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Is what the Bible says about 'diverse scales' applicable to working on commission?

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#1
Hi there, this is my first post, hopefully this will be a fruitful place to ask questions. I was raised a Christian and have always had a belief in God but my faith and walk with God has really been taken to a new level in the past few years, particularly this year the intensity has increased greatly and I have many questions.

Here is one that I have been struggling with lately.

I am a Realtor and at times I find myself feeling very guilty about how we are paid. At times I have thought the devil misled me to this career path, but after much prayer about the subject I have determined it is God that brought me here and that God wants me to stay here. I have come to this conclusion because while it sometimes seems the profession is filled with unethical people and can lead you down the wrong path, God knows I work for the best of my clients and want what is best for them, and that can be of great benefit to them saving them from future financial distress or other problems.

With that said, sometimes I just don't understand why when I work for a seller who owns a $250,000 home I make half as much as a seller who owns a $500,000 home and I make 3 times as much selling a $750,000 home as the $250,000 home. (Okay, so to be real we generally cut our commission a little when it goes that high and spend a little more marketing, but probably 2.5-2.75x as much) Sometimes it is even easier to sell the $750k home than the $250k home, depending on the situation. Obviously, commission is negotiable and everyone has the opportunity to interview various agents, try to fsbo, or even use one of many discount brokers. In fact, at one point I felt so guilty I said I would offer to sell homes for 4.5% to save them money, I also had the idea that it would work well on my behalf if people were pleased with my service and enjoyed the discount, it would spread like wildfire. I thought God would bless this idea, but tried as I may people did not take me up on my offer. They seemed to believe the 'you get what you pay for' or that I was trying something underhanded or deceptive but I was not, I honestly thought it would help me grow my business and save them money at the same time. When I returned to requesting 5 - 6% people once again became much more eager to hire me.

However, sometimes I return to my feelings of guilt and feel like it is just too much money for any home over the 250-400k ball park. I liken it to what if the restaurant charged you based on how much you weighed rather than the entree you ordered?

Lastly, I have considered becoming a flat fee broker such as 'help u sell' or many others but those never seem to do very well either. I guess the problem is two fold in that people distrust you or think you will provide inferior service, or else because there are so many realtors, you are not able to secure enough business at the rate. We generally believe competition drives prices down, but in real estate it is almost like the over-availability of agents chokes out anyone willing to do the job for less.

If I did not have to spend countless hours and dollars calling prospects and advertising I could easily sell 5 or 6 homes a month and live a normal life for a couple grand each, however, because of competition and how much time I need to spend seeking interviews and interviewing with people who do not hire me I feel I need to charge the going rate. I, however, am only about 4.5 years into my career and know if I stay in it eventually more business will start coming at which time, I will begin making crazy money unless I volunteer to cut my rate, however, at this point I still struggle both to make my living and with the enormous fees people pay us for the hours we work.

When I think about my 4.5% venture I think that maybe God did not bless it because while it was a discount, it was still a 'diverse scale' going based on percentage of a sales price rather than services rendered. I would be willing to try being a flat fee broker but I struggle both with what is fair to charge and also with the possibility of going bankrupt. I recently made the offer to a potential client I interviewed with that they could pay me a reduced flat fee up front not-contingent on the sale or the traditional 'percentage at closing' contingent upon sale and it seemed to make them distrust me and they did not hire me. This is the only time I have ever offered the flat fee, versus the reduced percentage.

One last thought I've had is that God might support the high rate of pay is because he understands that we must embrace the months we receive potatoes and gravy and keep in mind there are months we only receive the potatoes, or nothing, and if everyone were to go to discounting services, less people would be able to do real estate as their profession. Those people would simply be without work or income. It is a very tough business, many people wind up here because they do not qualify for any other job that makes a decent living. I personally have a BA in Poli Sci but no graduate degree. I taught for a year and decided it was not a good fit, but there are few opportunities to someone like me other than commissioned sales. I have found many agents are simply in shoes such as my own, with worthless degrees and in many cases with more mouths to feed than their own.

Please speak to me on what you think God says on this matter. Is working on a percentage basis 'diverse scales' in God's eyes or does God want me to charge the going rate so that there will be enough to go around for the many agents needing income?
 
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WIP

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#2
Welcome to CFnet!! :wave
I believe that God leads us where He wants us to go. The question that we need to ask and the answer we need to listen for is what does God want us to do with the path He's prepared for us? God does not abhor wealth and in some cases He actually puts us on a path to wealth. Its what we do with that wealth that is important.

As you've already mentioned, our society can actually frown on a perceived "cheap" solution. It amazes me how at times one can offer to give something away and not find a taker but then put a price on the item and it will sell.

In your case, maybe your guilt stems from a lack of listening to what God is telling you. If God is providing you with wealth beyond what you really need, perhaps He is using your abilities and talents to lead you into a position to share your wealth with others with need.
 
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#3
Hi, thanks for your response. I have also thought of that, in fact, I have recently wondered if God wants me to make a great deal of money to do good things with it, however, I am not wealthy I have struggled. I guess what I struggle with is the feeling that we overcharge. Does God ask us to gouge to do charity?

But specifically, if you think you are able to answer, Proverbs states God abhors diverse scales. Now I think it is easy to see they are referring to having one scale that weighs lighter when you buy and a scale that weighs heavy when you sell, but is charging based on a percentage of the sales price also a diverse scale?

If I charge a poor man $6,000 to sell his $100,000 home and a wealthy man $60,000 to sell his $1,000,000 home and I have invested relatively little more money or time have I used diverse scales?
 
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reba

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#4
Seems to me as long as a person is 'up-front' about the charges it is ok... Being honest keeps the 'scales ' just....
Have you ever figured out the wage per hour you make... Do you take into account the sales that you did not make.... time spent with the 'bebacks' etc. accounting for the lean times?

I sold my home with out a realtor that option is there for any one...

Because of location i sure wont go it alone this time... Care to by a 100+ year old home in the middle of nowhere on almost 3 acres... good well :)
 
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#5
Are you referring to Proverbs 20:23 "Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good"? This scripture is referring to using tricks to cheat people. As you will remember from your real estate contract class, a contract is perfectly legal and moral as long as (among other things) all parties involved are aware of what the contract states (as long as it's within the law) and what their obligation is. If a seller agrees to pay 6% on a $1,000,000 sale you are doing nothing wrong in God's eyes by accepting your rightful payment for fulfilling your part of the contract. The amount you gain is irrelevant.

Reba is right, and as a former Realtor I agree with her. If you haven't kept really good records of ALL of your expenses on ALL contracts you entered into and averaged out your income over the last 4 years or so over the honest number of ALL the hours you put in (most people don't keep records that well), you may be surprised at how little you've actually made on a per hour basis. You said yourself: "I am not wealthy I have struggled". And lets not forget Paul tells us "For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy 5:18, ESV) While this passage is specifically saying that our pastors and teachers are to be paid for their work, the scriptures he is using here (Deuteronomy 25:4 and probably referring to the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:10) is referring to all workers.

Another thing you need to consider is where will your wages come from when there is a slump in the market, which WILL happen some day? Then you will be working many more hours with no pay at all while you hope for that one sale that will get you through for a little while longer. If you haven't allowed yourself to take the pay that you deserve now, you won't have the reserves you need to get you through the slumps. By the way, that's exactly the reason I'm a "former" Realtor.
 

WIP

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#6
I think an important aspect of your situation is that your clients know up front what the costs will be for the sale of their homes. When I applied for work here, I was offered a salary. I could either accept it and the job or deny it and the job. The choice was mine. When I sell my wheat or soybeans each year I am offered a price. I can either accept the amount and sell or refuse the amount and hold my grain for a better price. Nobody is cheating anybody in these types of transactions. Now, if you were not being up front with your fees but instead were elusive about them until the papers were signed, then I think you would have a legitimate concern. Based on what you've been writing, I'd say your concerns are unnecessary.

Just my $.02....or $10,000.00 or whatever. :biggrin2
 
B

Brother Mike

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#7
Hi, thanks for your response. I have also thought of that, in fact, I have recently wondered if God wants me to make a great deal of money to do good things with it, however, I am not wealthy I have struggled. I guess what I struggle with is the feeling that we overcharge. Does God ask us to gouge to do charity?

But specifically, if you think you are able to answer, Proverbs states God abhors diverse scales. Now I think it is easy to see they are referring to having one scale that weighs lighter when you buy and a scale that weighs heavy when you sell, but is charging based on a percentage of the sales price also a diverse scale?

If I charge a poor man $6,000 to sell his $100,000 home and a wealthy man $60,000 to sell his $1,000,000 home and I have invested relatively little more money or time have I used diverse scales?
God hates perverse scales is not what he meant. He hates scales that are weighted to favor the seller by the unseen extra weight the buyer is not aware of.

Jesus told a Parable, a bunch of folks hired and worked all day, then at the end of the day they went back and town and got more folk to work for the few hours left in the day. It was agreed that they be paid a penny for the work done.

When it was time to pay everyone, the ones that only worked an hour were paid the same as those that worked all day. The ones that worked all day were mad, but what Jesus say? It's fair, you were paid what was agreed with.

Mat 20:13 kjva But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

People have to sign contracts and should know what commision is going out, and what the realtor is getting. It could be millions or 1 dollar, the amount does not matter. What matters is did the folks get charged for something hidden from them? That is what a perverse scale is, the hidden weight.

your fine, if folks sign and have the contract and you do exactly as the contract states then according to Jesus all is good, even if it don't seem fair like those folks that got mad at not getting more than the ones that only worked a few hours compared to all day.
 
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#8
God hates perverse scales is not what he meant. He hates scales that are weighted to favor the seller by the unseen extra weight the buyer is not aware of.

Jesus told a Parable, a bunch of folks hired and worked all day, then at the end of the day they went back and town and got more folk to work for the few hours left in the day. It was agreed that they be paid a penny for the work done.

When it was time to pay everyone, the ones that only worked an hour were paid the same as those that worked all day. The ones that worked all day were mad, but what Jesus say? It's fair, you were paid what was agreed with.

Mat 20:13 kjva But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

People have to sign contracts and should know what commision is going out, and what the realtor is getting. It could be millions or 1 dollar, the amount does not matter. What matters is did the folks get charged for something hidden from them? That is what a perverse scale is, the hidden weight.

your fine, if folks sign and have the contract and you do exactly as the contract states then according to Jesus all is good, even if it don't seem fair like those folks that got mad at not getting more than the ones that only worked a few hours compared to all day.
The above Quotes are according to scripture: Mat 20:13 kjva But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
 
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#9
I thought that I may check the scripture. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Matthew 20:13
 
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B

Brother Mike

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#10
I thought that I may check the scripture. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Matthew 20:13
Jesus said the Children of Light are unwise in unrighteous mammon. Or that we get goofy ideas when it comes to the business World and Money.

Luk 16:8-9 kjva 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

In the world of unrighteous wealth and possessions, we are suppose to be prudent and wise like everyone else. Even the unjust steward who settled everyone's bills for what was owed was commended by his Lord.
 
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#12
Hi there, this is my first post, hopefully this will be a fruitful place to ask questions. I was raised a Christian and have always had a belief in God but my faith and walk with God has really been taken to a new level in the past few years, particularly this year the intensity has increased greatly and I have many questions.

Here is one that I have been struggling with lately.

I am a Realtor and at times I find myself feeling very guilty about how we are paid. At times I have thought the devil misled me to this career path, but after much prayer about the subject I have determined it is God that brought me here and that God wants me to stay here. I have come to this conclusion because while it sometimes seems the profession is filled with unethical people and can lead you down the wrong path, God knows I work for the best of my clients and want what is best for them, and that can be of great benefit to them saving them from future financial distress or other problems.

With that said, sometimes I just don't understand why when I work for a seller who owns a $250,000 home I make half as much as a seller who owns a $500,000 home and I make 3 times as much selling a $750,000 home as the $250,000 home. (Okay, so to be real we generally cut our commission a little when it goes that high and spend a little more marketing, but probably 2.5-2.75x as much) Sometimes it is even easier to sell the $750k home than the $250k home, depending on the situation. Obviously, commission is negotiable and everyone has the opportunity to interview various agents, try to fsbo, or even use one of many discount brokers. In fact, at one point I felt so guilty I said I would offer to sell homes for 4.5% to save them money, I also had the idea that it would work well on my behalf if people were pleased with my service and enjoyed the discount, it would spread like wildfire. I thought God would bless this idea, but tried as I may people did not take me up on my offer. They seemed to believe the 'you get what you pay for' or that I was trying something underhanded or deceptive but I was not, I honestly thought it would help me grow my business and save them money at the same time. When I returned to requesting 5 - 6% people once again became much more eager to hire me.

However, sometimes I return to my feelings of guilt and feel like it is just too much money for any home over the 250-400k ball park. I liken it to what if the restaurant charged you based on how much you weighed rather than the entree you ordered?

Lastly, I have considered becoming a flat fee broker such as 'help u sell' or many others but those never seem to do very well either. I guess the problem is two fold in that people distrust you or think you will provide inferior service, or else because there are so many realtors, you are not able to secure enough business at the rate. We generally believe competition drives prices down, but in real estate it is almost like the over-availability of agents chokes out anyone willing to do the job for less.

If I did not have to spend countless hours and dollars calling prospects and advertising I could easily sell 5 or 6 homes a month and live a normal life for a couple grand each, however, because of competition and how much time I need to spend seeking interviews and interviewing with people who do not hire me I feel I need to charge the going rate. I, however, am only about 4.5 years into my career and know if I stay in it eventually more business will start coming at which time, I will begin making crazy money unless I volunteer to cut my rate, however, at this point I still struggle both to make my living and with the enormous fees people pay us for the hours we work.

When I think about my 4.5% venture I think that maybe God did not bless it because while it was a discount, it was still a 'diverse scale' going based on percentage of a sales price rather than services rendered. I would be willing to try being a flat fee broker but I struggle both with what is fair to charge and also with the possibility of going bankrupt. I recently made the offer to a potential client I interviewed with that they could pay me a reduced flat fee up front not-contingent on the sale or the traditional 'percentage at closing' contingent upon sale and it seemed to make them distrust me and they did not hire me. This is the only time I have ever offered the flat fee, versus the reduced percentage.

One last thought I've had is that God might support the high rate of pay is because he understands that we must embrace the months we receive potatoes and gravy and keep in mind there are months we only receive the potatoes, or nothing, and if everyone were to go to discounting services, less people would be able to do real estate as their profession. Those people would simply be without work or income. It is a very tough business, many people wind up here because they do not qualify for any other job that makes a decent living. I personally have a BA in Poli Sci but no graduate degree. I taught for a year and decided it was not a good fit, but there are few opportunities to someone like me other than commissioned sales. I have found many agents are simply in shoes such as my own, with worthless degrees and in many cases with more mouths to feed than their own.

Please speak to me on what you think God says on this matter. Is working on a percentage basis 'diverse scales' in God's eyes or does God want me to charge the going rate so that there will be enough to go around for the many agents needing income?
Could you just realize before we go any further, you said: I was raised a Christian and have always had a belief in God but my faith and walk with God has really been taken to a new level in the past few years, particularly this year the intensity has increased greatly and I have many questions.

Let me ask you just from the start, this one question, so that we can be on the same page/accord, ok? according to: John 14:15 how long or have you kept the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ, or do you love the Lord Jesus? Or Let me let you know that I've truly been keeping his commandments about 18 years now. So what about you? As we read in John 14:16-31.
 
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#13
What i would do in your situation. Have a set percentage that you would like to make on any given house that you are selling, a percentage that you feel God would approve and you would not feel guilty about. Then try to sell the house for whatever the customer is willing to buy it for, yes above and beyond the percentage that you would accept.
Then take the money that is above the percentage you asked for, and put it to the work of God. Helping the homeless, giving to charities. Donating the money. buying Christmas gifts for kids who will be getting no presents.

Also if you deem the buyers to be Christian buyers, then tell them what you are planning to do. You can say something like. "if i sell the house to you for this much, i will be giving 3.2% of my commission to ________________."

It's a win win situation if you do it this way. You are getting the percentage that you want for yourself and family, and not feeling guilty about the extra, because that money is going to charity or to help the community in which you live, or whatever. Also the buyers will be more inclined (maybe) to buy the house thinking that their money or at least a part of it, is going to help somebody else.

But be forewarned, it will be inevitable that satan will tempt you to just keep the money instead of giving it away all the time, you will know this has happened if the guilt comes back to you.

††† In His Holy and Precious Name, Jesus Christ †††
 
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#14
If the economy turns bad again (and it will) - will you make tons of money THEN? No. You are in sales - there are no guarantees, you may do very well, you may not. And the good times can end at any time. You are making good money now, just keep in mind that I have a friend in Real Estate that went from over $100,000 a year to under $15,000 a year for TWO years. THAT is why you make so much. I, on the other hand, make less than $100,000 a year, but have NEVER been out of work in 31 years.

God knows I work for the best of my clients and want what is best for them, and that can be of great benefit to them saving them from future financial distress or other problems.
Fine. But do you do so by being deceptive with the other party in the real estate transaction? If so, I don't care how much money you make or dont' make - you pretty much deserve a life-destroying disease or maybe a trip to Hell. Your income is not of my concern - your character is. I suspect God sees it largely, but probably not completely, the same way.

You are in a filthy profession. I have dealt with four real estate agents in my life. Two were wonderful people who worked for me and looked out for me. Two were creeps, dishonest, deceptive and looking out primarily for themselves while they used my transaction and money to line their pockets. The fact that all four were women does not matter. The fact that all four were "Christians" is disgusting.
 

Sparrowhawke

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#20
Amos 8:4-6
Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over, So that we may sell grain, And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, To make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, And to cheat with dishonest scales, So as to buy the helpless for money And the needy for a pair of sandals, And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?"
Proverbs 11:1
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.
Proverbs 16:11
A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.
Proverbs 22:28
Do not move the ancient boundary Which your fathers have set.

We are told to deal uprightly and to eschew evil. But profit is not evil, just as money itself is only a tool. The love of such things allows them to become as god to some who compromise what is right and wrong for their own benefit (only). But God does not want us to tie ourselves up in knots over such things. That is a common ploy of our enemy; when he can't outright deceive and get you to commit fraud, then maybe he can blur things and sew confusion into the blessing that God gives. Cause you to feel guilty and defraud God of the thanks He desires from your joyful heart. Know that He owns your heart and your love is His due. The enemy is very subtle sometimes. But know that God loves you even more than you can imagine. He wants you to be happy. "...but a just weight is His delight."

And we need to consider Him in all things. We need to put Him first. It is good to thank God in all things. Know also that it is good for a man (or woman) to have what they worked for. From what you've said? God is well pleased. Take the time necessary to memorize Psalm 128. Put your treasure where none may break in for in truth it is the Joy of the Lord that is your strength. You should know how happy you make Him. Rejoice and give thanks. Not only has your Father in heaven provided all these things, He Himself is there with you, for He has sent His Spirit, our Teacher who is Holy, holy and holy - and can not sin. Trust Him and know that your trust is well placed.
 
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