When you think of Comox Valley real estate agents does integrity come to mind right away? When I ask clients what qualities are important to them in a real estate agent, the word “integrity” is often voiced. But what is it ? Ask 10 different people to provide you with a precise definition. You may be very surprised with the results.
Anyone who wants to become a Comox Valley real estate agent in British Columbia must first take and pass a real estate trading services course. The licensing course manual mentions the word integrity once within the context of a brief discussion of the REALTOR ® Code produced by the Canadian Real Estate Association as follows “As REALTORS ® , we are committed to absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings” . However, the word is not mentioned in the index, nor is it defined in the glossary or anywhere else in the manual.
The Residential real estate Trading Services Applied Practice Course is taken shortly after one obtains a real estate license in BC. The word integrity appears once in the course manual second chapter in a section entitled ethical, legal and privacy issues when it states “licensees must use this information with integrity”. The word also appear twice in connection with a discussion of honesty in the chapter on legal and ethical issues . No mention is made of this aspect of character in the glossary or index.
Unless I missed it, this e word is not defined, and in fact, not even mentioned in the Real Estate Council of BC Professional Standards Manual. Nor is there any mention of the word in The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board regulations under Professional Conduct. As mentioned in the second paragraph above, the REALTOR ® Code makes mention of the word once.
If integrity is important in listing and presenting Comox Valley real estate, and why is it given so little attention by the real estate organizations that govern real estate agents and real estate transactions? Moreover, why is the word not even defined by them?
Why is it important to define the terms that we use? Words and the meaning that they convey are important to facilitate effective communication, and to convey complete and accurate understanding. For me, communication is a three part process: message sent; message received; and message understood as intended.
When the word integrity is applied to people, the reference is to their general character. The character of a person is important because it embodies who they are, and what they believe. Character also affects how they act. Attributes, morality, and values are ingredients of character. Is this an important attribute of the person you will trust to sell your Comox Valley home?
Attributes are the foundation upon which character is built since they represent who a person is mentally, physically, and emotionally. We are borne with attributes and we develop them through the education, training and experience of life.
Morality should be considered the framework around which character is built since it concerns the ethical principles that can be used to choose and/or judge between right and wrong (legally and morally). Some professions establish moral codes of conduct that are expressed through ethical principles and obligations. Integrity is an often cited ethical principle.
Values should be considered the glue that holds character together since they provide the basis for judgements, and they are the beliefs about conduct that guide actions. People develop basic values of their own through experience, and they develop values from a variety of other sources during their lifetime. Organizations may espouse values that they believe are of core importance to who they are and how they act. Integrity can also be a value.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines integrity as wholeness; soundness; uprightness; and honesty. Dictionary.com defines integrity as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; and honesty. Based on more than 35 years of education, training and experience related to the practice of integrity, I believe that these lexical definitions are too general and limiting.
Consider the following definition and discussion of integrity from the book Duty with Honour. To have integrity is to have unconditional and steadfast commitment to a principled approach to meeting your obligations while being responsible and accountable for your actions. Accordingly, a person of integrity calls for honesty, the avoidance of deception, and adherence to high ethical standards. Integrity insists that your actions be consistent with established codes of conduct and institutional values. It specifically requires transparency in actions, speaking and acting with honesty and candor, the pursuit of truth regardless of personal consequences, and a dedication to fairness and justice.
Why is integrity important to me in real estate? When I buy and sell a home for myself as a Comox Valley real estate agent, I will use the services of a real estate agent just like anybody else. If a real estate agent is going to be entrusted to represent my interests in a real estate transaction that involves my most expensive investment, I have to know that I can trust them.
My trust in a professional relationship is affected by the character and competence of the professional. My trust develops over time based on what I discover about their integrity, motivation, values, words, and actions.
I believe that integrity is absolutely fundamental to success in life, business, and to real estate. To me, success stems from who we are in life, and how we treat other people. We will often be remembered more for the type of person that we were, and how we treated and helped other people, and less for what we did and accomplished in life.
Over the years, I have witnessed people placing their own interests ahead of others, and then using those other people merely to get ahead in “what” they do in life – often for position, power, or wealth. How will these types of people be remembered? I know how I remember them. Will they be remembered for their integrity?
Confucius had this to say:
“Meet the virtuous and think about how to be their match, meet those not virtuous and examine yourself.”
“I know not what a man without trustworthiness may accomplish.”
“I used to take a man at his word and trusted that he would act accordingly. But now I listen to his words and note his actions.” and
“Conduct guided by profit is cause for much complaint.”
Confucius was revered by many as a person of wisdom. Perhaps we should listen to what he had to say. Which type of real estate agent would you prefer to have help you with your real estate needs – one guided by integrity, or one guided by profit? Contact Brett Cairns of RE/MAX Ocean Pacific Realty and let him help you buy or sell your home.
by Brett Cairns