property!
  • I inform the seller of the value of keeping consistency with an agent and a company to maximize the potential sale of the listing and I always get a head start when doing a renewal of a listing agreement, usually three weeks in advance of an exclusive expiring. This can prevent another agent from stepping in with a different pitch and capturing a homeonwers attention with a new song and dance.
  • I now include a clause that the seller will reimburse me for all the costs of  marketing their home if they cancel their exclusive agreement short of the agreed-to time period in all my new listings.
  • When an owner has an "exclusion" with a buyers name inserted into the listing agreement, I allow a certain time period for that individual to exercise the right to buy said property. This is usually 30 to 60 days from the starting date of the term of the exclusive agreement. A contract in that buyers name must be fully executed  in order for the exclusion to be considered exercised.

FINDING THE KEYWith these new tactics in my tool kit, I hope I have found the key to avoiding any more bad experiences. The real estate market has made a sea-change with the quality of it's agents and with the level of disrespect for those of us who rely on income from our sales.

I am sorry to say that there are no rewards for integrity in this business and in fact there is a better chance that you will be mistreated in a real estate deal than you will receive accolades for a deal well-done!

I can only hope that things are the way they are currently because of the relative discord and chaos in the whole political arena and that things will get back to some normalcy now that the election is over...




                                     **ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY.  The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate


Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995;  Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York

Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005


Click here to see my Hampton's website to see all my listings; please email me or call me for all your real estate needs in Southampton, Bridgehampton and Watermill:



Comment balloon 6 commentsPaula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA • December 04 2016 03:53PM


Wow - great post and as a new agent, I just wrote a post about this and the horrible demise of our profession. Well-said and I like the fact you added a clause about the seller paying for your advertising should they cancel their contract. Great advice for us newbies. Yes, integrity surely is rare. Sad. 

Posted by Lisa Hernandez, Realtor serving Kendall, South Miami & Pinecrest (Opes Real Estate Group) over 2 years ago

Hmm, Paula your article is well written and shows how different market areas really are.  Our market here in the foothills of California doesn't appear to follow in the path of what you have been describing.  Perhaps we have just been lucky, but our Realtors do abide by professional standards of conduct. 

Buyers of course can move around...  I know I have picked up buyers that have been shopping for a while with someone else, but they got tired of the lack of service received.  Not saying that was happening with you.  

I don't ever see myself "forcing" a Buyer to buy from me through making a list of the properties shown...  I do believe it a good idea to follow up with the listings shown to remind them of the time we have spent together...

Here in our area it seems that my Buyers do a lot more research on their own before they ever ask to see any properties.  When I was "young" in the business in the 70's and 80's I previewed and drove my clients to show properties.  Now we develop a relationship, and they drive listings and neighborhoods before they ever say "show me that house".  They will call me on flyers pulled for listings they like... and away we go.


A listing and marketing plan is always part of my presentation to future Sellers.  They do need to know what action steps we will be taking and what to expect by way of marketing.  Our Sellers become part of my team in selling their home and as such they know the energies expended.  Communication is also a biggie.  Staying in touch and updating Sellers with feed back from agents and prospects helps us to make revisions in pricing if necessary.

The New Year is always a good time to review what works and what doesn't and how to improve.  Thank you for sharing your frustrations and suggestions.  I'll be going to the link next and reading the report,too.  

In conclusion, I set myself apart from unprofessional agents - and practice professionalism... my clients see this and work with me.  Those that don't well - I seem to weed them out at the start.  It is my business, and I have turned away both buyers and sellers who didn't seem a fit.


Posted by Ingrid Pierson, Making Friends & Helping Friends with Real Estate (HomeTown Realtors) over 2 years ago

I find that many times the agents with less than stellar working habits are the ones that give us the bad name and are the ones that are hard to work with

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 2 years ago

Lisa: Thanks for reading this---I enjoyed reading yours as well--as I said in my comment to your post: "Great minds think alike!"....Must be a trend here with agents re-evaluating how the business is going for them--this has been one he-- of a year for me!! I learned alot and I am not a Newbie!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 2 years ago

Ingrid: You are terrific! I can see that your professionalism is what leads you and that is to me, an ideal! This market is a rare one by the way and I see you picked up on that. We have about 50 miles at the end of Long Island, New York and the Hamptons is probably 15-20 miles wide at the widest so you can see what we are dealing with here. We have over 2000 agents and most are not from here!! So there are a lot of learning agents and quite a few established agents too so it gets very competative with those who know what they are doing and the ones with beginners luck who are doing deals in spite of lack of experience....add to that the fact that we have a luxury, second home market and limited inventory and there you have it!! I have been in the business so long but have been finding that the last few years have been particularly rough for all of us...I hear it from every agent I know and all the tried and true practices that used to be perfect for us in this market, do not work any more. Thank you for you input; it is fascinating to see how the business does not have to be so cut-throat!  

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 2 years ago

William: I agree--then there are those who start to feel a pinch when things slow down--desperate people do desperate things!...That goes for sellers as well. We do have a well educated buyer in these times and I do feel that sometimes can bring on difficult situations too...Thanks for reading and responding!

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 2 years ago