Today, our brokerage received this letter from the Arizona Department of Real Estate:
I have obviously blocked out indentifying information.
Here’s what is really quite special about this letter. I am not the listing broker for the property mentioned in the letter. Hence it would be impossible for me to publish the lockbox code or “fail to protect the interests” of a client that is, well, not my client.
The Department of Real Estate, in their infinite wisdom, decided that since the printout of the listing that was attached to a complaint came off this very blog you are reading, yours truly was to blame for the lockbox code being published to the world. As far as I know, none of the other tens of hundreds of local agent and national listing sites displaying exactly the same information received an accusatory letter.
Here is the text of the complaint, reprinted here with the permission of the complainant. Again, personally identifying information of the complainant, the actual listing brokerage, and the property have been changed.
Dear Madam or Sir:
This is a complaint that comes from the file of there is no bottom on stupid. Please refer to the attached listing printed on August 2, 2009. The listing agency “JOE’S REAL ESTATE AND GRILL” listed a property at 123 Main St. On the listing, the agency listed the lockbox combination code in a public area. I am not a real estate agent and I have no interest in the property, but this should be grounds for the listing agent to lose his/her license. To make maters worse, on Friday, the agent updated the listing to reflect that an offer was accepted and noted, “key is missing for entrance.” You think ?!?!?!
By listing the lockbox combination, this agent told the whole world that the front door was open to this property. Apparently, someone decided to keep the key, and that does not surprise me. What surprises me is that this agent is allowed out in public without an escort. The amusing thing for me is that the agent updated the listing and did not see anything wrong with publishing the code.
If he/she has a license with your Department, I would suggest the status of that license be re-evaluated.
Personally, I couldn’t agree more with the complainant I’ll call “Concerned Citizen”. And good for him for taking the time and making the effort to bring this travesty to the attention of the Department of Real Estate. It wasn’t too long ago that I opined about agents giving lockbox codes out over the phone. At least in those cases the whole freaking planet doesn’t literally have access to the front door key.
What’s going to happen to the actual listing agent and broker who really did fail to protect the interests of their client?
I don’t know. These things aren’t publicly disclosed. Obviously the brokerage, who is ultimately responsible, failed to exercise proper “broker supervision”. My guess is they might get a little slap on the wrist, possibly a modest fine. More likely the broker will fall on his/her sword, propose some “check and balance” to ensure this will never happen again, and they’ll all go on their merry way selling real estate.
What will happen to me? I got to spend time composing a “statement” for something that if the Department has just paused two seconds to engage their brains would have never been issued. Welcome to bureaucracy and the joys of running a real estate brokerage. Surely, hopefully, the Department of Real Estate will see how utterly asinine it was to accuse me of something I have zero control over.
For those interested, here is my “statement” regarding this ridiculous accusation:
This is my statement regarding the above named complaint, #c09-xxxxxx filed by “Concerned Citizen”.
In your letter to me you state, “ADRE is in receipt of a complaint filed against you by Concerned Citizen alleging you published the lockbox code on the MLS for the property located at 123 Main St in Phoenix and; therefore, failed to protect the interests of your client” (my emphasis in bold).
Actually, Concerned Citizen filed the complaint against the listing agency, Joe’s Real Estate and Grill, as is clearly stated in all capital letters in the third sentence of his complaint dated August 2, 2009 (see attached).
The listing at 123 Main St is not a Thompson’s Realty listing. Concerned Citizen simply printed out the listing from my web site, www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com. That site complies with all IDX rules and regulations and clearly displays the listing agency, which Concerned Citizen also circled for emphasis at the bottom of the printout he attached to his original complaint.
I did not publish the lockbox code, as I have no access to edit the public remarks field in the listing of another brokerage. I did not “fail to protect the interests of my client” because the owners of the home at 123 Main St. are not my clients. They are the clients of Joe’s RE & G and the listing agent, Ima Fool.
I cannot possibly control what every licensed agent enters into the MLS, nor can I possibly verify that all of the current 59,010 listings in ARMLS are accurate. Yes, my website, along with thousands of other websites that employ an IDX search solution, displays listing information, including whatever the listing agent enters into the public remarks.
We have to trust our fellow agents to be professional and to exercise fundamentally sound judgment. In this case, clearly Mr. Fool (or whoever entered the listing into the MLS) did not exercise any judgment or even common sense for that matter.
I have spoken with the complainant, Mr. Concerned Citizen, and he is more than willing to issue a clarification if necessary as he is perfectly aware that neither I, nor any member of the Thompson’s Realty brokerage, is responsible for the Joe’s Real Estate and Grill agent entering a lockbox code in the public remarks section of their listing. Please let me know if you need a clarification from Mr. Citizen.
I appreciate your prompt response to this matter and hope to hear from you soon regarding the complete dismissal and removal of this matter from any record associated with myself, or the Thompson’s Realty brokerage.
Good grief, what a complete waste of time that was.
Home Sellers: I’ve said it here dozens of times. The sad fact is, you need to check on everything your agent does. Ask for a printout of your listing. Look at that listing on their web site and a few others. No, you shouldn’t have to ensure your agent is doing their job. That’s their broker’s responsibility. Let’s face it though, not everyone is competent. When your safety is involved, it is prudent to ensure your agent’s brain hasn’t fallen out of their head.