By Bruce H. Aydt, CRB, executive vice president and legal counsel for The Henry Co., REALTORS®, St. Louis.
Real Estate Ethics: Good Ethics = Good Business, 3rd ed. William H. Pivar & Donald L. Harlan. 192pp. Real Estate Education Company, a division of Dearborn Financial Publishing Inc.,1995. $16.95.
If you’ve ever had a little voice pop into your head and ask, “What’s the right thing to do here?” this book may be for you.
Real Estate Ethics is a practical, easy-to-read guide that covers such things as the meaning of ethics, the roles of listing salespeople and buyer’s agents, and the ethics of trust accounts and advertising. The authors do an excellent job of presenting their views on the philosophical role that real estate professionals should assume with fellow brokers and salespeople, both inside and outside their company, with buyers and sellers, and in their community.
For instance, the book calls upon us to remember bigger issues in our business than just the next deal: “By the very nature of their business, real estate licensees have a greater control over the formation and character of a community than does any other group. They therefore have a duty to be community-oriented.”
Each chapter also provides a good mix of text and case studies, which analyze real-life ethics problems. For example, the chapter on advertising and ethics presents the case of a newspaper that runs a series of articles on real estate frauds. All the major real estate advertisers pull their advertising, causing a 20 percent decline in the paper’s ad revenue. The paper then runs a series of articles complimentary to real estate. Is what the advertisers did unethical? The authors say yes. The action indicates “a concerted effort to punish the newspaper.”
Among the practical tips worth noting is one emphasizing that seller’s and buyer’s agents should avoid adversarial relationships and cooperate to achieve the best results for clients.
The book offers reminders, too, about the need to make backup disks and to provide adequate protection for escrow records, away from the broker’s site and in fireproof places, such as a safe.
Although Real Estate Ethics is a very good resource, it would be even better if the authors had clarified why they believe certain conduct is unethical. Is their conclusion based on what they perceive to be a violation of law or of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics or simply their opinion? It also appears that some legal standards are treated as ethical ones.
Overall, however, Real Estate Ethics is a worthwhile addition to a real estate professional’s library. It may help you evaluate the many moral decisions you face in this complex business.
By Dave Siweck, CRB, CRS®, GRI, vice president, ERA–Gem Realty, Tucson, Ariz.
1001 Ways to Reward Employees By Bob Nelson (Workman Publishing Co.) 1994. 192 pages. $9.95
Recognition makes for a happy workplace, and 1001 Ways to Reward Employees provides valuable resources you can use to implement a company recognition program. You’ll discover ideas you can take advantage of to reward both independent contractors and office staff.
With statistical data from employee surveys, the book explains the significance of recognition and shows what types of recognition most employees prefer. And even though many of the book’s ideas aren’t specific to the industry, you can easily adapt them. For instance, three guidelines for effectively recognizing and rewarding workers are
- Match the reward to the person
- Match the reward to the achievement
- Be timely and specific
There are also bulleted lists of quick reward ideas and tips. Examples of informal rewards include a note on a paycheck envelope (“Thanks for all your hard work on this one”) and a congratulatory letter from the company president.
For those who have a small or nonexistent budget for recognition, 1001 Ways offers lots of low-cost tips: a facial, a massage, a manicure, or even a round of golf. Some of the suggestions are even funny or food for thought. For instance, for somebody who likes golf, you may get a miniature golf set for the office.
The book also lists companies that provide special rewards and companies that coordinate unusual reward activities, such as pancake breakfasts at which managers serve breakfast to employees. It even offers lists of reward-travel coordinators.
This is a book you should keep as a reference for finding new and creative rewards when you think it’s time to give recognition. You may even want to give the book—as a reward, perhaps?—to your salespeople. They may find it valuable for motivating, retaining, and rewarding their personal assistants.