“My grandmother died. And I took it really hard.”

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I hear college students uttered that phrase to their professors. A student does poorly on the final exam. They blame their grandmother passing. They cross their fingers, hoping the professor either bumps their grade or gives them a “do over”.

If I were a grandmother, final exams would scare me to death! Once those exams roll around, my chances of dying increase dramatically.


But I’m shocked to learn that the “dead grandmother” excuse continues.

I was having coffee with my friend, who is also a real estate agent. He begins his tale of the “dead grandmother”.

He is sitting in his office. Next to him is another agent. The metrosexual type. The agent brags about the weekend’s conquest. How hung over he is. We’ll call him Justin.

Justin’s cell phone rings. He says this is a client and answers the phone. “Hey, Bob! How was your weekend?”

Bob is calling because they found a house they would like to go see. As per protocol, they are calling Justin to see if they can view the house.

He writes down the address. “I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back.”

The agent looks the property up in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). After a few seconds, he says “Oh Hell No!”. Then after a few minutes of searching, he says “Perfect!” and makes a phone call.

What’s he up to?

He calls Bob back. “Bob, the house you wanted to see is being taken off the market. There’s been a death in the family. But one street over is another house, almost the same size that I think you should see.”

The agent confirms with Bob a time for the showing. Justin hangs up and turns to my friend.

“I’m not showing anyone a house that has a 2% commission. 2.5 or better baby!”

My jaw hit the floor.

Agents have a fiduciary responsibility to show their clients any home their clients wish to see. It doesn’t matter of the house is only listed on Zillow and not the MLS. It doesn’t matter if the agent’s commission is 2% or nada percent. If the clients want to put down an offer, my fiduciary responsibility compels me to submit that offer. Whether my commission is 2% or nada percent.

Not only did Justin break his fiduciary responsibility, he compounded it with a lie.

More often than not, my clients contact me about viewing a home that is only visible in Zillow. It’s not listed on the MLS. And we go and look at it. Why?

Because it’s my responsibility.

Zillow doesn’t list the agent commission. The two numbers I’m interested in is the asking price and the listing agent’s phone number. Which isn’t always easy to find.

It still shocks me that people will spend time and mental energy trying to figure out how to game the system. Wouldn’t it be easier, less risky to take that mental energy and focus on providing outstanding service to your clients?

I know I’ve railed about the Unethicals before. Agents will always quote the mantra “Clients over commission”. When it comes to the day to day practice, most Unethicals come up short.

Their actions say the contrary.

Commission over clients.

Every time I think Unethicals can’t go any lower, they somehow manage to find a way to dig a little deeper.

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