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How to deal with Realtors that throw around the “s” word

Portrait of a debate, photo by M. Holland.

Ridiculous verbal altercations about verifiable laws

Few things are more irritating in real estate than when someone unjustly brings up the dreaded phrase, “if we get sued over this,” people who name drop (I promise I only do this when absolutely and totally necessary), or a person who listens with their answer running. 

There are endless rules, laws, Codes, and Cannons that we as agents and Realtors must follow and abide by. The majority of us follow them, and we do not knowingly go out to break them. Therefore, when negotiating contracts, getting into verbal altercations over issues of law that can be easily be verified is about the most ridiculous thing that can happen during a deal.

The Realtor ego trip

It’s some kind of ego trip that we, as agents, think we are always right, or we think our bosses are always right. Anyone who has spent a few years in real estate, or who has done a significant amount of transactions will usually agree that things should be done a certain way- the right way. Two agents’ version of what is right can vary. 

A law may be interpreted differently, training could have been decades ago versus a few years ago, or a company’s policies can be different, but still within the law. Of course this can lead to substantial tension during negotiations. 

How the “s” word heightens tensions

The tension can certainly be heightened when one agent brings up the possibility of being sued. When the really bad “s” word is talked about, most of us do one of two things- hang up the phone, or start defending ourselves.

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I have had the privilege of working for and with some of the brightest and best in real estate during my career, not to mention taking continuing education classes from them, and the privilege of being the daughter of an instructor and broker as well. These people have forgotten more about real estate than most of us will ever hope to know. 

Insinuations of being sued

When another agent happens to be incorrect, yet is insinuating we may be sued over something, the insinuation is often based on the advice of their own manager or broker who also has been around forever, and is knowledgeable, respected, and so on, because of course, this will also be brought into the discussion.

There are times that I’ve really wanted to say, “do you know what company I am with? Do you know who my bosses are? Do you know who I am? Do you really think any of these people would be giving out bad information to thousands of agents over the years?  Have you taken any of their classes? Have you taken any CE? Like, EVER?”

Attacking as a defense is a bad idea

Usually, none of this ever makes it from brain to mouth, thankfully, as it would just be a reason to be labeled some kind of nutjob (or another more unfavorable term). Going into attack mode as a form of defending oneself, typically, is not a good idea. Trying to explain why one is correct, with facts to back it up, is usually the best approach (assuming the other person is not listening with their answer running). 

Unfortunately, when things get heated, at least one person involved in a disagreement, normally can’t shut up for two seconds to actually comprehend what the other is saying. Someone in the discussion will be running their mouths endlessly about why they are right. And while the other person may have a response, and even stated so, the other party hasn’t heard it, because they are still talking about being sued, and how this, that, and the other thing. 

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Tip: move the conversation to email

Email can be your BFF here. By emailing links to supporting documents, not only do we get the annoying chatterer off the phone, we prove our point, and end the discussion. Case closed, pun intended. And, for the record, I am firm believer that no one who has ever been closer to a courtroom than a Law & Order episode should even think of saying anything to do with being sued over a transaction, especially if they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

Written By

Katie Cosner, occasionally known as Kathleen, or KT, is a Realtor® with Cutler Real Estate and is active in her local Board of Realtors® on the Equal Opportunity & Professional Development Committee. She has been floating around online for a number of years, and is on facebook as well as twitter. While Katie has a few hardcore beliefs, three in the Real Estate World to live and die by are; education, ethics, and the law - insert random quote from “A Few Good Men” here. Katie is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan, which really explains quite a bit of her… quirks.



  1. Roland Estrada

    July 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I agree that continuing education should being vital part of being able to negotiate without getting flustered. I take pride in knowing as much about contracts as I possibly can. If I run into an agent that starts throwing their weight around I say, "Ill get back to you". I then call CAR Legal and run it by an attorney. It's a free service and more California agents should take advantage of it.

    As I have become a more seasoned agent, I am right more often than not on contract issues. But if I'm not sure, the first thing I'll do is back myself up a legal answer.

    • Kathleen Cosner

      July 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      So right, Roland. Without being lawyers, or practicing law, contracts themselves & actually *knowing* RE laws are the waters in which we swim. The price of taking a class, or making that call, can be worth it's weight in gold.

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