Who can we trust?
The world of sales is an ethically challenging job and every day Marie Fullerton (BRE 1985) makes complicated daily choices to be a professional, ethical realtor.
During high school Marie’s English teacher told her that if she read about all the terrible things that have been done in the name of Christianity she wouldn’t believe anymore. She read all books but she also knew that there were many good things that Christians had done that were not noted in those books. Marie handed the books back saying, “Some terrible things have happened and that’s awful but God is good.”
Despite her innate assurance of God’s goodness, Marie did have questions and came to Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale) to answer some of them. She then got her BA in Psychology from York University while working full time. After that came marriage, other jobs, four children and two major house renovations.
Then Marie was reminded of the results of a university career test. Real Estate was at the top of the list, “But I didn’t have the confidence at the time,” says Marie. The confidence came with time and learning more about herself; two of her spiritual gifts are hospitality and mercy, and she knows she is wired for service. “I connect with people because I care,” says Marie. But once she became a realtor she entered the world of sales and all the suspicion that comes with that. Marie understands the suspicions and urges people to be cautious. However, when someone accused Marie of being nice just because she’s a realtor, Marie remembers being shocked, “I’ve never been told that before. I’d always been told that’s my personality [being nice] and who I am. So I had to get thicker skin fast.”
Marie is tough on behalf of others-her clients. During one of her first negotiations, after having done a lot of research, she and her client met with the seller and her realtor and Marie was able to bring the seller’s price down considerably due to many issues with the home (no basement, old windows and furnace). Marie felt that the other realtor had priced the house based on the seller’s financial situation and not its actual worth. After the negotiations Marie received a call from the other realtor accusing her of being heartless. “It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the seller but I was there to represent my client’s interest,” says Marie.
Marie has to review her motives every day. She analyzes her actions, “Did I do it because I’m a realtor or because I’m a Christian? I don’t separate who I am as a Christian from who I am in the work that I do.”
Today becoming a realtor involves six challenging courses and continuous upgrading every year. Marie did very well in her courses but all the training was focused on the law, not how to sell in a very competitive field. So Marie has to choose how to do the job every day.
Marie believes, "Freedom is living in the present, in the grace of God, according to His Word and as my conscience dictates. Freedom is enjoying the security of living the purpose and direction my God and Father guides me in. In my job I help others obtain the freedom of finding a home, or selling an investment."
Living in the present begins with Marie's daily choices which help her make the bigger choices in her job. She wakes up and either goes to the gym or for a run. “This means I am clearheaded for the day,” says Marie. When she goes for a run or a walk she listens to the Bible on her phone. Her family also take food very seriously, living out the maxim, “Good stuff in, good stuff out.” And Marie does her homework-diligently. These regular choices provide the foundation for making sound choices in a negotiation or a bidding war or in deciding the best way to spend her time and money as a self-employed person in a service industry.
Recently Marie made a choice that illustrates the line she walks. A prospective client had a neighbour who was alone, ill and neglected. It was known that this person’s living conditions were not healthy. The state of this person’s home was going to make it difficult for Marie’s prospective client to sell their own home, but this person also obviously needed care and attention. Marie’s prospective client didn’t feel comfortable trying to find help for this neighbour, so she decided that the best outcome for everyone was to become involved. Marie spent six hours on the phone one day trying to find help for the neighbour.
After phoning multiple agencies Marie was finally able to speak to someone that specializes in these kinds of cases. The person became involved and the neighbour is now receiving much-needed medical care.
Marie chose to give up her time that day which meant giving up the opportunity of other business that same day.
It is in these choices that Marie’s job has become a profession. “I didn’t really think of this job as a ministry when I took it on. I definitely didn’t think of it as a calling. I was choosing a job. Yet as I do the job, every week there is something that comes up where I see that God uses me…[it] took being in this kind of position to have the opportunity to see where the needs were so I could reach out and do what I needed to do as a Christian. So, it wasn’t that I thought of selling Real Estate as a ministry, it just is a ministry while I am doing the job.”
The challenge of selling one’s home can be a vulnerable experience-financial decisions, divorce, or death. Yet Marie is able to face the tension in these challenges because she has seen how God has used her past training and experiences to prepare her for the world of selling Real Estate. Just as she chose to face and answer the questions posed by her high school teacher, Marie continually questions her motives in making choices of how to serve God and make a living.