Avoid a Tori Spelling moment by finding the humanity in clients

Publish Date: July 27, 2023

Written by Troy Palmquist

- Originally published at Inman News - Troy Palmquist

An LA Realtor recently found himself in the hot seat after mistakenly texting Spelling-snark to Tori herself. Southern California broker Troy Palmquist shares what that mistake can teach you about how you communicate.

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I’m not usually all that interested in celebrity gossip, but I couldn’t help noticing a recent story when I came across it on social media. Actress and reality show star Tori Spelling shared screenshots of a conversation she had with a prospective real estate agent, wherein he had, apparently mistakenly, texted her — when he’d meant to text about her to someone else.

The confusion began when Spelling, who’s currently going through a divorce, while also enduring mold remediation on her home, reached out to the Realtor to find a one-month rental. By that time, presumably, the mold abatement would be completed and she and her kids could return home.

You can read all of the back and forth and detail here. Long story short, when she reached out to the Realtor, he wrote back, apparently thinking he was writing to a friend or colleague, making fun of Spelling and her situation. She called him out on it and, subsequently, posted a screenshot of the exchange on her social media platform.

The Realtor then reached out to a gossip column saying that it was all a case of mistaken identity, that he thought there was someone impersonating Spelling, and that he was just trying to verify their identity.

Aside from the fact that due diligence doesn’t involve making fun of a lead or client, his story doesn’t make much sense. He didn’t ask for ID or any additional information. 

Most of the focus of this story has been on Spelling and her financial, marital and professional circumstances, but what I couldn’t get past was the way this Realtor acted. How unprofessional and, much more than that, how unkind he was.

Life is tough enough without a rude Realtor

Think about the reasons people buy or sell a home or relocate. Sometimes it’s for a happy reason, like a new marriage, a new baby or a big job promotion. Many times, however, it’s for a terrible reason, like a death, divorce or disaster.

Spelling is dealing with two of those three, and she has five children to take care of. Whether you like her or not, she’s going through a situation that none of us would want to go through, nor would we want someone we care about to go through it.

Imagine how hard it would be to reach out and have someone make fun of your situation. This is especially true for any celebrity, since their whole life involves scrutiny and criticism.

Aside from everything else, what does it tell this real estate agent’s clients about his discretion and his lack of good sense? I wouldn’t want someone like that working in and representing my brokerage, and I wouldn’t trust him to negotiate on my behalf as a client.

But they didn’t have a brokerage relationship

I know, I know, they hadn’t signed anything. He didn’t owe her a fiduciary duty. This is less about this particular circumstance and more about the behavior in general.

Do you really think that someone who gossips about a lead draws the line when he enters into a representation agreement? Do you think someone who’s rude and snarky and careless over text won’t be that way when it comes to clients or colleagues?

I’ve written before about professionalism in the industry, from how we talk to each other to how hard we party. Call me old fashioned or a stick-in-the-mud, but at the end of the day, I want to be able to look myself in the mirror — and look my family in the eyes — and feel good about the way I’ve acted and what my name stands for.

The best way to make sure you don’t have a Tori Spelling moment, then, is not to be the kind of human who talks smack about a single mother with five kids who’s having to live in a motel while her house is fumigated for toxic mold. More than that, don’t be someone who talks smack about anyone who’s reaching out to you for assistance.

In this case, we know the victim of this Realtor’s bad behavior. We’ve watched her grow up on our TV screens. That’s why we’re paying attention.

How you act when no one’s watching, when you think you can get away with it — that’s the measure of a professional and a person. Do right by people.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of DOORA Properties in Southern California, a Side partner company. Follow him on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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