Real estate and ethics

Getting closer to Withfor, a rather unusual estate agency, that applies ethical principals in their day to day; thus putting in perspective the concept of profitability and asserting themselves as a citizen’s business. Going even further, Withfor has integrated B-Corp’s evaluation system with the aim of soon becoming certified.

Withfor

19 October 2018 |

Since its creation in Barcelona in 2017, Withfor has been determined to affirm its values and so establish itself as a unique and trustworthy player within Catalonia’s real estate ecosystem. This has only been possible through an extensive effort of reflection on an ever-changing environment (regulatory framework, digital transformation, etc.) and a sector that suffers from an image tarnished by malpractice. Withfor’s long term vision is to demonstrate that financial and social goals are not incompatible. Let us take a brief tour of the first ethical estate agent in Catalonia.

 

Ethical business = citizens’ business + moral dimension

 

A “citizens’” business is a company that values its interest in society as a whole and humanity in particular at the same level as its own interests. This means it recognises it must take responsibility for its actions, and also concern itself with the public interest, both socially and environmentally.

 

For the founders of Withfor, establishing themselves as “ethical” is also a way of fighting against prejudices, of which there are many, affecting the real estate sector. It also allows them to launch this venture in accordance with their own moral convictions, prioritising both individual and social progress.

 

The stereotypes: What are they?

  • Real estate = purely capitalist and speculative sector
  • Lack of transparency, opaqueness
  • Information in small print / less than transparent agency fees
  • Aggressive commercial practises
  • Limited customer service and no real ensuing after-sales service
  • Dishonest advertising
  • Discriminatory comments or practises against certain clients or groups
  • Estate agent = self-taught with no specific training.

 

The list is not exhaustive; it paints a mediocre picture of a profession that, having not been regulated for years, has been seized upon by people contriving to be promoters or real estate agents.

In the end, malpractice causes mistrust amongst clients. Now it depends on us to win this back through tangible and irrefutable arguments.

 

And in the day-to-day practice of an estate agent, what does it mean to be ethical?

For example, concerns might be raised regarding employment and environmental protection. But in the case of Withfor, we have to go further. Let’s summarise our approach in a table:

 

Aspect

Characteristic

Outcome

Withfor’s ethic

Economic 1 Recommend goods and services Sell useful products under clear terms and conditions Through its quality standards, Withfor promises to continually improve internal processes.
Economic 2 Create economic value Long term wealth generation Withfor has taken means to redistribute part of its profits ***
Internal social Create a community of work Promote the human and professional development of the employees The Withfor team functions cooperatively** People are its key asset, as is its pursuit of excellence.
External social Interact with other companies and institutions Generate a positive impact in the social environment Withfor has created an action plan to help the local community: Withfor Family*
Environmental Interact with the natural surroundings Contribute to the preservation of the environment Withfor always recommends the most environmentally friendly technical solutions
Temporal Demonstrate durability Work for the growth and sustainability of the company In order to create a lasting relationship with its clients, Withfor has developed bespoke services

This table is based on investigations by Pedro Recojo, author of “Etica para directivos y consejeros” S.A EUNSA. EDICIONES UNIVERSIDAD DE NAVARRA, 2014.

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