Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

J Philip Faranda June 21, 2010

This past weekend, to my surprise, a brief rant of mine entitled Treat My Yard Sign Like Your Own was featured on the dashboard and got quite a few comments. Most agreed with my premise that the agent who removed my sign from my old listing without telling me where it was taken should have called me. A few people responded that if I wasn’t there to remove my sign immediately that I was wrong. 

That could be true, but without an unneeded rehashing of the details, let’s suppose I was indeed wrong. When did it become OK to do the wrong thing just because the other guy was wrong? We don’t really get a “free one” or a “get out of jail free” card when we are responding to something that was wrong, do we? 

I am on the other side of this 99% of the time. I won’t tell you how many hundreds of expired listings I have procured since 2005 but it is quite a few. I’ve listed the expired listings of newbies who quit the industry 1 month into their contract all the way to those of superagents who sell tens of millions, year in, year out. The story is always the same: if you don’t sell the listing you are a bum. If you get it sold you are a great guy. 

In every case, I have taken the old sign and placed it respectfully in an out of the way place. Sometimes, the sellers would point to an uncollected sign as proof that the last agent didn’t care or wasn’t on the job. They never asked me to do anything with the sign. Ever. Not my responsibility, and if they did I’d tell them it wasn’t my property. I recall in one case I returned a lockbox and heard an earful from the other agent. I’ve even had instances where a lockbox remained on my front door knob for 2 weeks and I was forced to put mine in a railing. We can’t remove electronic ones, so all I do is call the other broker and ask for their cooperation. They comply. I would do the same for a sign. 

I am there as much as anyone, folks. I have plenty of chances to be punitive or judgmental. Retribution is not worth it. We are in this business to build bridges, not burn them. There are bigger battles to fight, and giving a prior agent a hard time, with as many opportunities as I have, is not something I choose to do. If the other agent is wrong, you take the high road, don’t get down in the mud with them. 

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