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Clients need to be able to trust you

Client trust should be the first priority in your real estate business, because once it is lost, there isno getting it back. Everystep of the way the consumer is judging you and your actions, but they can’t see what you do behind closed doors.

With business being slow for so many in this business, I’ve been getting more and more calls requesting a partnership of sorts with mortgage brokers,insurance agents, heck even warranty companies.

But, how do our clients knowthat we are on the up and up with our referrals of these companies? Well,one form of protection is RESPA. (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) This act was put in place so that the consumer would be shown on the HUD statement all compensation paid and they could then knowthat a referral was based on legit reasons and not a kick back of sorts.

The problem is, when times are thin, some like to blur this line and try toavoid this law by saying, “Oh, no one needs to know”. I’ve been getting more and more calls from warranty companies offering me a kickback if I use their services. Mortgage brokers offering free services to use them, but all these are RESPA violations no matter how small they seem.

How is the consumer to really know that we are really doing everything we do with their best interest in mind? Well, to tell you the truth, the consumer has to have a little faith, but when that faith is broken, it doesn’t just affectthat agent, it affects us all as an industry.

I had an agent tell me yesterday of a mortgage broker offering to pay for her website and her flyers if she used his services, as long as he can advertise on both. I advised her that this is a RESPA violation and she asked, “How would anyone know?” I said, “YOU WOULD and that should be a big enough reason not to.”

By doing things like this, even if your clients don’t find out, you are willing to sell out your fiduciary responsibility to them for your own financial gain.You have a financial responsibility to your clients and the only question that should ever enter in to your mind when working for your clients is,“Is the best thing for my client?” If you ever answer anything but “YES” than you need to give them another choice.

Remember it is all about trust, and once that trust is gone, so is your business.

Todd Clark (Principal Broker)
eXp Realty LLC
Comment balloon 22 commentsTodd Clark • March 26 2009 12:48AM


Oh Todd!  Your parents sure raised a fine son!  I loved your advice to your friend, "How would anyone know?" I said, "YOU WOULD and that should be a big enough reason not to."

It's late.  Time to go to sleeeeeep.  Hint, hint.


Posted by Marlene Bridges, Laguna Homes|Laguna Condos|Laguna Real Estate (Village Real Estate Services, Inc.) over 11 years ago

I appreciate when people do the right thing.  It shows a great character to do the right thing even when you don't have to.



Posted by Cameron Novak, Featured Corona Real Estate Agent Team (The Homefinding Center) over 11 years ago

Todd - right on!  I recommend the people that I have worked with that work for my clients!  They give great service and I can trust them.  No kickbacks just the knowledge that I can trust them to do their job and make mine a little easier.  Trust enough said - you have to earn it and we have to earn it from our clients - and I expect it from everyone!

Thanks for a great post!


Posted by Kathy Carson, Realtor, Lynchburg, VA, VA Homes - Lynchunberg,Bedford, Campbell (Blanks Properties) over 11 years ago

Marlene - Thanks, I'll pass that on to my parents. I wish I could take your advice on the sleeping thing, it isn't for the lack of trying.

Cameron - We all know those agents that don't though, that is why I'm taking on a training position with my new company to try to teach ethics and hard work can pay off.

Kathy - My referrals have to show they deserve it before I ever recommend someone. Even if I haven't worked with someone before, I have recommended them based on clients referrals. If my clients trust them, than I will give them a shot!

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago


The simple solution is to DISCLOSE the nature of the relationship.  It is OK to partner as long as all parties to the transaction are aware a relationship exists and agree to it.

I think you are right, there are many people trying to cut corners giving ALL professionals a bad reputation in the process.

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 11 years ago

Well said and done. I know when I lay my head down whether I have a clear conscious. I review my associated actions as they speak louder than a fee.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) over 11 years ago

It is also about ethics and being an honest, ethical person. Once you cheat a little bit, the door is cracked open.


Tom Larsen

Posted by Tom Larsen, We Shop, You Save! (The Larsen Protection Team) over 11 years ago

I second Tom's comment above. And once that door is open a little bit, it just gets easier and easier.

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) over 11 years ago

Hi Todd giving kick backs is certainly a respa violation but I am not so sure that a mortgage broker paying for advertising space on an agents website or marketing brochures is a violation.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 11 years ago

You are right. Do the right thing even when no one is looking. you will never fail

Posted by Sharon Harris, Realtor (Keller Williams Keystone Realty) over 11 years ago

Honesty and integrity is always the best policy.  Great post Todd and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by Connie Lou Barnett, GRI,CRS,CRB,SRMM,ARA,PRS,SFR,QSC (Real Living/Home Realty) over 11 years ago

Always do the right thing.  It isn't worth it to do anything else. 

Posted by Shirley Parks, Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate (Sands Realty 210-414-0966) over 11 years ago

Allison - Not always OK to partner. If the mortgage broker is paying for everything completely it is a RESPA violation.

Laura - EXACTLY!

Tom - I have a closed door policy (LOL)

Barb - And we see it over and over again don't we?

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

What's the rule?????  Know me, like me, trust me?  That's 101 of sales.  You never get to the trust without them liking and knowing.  But ultimately no trust, then #1 and 2 go away.  Cool post!  You never get hurt by the truth.


Posted by Larry Bettag, Vice-President of National Production (Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001) over 11 years ago


Those doors are doors that can come down; best to never open them



Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) over 11 years ago

Bill - If they are paying for it completely it is. If they are splitting the cost it isn't. Fine line, but there is one!

Sharon - Exactly, but some people just don't understand that concept.

Connie - My mom and dad taught me right I guess. Now if I can only teach others what they taught me.

Shirley - I wish others thought the same way we do. Short term gain, doesn't mean long term success.

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

Larry - I wish more agents and mortgage brokers played by the rules, but we will always have those that don't.

Tom - They have theirs off the hinges and laying against the wall.

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago


Once again you are right on the mark. How can an agent put his clients needs before his own if he is on the "payrole" of the companies whose services he is recommending?

When choosing an agent, character DOES matter!

Posted by Mark Hall, Homes for Sale Vancouver Washington (Realty One Group Cascadia) over 11 years ago

Hi Todd... Trust is the foundation that ANY solid relationship is built on.  It is critical to any successful transaction and should be cultivated and protected at every step.  I always have believed that treating clients the way I would choose to be treated under the same circumstances goes a long way to establishing and earning their trust.

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 11 years ago

Mark - Yes it does, by the way, we need to talk next week as I have some big changes coming to my career and I want to talk to you about one of them.

Steve - I amazed at how many people don't think this is wrong taking money in trade for recomending them. I know we do it as real estate agents, but to be honest prior to Activerain, I told my clients I didn't know these people. Thanks to Activerain I can tell my clients that I've known these agents I'm referring them to for years in some cases and competely trust them.

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

Todd, in any business you only have 3 things to work with... knowledge, honesty, and integrity. Going after an unethical fast buck wipes out the last 2 of them, and makes the 1st questionable. That doesn't leave you with much to work with.

Posted by Roberta LaRocca, REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, NV. Lic BS.507 (Simply Vegas Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Roberta - No it doesn't!

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

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