CCIAOR President Martha Knapp

By Martha Knapp

I’d like to start this month’s column by asking a question:  What characteristics do you attribute to a “professional” 


The answer to that is likely as varied as the people who are asked. I believe at the most basic level, it means someone whohas the desire to be the very best they can be and consistently works toward achieving that goal.

Let’s be honest, we know we work in an industry that is largely misunderstood. The impression is that we are overpaid, underworked, and overly praised. I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think you do either. That being said, we have all had transactions and encounters with other agents that meet that incorrect stereotype, where the other agent has been less than professional and sometimes, bordering on unethical.

So how do we elevate the level of professionalism in our industry? I believe it’s a multi-level problem that requires a multi-tiered approach.

Individually, we need to raise the bar by setting the example; start by being the REALTOR® you want others to be. Challenge yourself by continually learning and staying up-to-date with industry news, technology, and association policies. We take an oath to abide by a code of ethics when we become a REALTOR®; when was the last time you read it?

As a collective, we need to hold each other accountable. Our Code of Ethics is a self-policing effort. If all we do is complain, then nothing changes and we are not part of the solution because we’re too busy being part of the problem.

If you see an infraction of our MLS rules, don’t be afraid to utilize the violation button. More often than not, the agent didn’t know they were doing something wrong and it will simply be a learning experience for them.

We also have an ombudsman program that is very successful in finding resolutions to issues before they escalate or the behavior is allowed to continue.

If you see a clear violation of the code of ethics, file a grievance or ethics complaint. Simply contact the CCIAOR office or our Professional Standards Administrator to file a complaint or address a concern. And if it fits within our Ethics Citation program, it can even be filed anonymously.

At the company level, brokers and managers need to hold agents accountable by mentoring and training the agents who are serious, and to stop enabling non-practicing agents by allowing them to simply “hang their hat” while not meeting a minimum standard of professionalism.

I work very hard, take pride in what I do, and have a great deal of respect for our industry and my fellow agents who also work hard to set a high standard. I know many of you feel the same way and I hear it from you often. Why do we settle for less?

Let’s work together to redefine what it means to be a Cape Cod REALTOR®, a Martha’s Vineyard REALTOR®, and a Nantucket REALTOR®. We can elevate each other and this industry while all benefiting from the results. A rising tide lifts all boats.