RealPodVA – Simpsons, Voting, Getting Fired

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Jim Duncan: I’m Jim Duncan, Nest Realty, RealCentralVA, RealCrozetVA. Sitting here with Bart and we’re missing Dave.

Bart: Yeah.

Bart: I’m Bart from Scrimmage Play. We don’t have Dave Stipe from Rockfish today, he’s very busy. But we’re going to get into some serious issues because Dave’s not here. That opens up that possibility. So, when you’re thinking through ethics, when it comes to real estate. Talk to me just about that as an issue in general.

Jim Duncan: Well, first, ethics is, for me personally, it’s less ethics as ingrained by the code of ethics by the realtors and more just how I was raised. Which is awesome because I have an addled old brain and it’s easier to be honest at all things. But there is a very long code of ethics that the realtors subscribe to and it’s really … again, practically, I don’t have a choice as to whether I’m gonna subscribe to them. It’s, ‘Do I wanna be a realtor and have access to the MLS?’ Oh, okay, then I need to be ethical. Right?

Jim Duncan: But it’s something that, I was in a meeting years ago, 8 years ago, 10 years ago, at the state and we were talking about how to make realtors better and better professional with stuff. And they said, “We need like the code of ethics. Stronger”. Great! Sitting in this room with like fifteen people, all high level around the state. Great. How many of y’all have filed a code of ethics violation against another agent? None of them.

Bart: None!

Jim Duncan: Because it just doesn’t, as a practicing realtor it does not necessarily benefit my clients if the other agents are ethical. Meaning that, if I file a complaint against Dave, and then he gets like a fifty dollar fine or whatever. When I take an offer to Dave three years later and it’s one of two or three offers, my clients are going to be harmed.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: Which you know it doesn’t really benefit me to have that on my record, if you will, reputational. So it’s something that when there are a couple agents that I don’t … The code of ethics says I can’t say anything bad about other agents unless it’s true. I generally again subscribe to if momma, you know, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

Bart: It’s the Bambi rule

Jim Duncan: Yeah

Bart: Yeah

Jim Duncan: But it’s something that there are agents that I will prepare my clients for of nothing explicit that this person did this, but this may be a bumpier ride than we might otherwise have.

Bart: What’s an example of unethical behavior? Fine, everyone can argue with like … Something that is objectively unethical in real estate

Jim Duncan: Well I think it’s something that … again you look at the code and the guidelines and one is procuring calls and one is saying something not nice about another agent on social media. You know, you can’t. There are explicit rules. I think that for me, I think that it’s somebody who doesn’t necessarily present the offer I submit to their client. You know, that’s unethical. There’s no way to necessarily prove that. If there are five offers submitted and one of the eight and mine is the worst offer of the bunch, I would like to have assurance that that offer is presented. I don’t necessarily have that. In some markets they present the offers in person which would allow for knowing formulaically that it’s been done. But it’s … ethics are tough. It’s something that I don’t think that you can become ethical because the words say you have to be ethical.

Bart: Right

Jim Duncan: It has to be ingrained from your brokerage, from your own personal integrity. It has to be practiced. I tell my clients that … well, so years ago. Many years ago. Remember this is a client of mine, we were different market, crazy hot, they wanted to make an offer on a house that was, he didn’t know, he thought he was going to get the job but he wasn’t one hundred percent sure.

Bart: Sure.

Jim Duncan: And I said, “Great! we can’t make an offer”. We can’t make an offer until you have a job. He said, “well, can we make the offer contingent on me getting a job?”. No, because it’s not going to be accepted. Okay. “Can we make the offer and not tell them that it is contingent on my getting a job?” And I looked at this guy and I’m like, “No”. And I said point blank, “There’s a much better likelihood of me working with this other agent that I am with you”.

Bart: Yeah.

Jim Duncan: And he looked at me just dumb founded. I said, “look it’s a small town.”. One: it’s a small own. Two: I’ve got integrity that I’m not going to jeopardize. Three: realistically in four years that agent’s going to remember if I screwed him over on a transaction. And the guy was really, He was surprised. And I ended up representing them on the purchase of their house and then many years later I represented them again on the sale.

Jim Duncan: So I think that’s … you know ethics are hard and there’s no way to, there’s no online way to say, “oh that person’s ethical” because you don’t see necessarily. Well you were talking about sharing. Like on your Facebook posts.

Bart: Yeah, so now there are certain ways that you can set the privacy settings that you can share something publicly. You can share something to your friends but you can’t see it. And I’m sure that’s been going on for a long time but like it’s more obvious now in the counts and stuff and I have to go through three different steps if I want to get a glimpse of what’s going on there. And maybe it … I wouldn’t call it subterfuge but it takes some effort. And my big thing, you know I think it goes for any business, and especially when you look at guys that are running a restaurant or a brewery or something like that. Feedback and things that get said about you online have a huge role in how people perceive your company or how they perceive your product. That’s why people pay for fake Amazon reviews all the time. I mean, it matters. People trust the mob now and I think that …

Bart: I always have seen those situations where you get something that’s said negatively about you. I’ve generally seen, I mean sure I’m not above getting my feelings hurt, but I’ve generally seen those as an opportunity to make things right or an opportunity to change someone’s mind. I mean you get an email that is like blistering. I’ve gotten emails that are blistering from people and they’ve turned, I’ve been able to turn people around and they’ve become some of our biggest supporters.

Jim Duncan: Right.

Bart: Like some things I’m sure is true for any business, but real estate to me where everything is based on your reputation, just solely your reputation and trust I imagine that’s particulate difficult.

Jim Duncan: Well it’s hard and so two things: One: years ago I lost an opportunity with a client because of a bad review on a site that was password protected. And he said, It was on Angie’s List.

Bart: Uh huh.

Jim Duncan: And it was a bad review. And I looked at it and then finally after he told me, cause he was like, he said, “I read this review you hadn’t responded” and that’s why I lost an opportunity. So I looked at it and I was like, well this is. She’s wrong. My client just had a completely poor [inaudible 00:08:14] what went down.

Bart: Uh huh.

Jim Duncan: And so I wrote a sixteen paragraph response to it. You know I understand that you’re upset, however, this is what actually happened. You know, for me, Angie’s List is dead. I don’t know if I’ve talked about it before, I know I’ve written about it, that the real estate world is broken from an ethics perspective and review. So there’s no way I can go and say I’m moving to San Diego to find the most ethical realtor. There’s no rating online.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: One: agents from my land don’t report unethical realtors. So there’s a break down, and Two: you look at the reviews online and most of the Zillow reviews are positive.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: So almost everything is a five star review.

Bart: Well nobody’s asks a client that’s having a negative experience, “hey get out there and give me one of those fine reviews”.

Jim Duncan: So we talked about a couple of weeks ago I started to go through me getting fired.

Bart: Yeah.

Jim Duncan: My best Zillow review is a one that is, I think that it’s three stars or two stars. I had clients who were very upset, and I screwed up. It’s my best review because one: I think it adds real legitimacy to the rest of the five star reviews. And I’ve got however many I have, all but this one are five stars. But having the one that’s a negative review, I think it adds credibility to it.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: But they fired me because we made an offer on a house that was … well they wanted to make an offer on the house and I was more concerned with resale on how I perceived they would be paying too much.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: And I was like, “guys, in seven years you’re going to be under water tomorrow, but in seven years when you come to me we’re not gonna be able to sell”. And I was so narrowly focused on resale that they lost the house.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: And in hindsight, One: I still think it was the right advice. Two: I should have listened to them and let them buy the house because it’s not my life.

Bart: Yeah.

Jim Duncan: But it’s a great review because one: it adds credibility. Two: I learned from it.

Bart: Yeah.

Jim Duncan: You know, you don’t learn from things, “Bart you did so great the podcast was awesome!” You learn from …

Bart: I learn a lot from those situations! I learn how to create I am. That’s important. You know, you’ve got to know, self esteem it really does too. It’s tough to get up in the mornings, you know? It gives you that extra boost. You gotta take the … you know. Yeah I agree with what you’re saying. I think that in general you’re not going to maybe learn something from that. Like the positive reviews are nice but you do want … you can’t learn nearly as much as you can from a negative [inaudible 00:11:04] and to me that’s the ultimate sports lesson, that you can learn more from a loss than a win. I think that that matters and I think that too often we are concerned with trying not to lose as adults that you know we become obsessed with sort of protecting that and not losing when sometimes a loss is a loss and it’s okay and you can learn from it and pick something up from it, you know? But when that loss is tied to an unethical action from another person it becomes …

Bart: I struggle with that. I’m sure that I have done things. I’m sure there are people out there that have said, “oh I did not enjoy dealing with that guy.” I mean it’s probably, it’s super fair. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve done those things. But generally speaking, I’ve tried to approach things like you’re talking about. That you’re trying to do right by people, that you’re trying to help them make the best decision, or you’re trying to help them with whatever. You don’t really want to … because in the end it’s all sales. You’re selling.

Jim Duncan: Well it is but your dependent … One of our agents said years ago, we were talking about similar conversation and she said … and she’s really good and the agents at Nest are good. And I think that it’s something that I feel comfortable about that from within our firm and across our market we have ethical good real realtors. Just flat out. I would be comfortable hiring any of the agents that we have in Charlottesville for my own representation. But this agent said that she was going through a horrific transaction. And she said, “my clients are great. I’m pretty good at what I do. We are solely dependent on the quality of the other agent.” and it’s something that when I see a name of another agent I can tell my clients, “oh yeah. This is going to be great. I have no issues at all. We will be able to do things verbally. This will be fine.”

Jim Duncan: And there are a couple of agents where I’m like, ehh. You’re not going to find this online because one: there’s nowhere to really do it. And two: the clients aren’t qualified to know whether they’re good or bad.

Bart: Yeah because clients don’t unless they’re like major brokers and they don’t do enough with people that buy a bunch of different stuff. They don’t participate. I have participated in one real estate transaction my entire life. That’s it.

Jim Duncan: And so you do whatever you want. Most of them every seven to fifteen years they do one transaction.

Bart: Right.

Jim Duncan: So it’s all based on that transaction twelve years ago. Everything’s changed in twelve years, but it’s something that from an ethical perspective it’s hard for the consumer to know without asking a good agent.

Bart: Yeah.

Jim Duncan: Is this person that I’m hiring good? I think there’s a market for that. I’m hiring this person. Are they any good? They’re terrible. Go away. Give me some money. Or they’re great. Feel good about your hiring decision.

Bart: You should [inaudible 00:14:06] being a human Yelp for real estate agents.

Jim Duncan: Human off the record Yelp.

Bart: Off the record Yelp?

Bart: [crosstalk 00:14:15]

Bart: This doesn’t sound like a business idea anymore. This sounds like subterfuge man. This sounds like …

Jim Duncan: Useful subterfuge

Bart: Yeah it sounds like, I feel like that’s not going to work out well for you. I think that this is going to be … If I show up and I go online and I’m looking for information on ethical realtors and I look and it’s “Dim Juncan” and I look at that I feel like people are going to trace it back to you man.

Jim Duncan: It’s an opportunity for them to find me and leverage against me.

Bart: Yeah I think it could be trouble for you. You’re going to have to pick a side. And then you’re not going to be in the game anymore and then your information is no good.

Jim Duncan: It’s like you go to conferences and you say, “oh this guy is the rain maker. He’s awesome. He’s the best things I’ve ever seen”. Great. When’s the last time he ever did anything? Oh. Fifteen years ago. So he doesn’t actually practice.

Bart: Hey everybody. I wanted to take a quick break to talk about Rockfish. I’m sure you’re all aware that the music industry has changed pretty dramatically over the last decade. Artists are able to create more music than ever before. We know because we’re out here making those record with them. We’re working with talented up and coming artists that big labels ignore. Our mission is to make great records and create a closer connection between artists, their fans, old and new, and the recording company.

Bart: It’s really pretty simple. For a subscription starting at three dollars per month you get access to our entire archive of music. And inside you not only get the records we are producing, but all kinds of rough tracks, alternate takes, and bonus material. You’re going to access all the stages of the recording process. So go check us out at and subscribe. If you’re a music fan, this is an amazing way to access new music and directly support independent artists.

Jim Duncan: The other things I wanted to say. Two quick things. One: Nest, we are celebrating our tenth thousandth closing.

Bart: Wow cool.

Jim Duncan: I’ll put a link to the video that our team did. And it’s pretty cool. When we started the firm ten years ago it was just one of us then three of us then six of us. And now we’ve got eleven offices and ten thousand closings.

Bart: Wow.

Jim Duncan: Which is something we are exceptionally proud about. So yeah. It’s a cool video. You can’t see it obviously. I’ll put a link up.

Bart: This is an audio medium.

Jim Duncan: Yeah you know.

Bart: Let’s watch the video now and you describe it.

Jim Duncan: You can do play by play

Bart: We’re going to mystery science theater three thousand this sweet video.

Jim Duncan: So we’re proud about that as we continue to grow the firm. The other thing is it’s mid August right now, end of August, for people who are looking to buy or sell in the Spring, they need to start that conversation now.

Bart: What has to go into that conversation?

Jim Duncan: Simple things. If you’re a seller, get an idea of what the price should be, the projects you need to get done over the winter if you can get a contractor to call you back. Take Fall pictures now, or when the leaves change so that when you put it on in March it’s not deescalate. It’s colorful and beautiful and green, and just get an understanding of what that timing is going to be for that. And for buyers, start that neighborhood research. Start driving through West Hall and Old Trail and Meaddowbrook Heights and any neighborhood you’re concerned about and you think you might be interested in. Start driving through at all hours of the day so you learn the neighborhood. So you’re looking at more than just the house, you’re looking at those surroundings. And for self interest, buyers need to start talking to agents now to figure out what they should be doing and get direction. That’s it.

Bart: Awesome! So get to work! Everyone.[crosstalk 00:17:59]

Jim Duncan: Well thanks Bart!

Bart: End Record. Do you need these voice commands Dave?

Jim Duncan: ‘Cause they’re kind of fun!

Bart: We should do these more often.

Jim Duncan: If you want there’s another voice cue in like five minutes that you really need to listen to.

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