In 2005, I wrote a humor piece about a fictional Whole Real Estate Catalogue. A comprehensive gift guide “for the Realtor who has everything” that included fanciful items like: a Portable Shark Fin Accessory to stick on the top of flashy cars, an Armani Hazmat Suit to sell toxic assets in style, Sock Puppet Listing Presentations, Cover-Your-Ass Fanny Packs, UnVanity License Plates, etc.
My favorite item was a Moral Compass, a pocket-sized, directional device Realtors could carry with them on their daily rounds. One that could act as an internal GPS system and tell them where their hearts and consciences should lie in any given situation. It acknowledged that, in their travels, Agents are often confronted with small ethical dilemmas, little white “sales” lies and occasional temptations to fudge, bend or stretch the rules. No good Realtor should leave home or sell homes without one, it said.
It was a different day and age back then and an ethics charge was filed against me at the Board of Realtors by someone who felt that when I suggested Agents might benefit from a Moral Compass, I was impugning the integrity of all Realtors.
Here…now… in the midst of the corona impasse, it might be a good time to dust off the notion of a Moral Compass. Maybe some of those big private firms out there can adjust their assembly lines to make an extra hundred thousand of them for Realtors in California. The ones feeling the urge to stretch and bend the rules around Shelter in Place.
Even though the County Health order is clear, some Agents seem to be having trouble understanding the concept of an “essential” business. And yes, sometimes it feels like Real Estate is an essential business. And there are people stressed because their homes aren’t being shown or held open. And there are buyers who are anxious to take advantage – especially with a lot more time on their hands. And yes, we would all like to be able to go back to work and resume business as usual.
But what would those compasses say about the right moral and ethical actions Realtors should take during Shelter in Place? Should each Agent be given free rein to decide whether their personal business is essential or not? What’s the most important action any of us can take to insure the health and the future of the communities we live in and work in?
Stay Home. That’s where True North lies in this instance.