Local Realtor makes – good?

Via the Inman blog:

Two recent disputes over domain names involve the same Virginia real estate broker, Patsy Strong (pictured). Strong first raised the ire of her former employer, Monticello Country Realtors Inc, when she refused to relinquish ownership of the domain name monticellocountryrealtors.com, which she had registered when she worked for the company. Strong then riled a competitor, Elizabeth “Betsy” Gunnels, by registering the domain names betsysellsfluvanna.com and betsysellsmonticello.com, which Gunnels said she was using on business cards and advertisements.

I remember a property I was selling several years ago in Madison. The property would have had magnificent mountain views if only for the trees that were growing along the border of the property – on the neighbor’s land. One day I had occasion to meet the neighbor and we started talking about the trees. Turns out he didn’t like my clients (lucky he didn’t know me enough to like or dislike me). He had planted the trees about thirty years prior – just to be ornery. What he did wasn’t illegal, but it just wasn’t nice. But boy did I respect his dedication.

The more I think about it, this story probably falls under the “not all publicity is good publicity” heading.

Update: read this comment at Inman.

What do you think?

Update 11/18/2006: Sellsisus° points out this pertinent rule change in NAR’s Code of Ethics 2007:

(3) Deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers.”

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  1. John Pruett October 27, 2006 at 09:09

    You know its quite interesting that no place in your article (about ethics) did you mention that although these accusations were raised by Ms. Strong’s competitors, they were carefully examined by governing bodies and found to be groundless in both cases.
    Frankly, I would question the ethics of taking a few sentences out of context to imply wrong-doing of a competitor who in fact has been to arbitration and been found completely innocent. I think this might fall under “the way a story is written can make any one appear guity of anything” category.

  2. Jim Duncan October 27, 2006 at 11:15

    John –

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    Simply put, I don’t think that what she did was right. I think it’s uncalled for, adversarial for no good reason and just not nice.

    Regarding the snippet – please notice that I linked to the full article, so that any reader can simply click through (just checked, it still works) to read the whole thing.

    Personally, I hold myself and my business to a higher standard than any ethics or arbitration board. It’s something called honor.

    Is what she did “legal”? Sure. Did she win both arbitration and ethics rounds? Yup. Does that make it “right” in my book? Nope. But hey, business can be cutthroat. So be it. Live, learn and move on. But, that’s just my opinion, not that it matters much.

  3. Patsy Strong October 27, 2006 at 12:01


    I have tried to stay out of this blog discussion, however when you question my ethics or business standards, I intend to immediately respond. Perhaps, in the future when you decide to question someone’s ethics or business practices you might take the time to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the issue. You are completely correct in saying that this is a “cutthroat” business, and competitors will take every opportunity to affect their competition – a ploy I have been the victim of rather than the aggressor. As the Top Producing Realtor in my market,I find myself defending these ridiculous claims over and over again. I have found that the competition loves to use forums outside of the business of Listing and Selling Real Estate to try and take out their competitors. I think that I am a perfect example that ethics and high business standards prevail.

  4. Jim Duncan October 27, 2006 at 12:14

    Patsy –

    Thanks for commenting. I did not intend to question your ethics, nor did I. I said I didn’t think it was right or nice, but that’s one opinion.

    Nor do I know more about this situation than what has been published on Inman and in the two arbitration decisions.

    That competition feels the need to “take out competitors” inside or outside of normal competition is a sad commentary on our shared profession and I respect what you have done to earn your position at the top of the market.

    I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  5. MB October 27, 2006 at 17:04

    I read both “decisions”. This is indeed a sad situation. I applaud you Jim for bringing this into this forum. You clearly are exposing yourself to unnecessary headaches given that you’re a Realtor, and both the Complainant(s) and the Respondent are Realtors, the latter by her own admission the cream of the crop so to speak. You don’t need to bring this heat on yourself, but I know I’m a more informed consumer as a result. So again, thanks.