#RTB | Absolute Candor

Over the course of the 20 years I’ve been in real estate, and in particular in the years I’ve spent in Social Media, I’ve heard Realtors say something over and over and over.

And every time I hear this thing being said, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

Really? REALLY? Really…

Every time I hear it, I think, “Really? REALLY? Is that REALLY how you think? Is that REALLY how you run your business? REALLY? Wow.”

So, what is this thing that Realtors say that drives me so crazy? This:

“I do ‘X’ because my clients expect me to.”

“X” of course represents anything our clients ask us to do as Realtors.

Whether it makes sense, or not.

Whether it actually increases our likelihood of being successful, or not.

Whether it is effective, or not.

Whether it is in our client’s best interests, or not.

Examples include advertising in print media (very cost ineffective, not where buyers are looking, nearly extinct, etc.). And open houses (great for picking up buyers, not great for selling our listings, dangerous, liability-laden, etc.). Or taking a listing that is overpriced (which agents so often do out of fear of not getting the listing).

And 50 other things I could mention that clients often ask us to do because they so often “think they know real estate,” or their “aunt Jane is a great agent in Awshucksville, Mississippi, and she says this works every time,” or “I already checked out Zillow, so I know what my home is really worth.”

(NOTE: This post is NOT about particular techniques and whether they are or are not effective; please keep reading and don’t miss the larger point I am ultimately going to make.)

Who’s the Expert?

Now, picture yourself walking into your doctor’s office and saying, “You know, Dr. Johnson, I do appreciate your advice and all, but I don’t think a CAT scan makes sense in this situation. Instead, I think we need to prescribe me some penicillin. I have a friend who is a pediatrician, and even though he hasn’t seen my patient file and he really doesn’t know half the facts, that’s what he thinks we should do. So, that’s what I expect you to do, OK?”

Or walking into your lawyer’s office and saying, “I was watching ‘Ally McBeal re-runs the other night, and they used this one technique that seemed to work great. So, instead of accepting the settlement we’ve been offered, let’s roll the dice and give that a try, OK? That’s what I expect you do to, capiche?”
At this point, I’m guessing you might be thinking, “These are such over-the-top, ridiculous examples.”

Because you would probably never actually tell your doctor…or your lawyer…or your CPA…how to do their job, or how they should treat you, or how they should represent you, or how they should file your tax return, right?

I know I wouldn’t.

We hire professionals to represent us because they are EXPERT at what they do, right? Otherwise, why would we engage them and pay them for their services?

So, if that’s true, why would we as professionals who sell real estate allow our clients to tell us how to do OUR jobs?

I would suggest that any time we do something that we know is not optimal for our clients, we are breaching our fiduciary responsibilities to our clients.

And I would go a step further and say that this is not my opinion. I think this is an objective fact.


Here’s how dictionary.law.com defines “fiduciary:”



Note that second-to-last sentence, which includes this phrase: “…and absolute candor is required.”

“Absolute candor” means exactly that: we must be ABSOLUTE in our truth-telling to our clients.

So, if we believe that what our clients want us to do is not the optimal course of action, we are OBLIGATED to tell them that.

In other words, it doesn’t matter what THEY THINK. What matters is what WE KNOW.

Ergo, we should NEVER use the expression, “I do that because my clients expect me to.”

We either say, “I do that because it’s what I believe is the best course of action for my client,” or we simply don’t do whatever that thing is.

To say “I do that because my clients expect me to” comes across as “I don’t really believe in doing that, but I have to do that to keep my clients happy.”

And THAT is NOT the absolute candor we are required by law to provide to each and every one of our clients to whom we have a fiduciary responsibility…

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