Three Reasons Why Honesty is the Best Policy

“REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.”
—Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Do you remember Mario Jannatpour? Check out this interview we did with him back in 2011. We also did a profile on him last year about his training system and all the rookies he’s helped get started in the industry. It’s a good read.

Now Jannatpour has a pretty good read on his hands as well. I just took a look through the new edition of his second book, The Honest Real Estate Agent: A Training Guide For a Successful First Year and Beyond as a Real Estate Agent,  and I really liked it. In its purest form, the book focuses in on the basic questions. You know, “How do I get started? Should I spend marketing dollars on a website or direct mail?” That sort of thing.

But what sets this book apart from all the other getting-started-in-real-estate handbooks is Jannatpour’s focus on honesty. He makes the point that it’s easy to say you’ll be honest. But when you know a huge amount about a property, how do you decide what is a need-to-know fact and what is just info-clutter?

Jannatpour says that the internal conflict over honesty “happens so fast that most times you are not even aware of it.” But there’s one very simple way to head it off at the pass:

Try to imagine yourself in your client’s shoes. Say to yourself, “Would I want to know this?” Usually you would want to know.

With this rule of thumb, I gathered three of the more persuasive reasons Jannatpour lists for being upfront:

  1. It’s what clients want. Jannatpour polled on the subject of what people want from their real estate professional, and while it was not a scientific study per se, the respondents kept coming back to the words “honesty” and “truthfulness.” Of the 23 people he quotes, variations on these two words appeared 24 times.
  2. Even if the truth causes a deal to fall through, the money will be made up elsewhere. “You will receive more referrals from satisfied clients and more repeat business over the years because you have a reputation of always being honest with your clients.”
  3. It’s simply part of the role of a real estate professional, similar to parenthood. “We have to tell our kids what they don’t want to hear because it is our job to take care of them and keep them safe. Replace ‘kids’ with ‘clients’ in that sentence and apply it to your work.”

I like how Jannatpour marries the subjects of honesty and getting started in real estate, but I want to hear what you think. Should “Honesty 101” be part of the initial training for new real estate professionals?

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]

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  1. Vicki Castellano

    Yes! It’s a shame we even have to question this.