Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: Don’t Talk Stink About Real Estate Professionals

Don’t Talk Stink About Real Estate Professionals

Our Code of Ethics had a few changes for 2012.  In the past it was a violation of the Code of Ethics for a Realtor to make false or misleading statements against a competitor.  The word competitor was changed to real estate professional in the Code of Ethics.

Here are a couple of questions that come to mind. 

1)      Who are considered real estate professionals?

2)      Shouldn’t we use that standard for everyone?

The first question is a good one.  Are the real estate professionals only those with a license?  Home inspectors in Hawaii for examples do not have licenses.  Are they real estate professionals?  The tongue in cheek question would be are those who are acting unprofessional included?

The bigger question is shouldn’t we use that standard for everyone?  Making a false or misleading statement about anyone is wrong whether our Code of Ethics says so or not.  In Hawaii we have a phrase, “No Talk Stink.”

The other day, I caught myself blurting out a negative comment about a lender, when I heard someone mention their name.  I recently had two extremely bad transactions with that lender and a few others in the past.  I kind of snapped when I heard their name.  Not a good thing, it was not one of my prouder moments.  What I said was not a violation of the Code, because nothing that came out of my mouth was false or misleading.  I regretted saying it and apologized.  I was not as we say in Hawaii “pono.”

Even though our Code of Ethics only speaks to how we talk about other real estate professionals, I believe we should never say anything false or misleading about anyone.  Do you think politicians and their campaigns should also be held to that standard?

My final thought is that the Code of Ethics is a set of minimum standards.  A professional never strives for the minimum.




Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

eXp Realty

Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"

Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers.  His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area.  His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.

Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors.  To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations

Comment balloon 45 commentsRandy Prothero • April 15 2012 01:32AM


Taking the high road is always the best way to go. Recently I really wanted to lay into someone, after writing a couple of emails that were never sent, I composed one that carried a professional message but made the statement I wanted to make...

Posted by Scott Fogleman, New Home Team (New Home Team 804-573-9592) almost 7 years ago

Scott - I do the same thing.  I write the message and then wait until the next morning to rewrite and send it when I am not angry.  I also go out of my way to keep it business and try to remove all emotions.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

Randy, great advice.  Just remember that the code asks us not to say anything false and misleading.  If some one is in fact a bad person, we have no restriction on saying that.  Just be prepared to prove it.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 7 years ago

As my parents used to say: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"

Posted by Mark Brian, Anderson SC Realtor (Silver Star Real Estate LLC) almost 7 years ago

if you want to talk about changes in the code of ethics...


note that a few years ago that also the word "FAIR" was removed.


Eve in Orlando

Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 7 years ago

Randy ~ Nice post. I have been guilty of thinking bad thoughts about certain "Professionals" in our community. I stay away from naming individuals and specific entities. Those thoughts are still there and I know which businesses to avoid and when a Client asks, I will make suggestions. It's up to them on whom to choose.

Posted by Jon Eliason (EXIT Realty Advantage Pagosa, Pagosa Springs, Colorado) almost 7 years ago

Talking stink about someone else doesn't bring them down, it brings yourself down. Good post!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) almost 7 years ago

Pick and choose your words wisely. We all know those "professional" who don't always act in ways we agree with. I don't always agree with "not saying anything" but just use better words.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) almost 7 years ago

I think false and misleading statements are not good in any scenario.                                                      

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) almost 7 years ago

Randy, maybe in the 2013 COE, NAR needs to define the term real estate professional. Bad mouthing others in our industry only reflects badly on one's self.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 7 years ago

It is best to take the high road. If you have a stink, the report to your broker. Let your broker be your voice of reason. That is his/her job.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) almost 7 years ago

If asked about a person , place or thing, I may or may not have something to say..Meanwhile, I got much to do

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Badmouthing may be inadvisable, but steering clear is a way to avoid doing business with those we do not feel are acting appropriately in our industry.

Posted by Richard and Jean Murphy, (207) 712-4796 (Harborview Properties) almost 7 years ago

Randy -- Just plain good advice not only for professional use but also personal.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

Clients look to us for advice. If I've had a bad experience with a lender, I gently prod them in a different direction. They ultimately make the decision but it is my job to represent my client. I don't speak poorly of other agents, lenders or inspectors. However, if they have messed up in some way, you can bet I'll caution others.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 7 years ago

This post was picked up by Zite. When I checked Zite on my iPad this morning, the top story on Top Stories was this blog post. I recognized Randy's photo as soon as I opened Zite.  Congrats on the exposure, Randy, and a great post to spread.

Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) almost 7 years ago

You can not instill ethics in anyone just because someone wrote a "code" into membership of an organization. First off, membership in the organization is forced upon anyone seeking to sell real estate within the community they live because that's the way the "local" multiple listing service" has it structured.

Being a member of the REALTOR organization doesn't mean you have ethics. It just means you pay your required dues to your brokers' trade organization.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) almost 7 years ago

Hi Randy,

Reminds me of the quote:

Be careful of the words you say, just keep them soft and sweet.
You never know from day to day, which ones you'll have to eat.


Posted by Phil Leng, Phil Leng - Retired (Retired) almost 7 years ago

But we also need to remember that truth is truth. I have no problem directing a client away from a lender, inspector, title rep, whomever....if it's based on facts and actual concrete experiences. Basing it on personality? not ok... Lying? not ok..... But truth is something I'm always going to give. 

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) almost 7 years ago

If someone is bad...they are bad...if they do a bad job and we do not make light of that fact, are we then endorsing the bad person by our silence? Is speaking the truth the same as badmouthing? I don't think so.

I do agree with Greg #18 on all of his comments.

I would disagree with Lenn on her Politician comments.  My son is currently an intern for Senator Johanns in Nebraska until the end of May, 2012.  My son will be spending an additional 6 months beginning next January in DC working for the Senator.

What a wonderful man Senator Johanns is. I have known him for a number of years and would trust what comes out of his mouth as being an honest comment WAY MORE than over 98% of the Realtors, and real estate agents, I know throughout our industry.

Had the word "most" been included in the politician comment, I would have agreed but to lump this man with the others is wrong.

Every industry and line of work has the good, bad, and ugly amongst it.

Especially real estate.

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) almost 7 years ago

YOU"RE so right, I'm disgusted with all the disparagement allowed! I'm confident there will be better protection for us the "REALTOR". Today some agents & websites are truly UN-ETHICAL. Hopefully it's changing soon. 

GREAT BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) almost 7 years ago

If you have had bad experiences with someone, don't you owe it to a client to let them know that?

Posted by Leslie Prest, Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson, (Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ) almost 7 years ago

There is a broker in the area in which I work. I can't find anything positive to say about him, even though many potential clients are already aware of his reputation.I can't mention his nickname, or he would be immediately identifiable.

If someone asks me a direct question about him, I state "I can't ethically tell you what I really think."

Posted by John Mosier, Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142 (Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert) almost 7 years ago

Aloha Randy, I agree we don't advance ourselves at others' expense; but there sure are some "bozo's" out there in our industry that make my tongue bleed from biting it. But I guess that's better than "foot".

Posted by Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D, & Host of Postcards From Success Podcast (Big Block Realty 858.232.8722) almost 7 years ago

There are a couple real estate agents/brokers here in Punta Cana, who are experts in the difamation of their peers in order to get a client. One is new and does not even speak spanish, so I guess that's how she tries to get ahead. 

Although there is no laws in the Dominican Republic that regulates the Real Estate practice, I wonder how the NAR acts upon US based agents who advertise their credentials overseas and violate the code of ethics.



Posted by Jocelyn Ucedo, Punta Cana Golf & Beach Resort Properties (Punta Cana Lifestyle Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

At the same time, shouldn't you be able to advise a buyer that perhaps choosing another lender might be the best course of action?

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) almost 7 years ago

Bad mouthing people just puts youo into the same non-professional class as the person you are talking about

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) almost 7 years ago

Very good point, It doesn't to much good to berate someone, just acknowledge that this wasn't a good fit and move on. 

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) almost 7 years ago

Randy, its easier said then done, but you are very right. Often what comes out of our mouth stems from what is in our heart. Maybe if we try just a bit harder to think well of people first before speaking then there'd be less negative talk.  If we actually told ourselves every morning that we will speak only kind words, we might have better results.

No matter what, if we talk bad about others it gets around, and honestly, nobody appreciates it. 


Posted by Cathy Criado, Making Real Estate Profitable (Criado Realty ) almost 7 years ago

You are so right - as professionals we need to be professoinal and speaking poorly about someone is NOT professional.

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) almost 7 years ago

Gabe – This can be important when giving referrals.

Lenn – Possibly more people would get involved with politics if they were held to similar standards.

Mark – We could get our mouth washed out with soap.

Eve – The word fair should be removed from most things.  Who decides what is fair?

Jon – When I write articles like this I never use names, just situations and behaviors.

Wayne and Jean – I agree.

The Christian Team – You are right.

Michael – There are so many people who touch our transactions.  If I were asked, I may not know for sure about a few of them.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

Harry – Always a good idea to get the brokers involved.

Richie – Sometimes it is best to say nothing.

Richard and Jean – Steering clear is something we all have to do.  If you have been in the business awhile, you know a few folks to avoid if possible.

Tammie – I have a list of venders I and my previous clients have had good experience with.  If they mess up one of my clients they are immediately removed from the list.

Sharon – Thank you!  I haven’t been writing as much lately.  This was my 101st post to get featured since joining Active Rain.

Phil – I try to avoid that, but am not afraid to apologize if I mess up.

Karen – The truth will set you free.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

Mike M – I am sure that many have spoken or writing false and misleading statement against your Senator.  The issue with politics is not just the politicians, but the campaigns and other groups who attack them.

Jon – I have to say I have been shocked by some of the blogs and comments I have read over the years.  Over time some of them will be caught and corrected.  Others will join and repeat the behavior.

Leslie – Keep it factual and only if it applies to the situation.

John M. – Sometimes not answering says a lot.

Thomas – I like that about the tongue rather than the foot.  I may use that line.

Joceyln – I am not sure how it impacts their behavior in other countries.  I would think you could still file a complaint.  I just don’t know where it would go.

Erica – I do recommend local funding lenders to my clients, based on past experience.  My clients can always go with whomever they wish, but most take the advice.  Being in Hawaii, we do run into issues with out of state lenders not knowing our market, contracts, laws or customs.  We also run into problems with the time zone differences and no loan officer on the ground here.  In one case I had a loan officer tell me Hawaii wasn’t a state and the delays were normal for foreign loans.

William F. – Absolutely!

Adrian – I have even done similar with a bad potential client.  I said I was not the right agent for them and left it at that.

Cathy – I try, but we are all human.  I caught myself last week and was sorry it happened.  I did not say anything false, but it was still not the way I want to conduct myself.

Joy – It dies change how others think of us.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

It takes many professionals, such as yourself, to raise the bar and raise all of us to a higher standard.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) almost 7 years ago

The rule needed to have more teeth. I have never seen so much mud slung against colleagues in any other industry as our own. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) almost 7 years ago

Randy - I agree with the statement above that the truth is the truth though I do believe that we shouldn't bad mouth people.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 7 years ago

Regardless of whether it is true or not, the one saying ugly things only makes themselves look bad.

Posted by Joni Bailey, Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR® (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties) almost 7 years ago

"Do you think politicians and their campaigns should also be held to that standard?"


There is a huge difference between politicians and real estate professionals.


We use our knowledge, skill and experience to serve the real estate services consumer.

MOST Politicians use doublespeak, subtrafuge and outright untruths to serve themselves.

[reposted to permit editing of comment]

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

I definitely agree with Greg #18 and I also believe the code has the reverse effect of what was intended like many of the laws of this nation, they protect the guilty from the innocent. I remember years ago one broker so enraged me that I purposely did things that caused him to sue me which is what I wanted, because of the lawsuit I was able to subpoena his records which resulted in him losing his lawsuit, and me winning my counter-suit,  plus him losing his real estate  license. 

He was able to continue his plundering for years in large part to ethics violation claims he made with the board to chase other agents away, and he had a letter from a lawyer threatening a costly lawsuit to quiet them up. I called his bluff against one of my agents and he lost everything just as he should have.

Posted by Brian Park almost 7 years ago

Couldn't agree more. You don't need to be a real estate agent or Realtor to know that it's wrong to make false or misleading comments about someone.

Posted by Mike Woods (M.S.WOODS REAL ESTATE, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Leslie – Thank you

Philip – Follow politics.

Christine – Not good to bad mouth, but sometimes we need to protect people from bad folks.

Joni – That is a fact.

Lenn – I think politicians should be held to higher standards.  They are writing laws.

Brian – Sometimes it takes being willing to stand up for what is right.

Mike – It should be true for everyone.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

Randy, This is a good statement:

...My final thought is that the Code of Ethics is a set of minimum standards. A professional never strives for the minimum.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) almost 7 years ago

Margaret - You are so right.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) almost 7 years ago

I love this article on Zite, shared by Sharon..

Zite features Randy Prothero

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 6 years ago

Aloha Margaret, thank you for alerting me to Sharon's article.  I somehow missed it.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 6 years ago

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