What should I do if another agent is spreading misinformation about me?

QUESTION: Several months ago, my buyer-client briefly went under contract to buy a home. The buyer terminated the contract after a few days, and she instructed me to return their Due Diligence Fee check to her. The listing agent was furious, and he accused me of sitting on the check and not delivering it in order to keep his client from getting the money. I explained that I only had the check for a few hours and had no choice but to return the check under the License Law, but the listing agent wouldn’t back off. Fast forward to this week, and I just learned that the listing agent is accusing me on social media of being dishonest, and also saying that listing agents should think carefully before advising their sellers to accept an offer from one of my clients. What can I do about this? How do I keep this from spreading further and hurting my reputation?

ANSWER: Article 15 of the Code of Ethics says that “REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.” Based on your facts, you certainly have an argument to make that the listing agent is violating the Code. One option would be to file an ethics complaint with your local board, which would go through the Grievance Committee, Professional Standards Committee, and the Board of Directors.

Another option would be to request an ombudsman to act as an impartial mediary between you and the listing agent. An ombudsman’s goal is to resolve the conflict without formal action. You can read about NCR’s ombudsman program here and fill out an online request for an ombudsman here. Your local board may also have an ombudsman program available.

Article 15 also includes a duty to clarify or retract any false or misleading statements made on electronic media that an agent controls. See Standard of Practice 15-3. Standard of Practice 15-2 prohibits REALTORS® from republishing false or misleading statements. Together these Standards of Practice should help to ensure that any false or misleading statements about you do not continue to circulate. However, if you continue to have problems, you may want to consult with a lawyer to be advised on your remedies should you take civil action.

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Filed Under: Code of Ethics,