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Free Labor for Prudential Broker

by James Yates Jr.

CFN Memphis TN - Real Estate Agents have a very demanding and high-pressure job. They are expected to produce sales and listings despite a good or bad economy. Agencies promote a family type atmosphere, good camaraderie amongst it's agents, and equal opportunity to those that are willing to produce in this business.

During our investigation into local real estate practices, we had the opportunity to speak with several Agents. One previously worked at the Prudential Realtor's office in Germantown TN. We found that the perceived practice of working together at this particular agency, Prudential Realtors in Germantown Tennessee, sometimes meant working together against other Agents in the office. High moral character, integritas behavior and professionalism were NOT always on the menu of choices.

After months of investigations, interviews and research, we found that this Prudential Realtor engaged in what we consider to be unfair practices that showed favoritism to selected agents based on a variety of different criteria. Family members, Agents related and or connected to developers and home builders, as well as Agents that were simply better liked over others were all causes for unfair and unequal treatment. The occasional "it's who you know" proved to be a real factor in giving special privileges to agents. Still, we heard substantial information justifying how this Prudential Realtor practices what we call "21 century discrimination" as it relates to Black and other minority agents.

As many of us know, the Memphis area and some of its surrounding areas are still home to many Americans whose family values have held over since before the civil war. These values and policies, many of which, continue to support the institution of discrimination, racism, and unequal treatment and opportunity. While one sole incident, or a totality of several incidents may not give rise to proving alleged discriminatory acts in today's courts, CommonFolk and other minorities know and can sense when a climate of discrimination exists.

In one example with the Prudential Realtor in Germantown Tennessee, one new agent continually asked to go on what are called, "listing appointments" with more experienced agents and Brokers after hearing and being told this was accepted practice by members in the office. After many requests, this agent never secured such "on-the-job training" in some of the broker's "prime neighborhoods" and it was thought this was due to the racial climate between either the Broker and/or the clients that they served and minority agents. It was almost as if the Broker was not allowing this minority agent to receive training in upper class neighborhoods, or the Broker and it's senior agents knew they would not be welcomed so why risk loosing the business.

Some Agents and Brokers we considered being exclusive assignees to these caliber of clients. On the contrary, more affordable homes in minority neighborhoods are routinely handed down to Blacks and other minority agents. One might say, the Broker knows it's a matter of good business to assign the right person of color to the right neighborhood and to the right client.

While this practice may not be blatant with every Broker, many Brokers remain silent about the discrimination they see in the course of sales and listings, as an attempt to gain more high dollar clients than their competitors.

Our investigation failed to reveal just how these decisions were made; but did reveal that there are apparent differences relating to benefits and privileges given to White agents and those given to Black agents. This Prudential Realtor as a matter of daily practice engaged in lying and deceit relative to this new agent and responded as though their actions were something other than transparent.

Having invested a considerable amount of money to enter into the real estate business and finding unfair practices at play can be disheartening. Obviously designed to stunt their growth in a very demanding industry. However difficult, the Strong Black Woman pushes on.

Many senior and experienced Agents are strictly assigned to the "big deals" which often times include those customers that only want to see a certain color of face to handle their high dollar real estate transaction. Nor did our investigation determine if White homeowners are simply not willing to do business with Black or minority realtors, and was not a focus of our inquiry. However, if past history in this area is proven to be true today, then one can surmise this to still be the case in many communities locally. Thereby explaining why some Brokers may assign preferred listings to preferred White males and white females. These practices are not carried out in the open, yet rather discreetly. Example, this Broker seemed to keep our anonymous agent distracted while the real deals and undercover benefits were going on across the office.

Our investigation concluded that not all of the same opportunities exist to all agents. Experience in many cases makes no difference. This Prudential Broker we feel routinely engaged in such practices, that supports a continuance of the racial environment we find ourselves living in here in America. The Prudential Realtor in Germantown Tennessee in particular, stated that they would properly train and be fair to all of its agents. We found this not to be true. Instead, certain aspects and areas of training were left out all together that clearly benefited the broker and it's selected agents during the processing and commission distribution to agents.

New Agents unfamiliar with these policies readily accept the status quo. We believe for they not know the tactics and strategies used by Brokers that result in absolute free labor from the Agent, while the Broker cashes in on a yet another real estate transaction.

There is a hefty cost in place to switch from one agency to another especially for an Agent with many listings. Yet another reason for not wanting to move due to the expense as well as running the risk of being the “talk of the town” especially if you are an experienced and well known agent.

What puts the icing on this cake, is the fact that during the initial interview, our anonymous agent asked the Managing Broker if the agency was fair to all of it's agents. The response was, "everyone here is treated the same."

This Prudential Office in Germantown Tennessee talked a good game when asked about it's training program highlighting a full time dedicated company trainer and other training activities and learning opportunities. They preached a good game as it related to the training of new agents while delivering very little in comparison to other real estate companies.

In a recent telephone interview with Mr. Jules Wade, Executive Director for MAAR, he stated when asked if Brokers have a responsibility to train agents on how to properly handle transactions in or out of the office, "Yes. The Tennessee Real Estate Commission puts the responsibility on any Broker who manages Agents working in his firm; the Broker is responsible for the training of that Agent. That is part of the licensing law."

For new Agents, Broker's clearly have much influence in their training and productivity. Other firms have in place in-depth systems of training that are provided to agents free of charge.

We highlight Crye-Leike Realtors in Memphis TN, and their "Crye-Leike College", a 6-9 week course of instruction provided to agents working under the Crye-Leike name which brings in experienced agents and other professionals in the areas of Real Estate to provide hands on instruction on a wide range of topics covering the entire Real Estate spectrum.

When speaking with Karen Stephens, Chairman of the Education Committee for the Memphis market at Keller Williams Realty located at 1255 Lynnfield Road, Suite 100, Memphis TN. Ms. Stephens stated when asked about Keller Williams' training program, "Keller Williams Realty has designed several programs to take all Agents to the next level. One in particular is a program we call Camp 443. (for more information see our Keller Williams Training interview)

Agents may often feel that they have no recourse because they are bound by an independent contractor's agreement which is closely guarded by the broker and gives the Broker a great deal of say so in all dealings with the Agent. Prudential Realtors in Germantown for example, did not allow one particular agent to take this contract and have it reviewed by their attorney. Upon signing this independent agent's contract, you must pay a considerable down payment that is non refundable by the Broker. Having an attorney to review it after signing will only cost more money. And more money is not what the current real estate market or its agents have in abundance.

Commission disputes between Broker and its Agents. Neither the Memphis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) nor the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) handles these types of disputes. When we contacted TREC, we were told that the Commission would not hear instances involving disputes between Agents and their Broker over commission payments. The only recourse is to file suit in Civil Court and have your case heard by a judge. Agents are reluctant to pursue this route for obvious reasons. Once black balled in this business, local firms can simply not allow you to work for their firm with no explanation needed or given. "We get into this business to sell real estate not to spend our time in courts fighting over policy and minuscule commission payments", says one Agent now with ReMax Realtors in Memphis.

Leads and Listings. Many Agents believe that a fair distribution should be in place for leads coming in from outside of the Broker's office.(ex. a potential home buyer contacts a broker's office to inquire about the purchase of a home; this is considered a lead) Mr. Jules Wade, Executive Director for MAAR stated when asked about distribution of leads coming into a Broker's office, "I don't think it's a matter of being fair. There is no law or policy that says a Broker has to be fair in distributing leads that come into an office. There is nothing that says he has to rotate leads from one agent to the other." Mr. Wade went on to say, "That's totally a business decision. Now I will say that a Broker who does not appear to be fair to all of the agents in the office will not be very successful in keeping those agents at his company. I would think he would want to be fair or he won't be in business very long."

CommonFolkNews became aware of these unfair practices as seen by Agents during our investigation into Prudential Realtor's practices. While maybe not illegal, it sure seems unfair and does not provide equal opportunity in the eyes of the public. We have since been made aware of other similar instances at other firms as well.

Because of our findings, we CANNOT offer Prudential Realtor's in Germantown Tennessee our vote of confidence. We cannot recommend them to our CommonFolkNews family of readers and supporters. This is not how we would treat our brothers, it is not how we would treat our sisters, and it is not what we as CommonFolk define as fair treatment to anyone. To treat anyone in this manner shows a disregard for CommonFolks rules of ethics and fair play.

This Prudential agency has much to correct as it relates to treatment of people. Offering the same opportunity to all Agents, and providing a field of fair play and opportunity needs to be incorporated into the overall business model within this agency.

The CommonFolkNews Family will continue to be advocates for the independent contracting Real Estate Agents. Many of which work for some of the most unfair firms across the region. And if fairness is not apart of the overall practice at any of these places of business, then there should be accountability and this wrong should be immediately corrected.

Fairness must be put back into the work place by any means necessary. To allow unfairness to continue is a disservice to the hardest working of Americans everywhere, whether it relates to independent contractors, part or full-time workers. However, since fairness is often defined differently along racial lines as well as between the "haves and the have not’s", the problem of fairness is easier talked about than corrected and is not a problem for just the Real Estate industry, but a problem for the country as a whole. All that has to be done is to give the working class of America what they are due. An earnest dollar for an earnest day's work. Not to do so, places America at great risk.

Today we find ourselves in a position of being the only country in the world able to correct a devastating wrong. The government is not trusted to be fair. This distrust is born in the halls of Congress and lives in the working class of Americans.

 

 

 

from the Class of 1981

and the
CommonFolkNews Family
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*Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed within this website are not necessarily the views and opinions of CommonFolkNews.

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