There’s always something to howl about

Play nice, and NO COMMENTS!

Forgive the absence of links, although I may have to throw in a couple of unreferenced quotes for effect, but my intent is not to fuel a ridiculous “debate”, for lack of a better word (although there are many better words). Anyone who cares about the catalyst for my comments will have to do their own research.

“Antagonize” was a word my children learned at a very young age, as in “Stop antagonizing your sister.” It really is time to stop all of the silliness, and quit antagonizing one another. Like any good mother, there comes a time when you have to ground the children. Greg – Go to your room for using the “M” word. (And like any good mother, I will laugh hysterically when you leave the room, because I really found your wordplay raucously funny). Keith and all of your Housing Panic friends, I am sending you home for behaving badly as well. The term RealtWhore, while considered by you and your friends to be quite clever, is clearly a derogatory remark and very childish. We will do it again when everyone can play nice.

Obviously, what we have here are some very divergent opinions on the real estate market trends. What bothers me the most at this moment, however, is what seems to be the underlying theme: The utter lack of respect many (most) people seem to hold for our profession. And in a perhaps unprecedented blogging moment, I insist that you DO NOT COMMENT ON THIS POST. It’s not that I know and fear that many will disagree with my remarks, but only that I am not looking to pick another playground fight. Consider it my therapy session.

I am truly tired of the sport of Realtor bashing. Here are the promised, unreferenced remarks, all unfortunately real and recent quotes:

(Realtors have a) lack of class, lack of education, lack of intelligence.

I find (the) ‘profession’ and business vile and disgusting in that it pretends to act as a fiduciary for home buyers and is nothing of the sort.

Why do you put your picture on your Blog comments/business cards/bill boards (if you are not a Realtwhore)?

Realtors whore out their integrity, honesty, and self respect for money.

Used house salesmen will be viewed with more disdain than lawyers, politicians, or used car salesmen.

Why don’t we take it from the top.

  1. Real estate is a job. Like any other, this is a job that people do for a living. And like any other job, there are those who are quite good at it and take it very seriously (say, like a career?), and those that stink. As in life, there are good, ethical, honest, hardworking individuals and there are opportunists who care only for themselves and are motivated only by ego and greed. To stereotype an entire discipline because of some perception, or even real life experience (involving those in the latter category), is not only unenlightened but ignorant.
  2. Many Realtors are do not have college degrees, yet many do have a formal education. While being a member of this profession does not require higher education, many agents are extremely educated and credentialed. These are most often the ones that will excel in this field, yet I challenge anyone to suggest that formal education is a prerequisite for actual achievement or success in most fields, with the exception of the obvious. (We are talking about service industries here; I am highly optimistic that my brain surgeon will have a few years of college under his belt). Case in point, I have a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. I have a long resume of public and private sector employment, and of sole proprietorship. This is not intended to be boastful; rather to point out that my degrees proved fairly irrelevant in both the practice of engineering and real estate. It is ultimately the quality of the individual and their capacity to learn and apply that knowledge that separates the achievers from the rest of the pack.
  3. Real estate licensing requirements are too lenient. Many like to suggest that, because of this, the industry consists of a bunch of uneducated do-nothings in search of a quick buck. Sadly, in some cases this is all too true. To color an entire profession based on the credential requirements, however, is to label an entire species. Every profession has their stars and their slackers, their ethical and their money grubbers, their competent and their incompetent. I have encountered crummy “professionals” in nearly every discipline over the years, yet I have not sworn off accountants because I once had a mistake in my tax return. Hair stylists don’t have a much harder time than Realtors of obtaining a license allowing them to operate within their trade, yet you had better believe that I don’t use the services of just anybody (last hairstyle being the obvious exception). If your real estate experience has left you with a sour impression, I would suggest you didn’t pick the best representation.
  4. Real estate agents self-promote furiously. Well, duh! We are self-employed and in a service industry where we have one product to offer (and sell) our customers: Ourselves. While you will never see my pixelated mug on a shopping cart or bus bench, I do not disdain those who choose this route; it simply isn’t compatible with my business plan or desired image. I do, however, have my picture on my business cards, my blog, my website, my car magnets and all of my print materials, which for the record, cost me more than the average American earns in year. This is called “marketing”, and if you are employed by another (who takes care of the business development for you), you may never understand it. And by the way, advertising is not a dirty word. My plumber does it, my doctor does it, my dentist does it, and Walmart does it. That is how you drive business to your business. Surviving on past-client referrals alone is a fantasy; clients move, clients die, and, in our case, neighborhoods turn over.
  5. Realtors are not inherently evil, they do not feed on their young, and they do not force people to buy or sell. Believe it or not, we do not spend our days victimizing happy, unsuspecting home owners in an attempt to force a sale, nor do our clients purchase homes at gunpoint who would otherwise have no interest in homeownership. I, for one, lack the super-powers to manipulate free will. It is convenient to blame Realtors from everything from bad loans to bad market cycles to global warming, but in the end we are simply advisers and facilitators. It is not the Nordstrom sales clerk’s fault that the suit I bought last week is now on the 20% off rack, it is not the used car salesman’s fault that I found a car I like better this week than the one I bought last Tuesday (had to slip this profession into the discussion), and my Realtor (no, I don’t represent myself in my own transactions) did not force me to make my last real estate purchase. Let’s all start taking some responsibility for our actions.
  6. All agents are not filthy rich. In fact, most agents make what would be considered by most to be a moderate income. Certainly when you consider the enormous costs, both time and money, and the hours we keep, I believe we are worth every penny. So you could do it yourself? Then have at it. I could represent myself in court and I could self-diagnose my illness, and I could even replace my water heater (with a little help from the Google Gods), but I probably wouldn’t do it very well. My time would have been better spent doing what I do well, which would allow me to pay others to do what they do well. And to those who use the argument that Realtors are not doctors or lawyers (or even plumbers), well of course we aren’t. But if you make this argument as a protest to salaries being on par, I would suggest that life isn’t fair. I’m just one “tall” gene short of being a multi-million dollar point guard for the Lakers. Not fair. So, get your real estate license. No one is stopping you.

We all begin our lives wide-eyed, trusting and respectful. Somewhere along the line we get jaded. Funny that my children (it always comes back to that, doesn’t it?), who have a tendency to find my mere existence an embarrassment of amazing proportions, see me as somewhat of a rock star. Their culture (and their allowance, by the way) involves my car magnets, my picture on the banner at the high school football games, and on and on. So easy to find this embarrassing, and yet they (my self-proclaimed “real estate orphans”) see how hard I work and how seriously and personally I take my business and the satisfaction of my clients. A friend recently asked my 14 year-old if she was going to be a Realtor someday. Of course, she said “no”. I braced myself for the follow-up, expecting the obvious. Yet, when asked why, she replied, “I don’t want to work weekends.” Out of the mouths of babes. So, play nice, you guys.
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    13 Comments so far

    1. Northern Virginia Real Estate Guide November 30th, 2006 1:06 pm

      Kris Berg | A breath of fresh air

      As a consummate (real estate) Mom, she sent both bad boys to their rooms. I say it is long overdue and a breath of fresh air.

    2. [...] It’s pure dead brilliant. [...]

    3. Buzz Saw November 30th, 2006 3:34 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I wrote my own piece about the blog war.

    4. Athol Kay November 30th, 2006 5:01 pm

      ….comments on the post


    5. Phil Hoover November 30th, 2006 5:40 pm

      Hi Kris ~
      Guess your plea for no comments has fallen on deaf ears, so I will join in.
      Thanks for taking the time to write your lengthy post.
      I agree with most of what you say, the exception being your comments about self-promotion/advertising.
      The following isn’t aimed at you personally; it’s general commentary on how too many agents conduct themselves:
      Specifically ~ my physician, CPA, and attorney do not have magnetic signs on their cars and do not run ads boasting that they are million dollar producers.
      And, I have yet to see my physician boast that he was “Doctor of the Year” on his license frames :)
      I wouldn’t dream of driving around with magnetic signs on my car because many of my sellers want me to be discreet as they consider selling their home.
      If we want to be viewed as professionals, we need to act like professionals and stop bragging about ourselves, handing out refrigerator magnets and recipes (duh!), etc.
      It’s the CLIENT that matters; not us!
      Kudos for sending the blog warriors to their room ~ that was the epitome of childish and unprofessional.

    6. Mike Bliss November 30th, 2006 6:32 pm

      This is Buzz Saws fine response to the idiotic and childish responses (especially by Lil’ Keithy-boy).

      Check it out and bookmark Buzz Saw’s new blog, because just like his moniker, this Saw cuts to the heart of the matter!

    7. Mike Bliss November 30th, 2006 6:54 pm

      Phil Hoover makes a point but I would mildly disagree.

      While a doctor, CPA and lawyer(with exception, perhaps, to a real shyster, i.e. crooked ambulence chaser) would never use magnetic signs, I would expect only a carpenter, painter, etc. would to drum up the biz. I live on the east coast of the U.S., and have never EVER seen a realtor with a sign on their car. They use balloons and signs for open houses, waste(in my opinion) business cards on bulletin boards at restaurants and car washes, but here in the east, they are actually considered professionals. Perhaps with the recent housing explosion too many unqualified people have flooded their ranks to make a quick buck, but now that times have turned “hard”, only the PROFESSIONAL realtor will survive, once again cleansing this oft maligned profession.

      I am not a realtor, but I realize their value. I have been mentioned by name and vilified by Keith on his little insignificant site.

      I have used realtors to buy property and used them to sell property. In buying a property I want a realtor that I like to mesh with my easy going personality. In selling, I want a totally aggressive shark. I am pleased by both results and am pleased to pay their fee (which I consider CHEAP).

      Why cheap? Consider being an asshole (like Keith) and either hammering the realtor on their percentage or wanting a discount broker (OR WORSE) a “I sold my house (NOT) dot com”. If the commission I offer is too low, then the BUYERS AGENTS won’t waste their time dragging their clients to my place. I have then just cut 95% of all buyers from seeing my place. This is sales 101, people.

      I sold my condo in a cold market in 6 weeks (to closing). The unit next to me took over 6 months BEFORE and the last one took another 6 months AFTER. I paid a fair comission and I STAGED THE PLACE DAILY. This is rocket science.

      There are ALWAYS buyers in a down market. Do the research, work with your realtor and LISTEN TO THEM AND TAKE THEIR ADVICE. They don’t come to my business and tell ME how to run it, why then do we seem to second guess them?

      I will offer a bit of suggestion to realtors everywhere…join Rotary International or Lions Club. These groups are business friendly and you can get some GREAT FREE P.R. with photos in your local paper of you helping out some great cause, and yes…the papers will print your company name. Think about it. I am a Rotarian and it works for all business.

      Keith is a cub scout leader…but perhaps is all about the little boys sitting on his lap that makes this worth his while.

    8. Christine November 30th, 2006 8:13 pm

      Bravo Kris!!

      Spoken like a true mom!!

    9. [...] If you would like to read her comments (and I strongly encourage you to) you can click here. Filed under: Real Estate   |  By: Allan  |   [...]

    10. Geeski December 1st, 2006 11:57 am

      Once again, amused I am.

      The image problem with real estate professionals is self made, and therefore can only be corrected by the same people. Don’t blame others for your problems, just correct them if you think it is true.

      I am not a realtor, but have used their services for multiple transactions over the last 20 years. I have seen some that are very good, but sadly, most are not. BTW, I have used the same agent myself for the last 14 years.

      I think the fundamental issue of your profession is the lack of education needed to be in the business. It seems half the realtors are divorced women with little or no marketable skills. That was certainly the case with my sister-in-law, who now works at Ikea. Also, there are simply far too many realtors.

      So, quit whining about your profession and do something about cleaning it up. Your actions will speak far louder than words ever could.

    11. david December 2nd, 2006 5:03 am

      I hope the immature greg swann learns from his mistake as he is the one who started the war with the bubbleheads with his unprovoked “masturbation” attack on keith. Then when keith offered a truce in a private email to greg, greg published that email and attacked again

      Makes you wonder about his true motives

      Bravo on taking the high road. Now only if this immature blog host would do the same

    12. Stan December 4th, 2006 2:46 pm

      Was not going to post, but as others did??? This was probably one of the best written retorts to the common misconceptions that you stated above. When, I chose this profession 13 years ago and jumped in full time, immediately upon licensing, it was amazing to me, the views of the public toward the real estate profession. I was really quite shocked by it. Over the years, I must admit I have seen as you mentioned the good and the bad that are in this profession. I must say though that overall, the veterans that remain in this biz are of the highest quality as people and indeed have high ethics and truly put their client 1st, above all else. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! I’m glad I found this through Jay’s blog. Thanks Jay as well. Stan

    13. Kris Berg December 4th, 2006 4:48 pm


      I, too, was staying silent (awfully hard, sometimes). After all, the “no comments” rule was my rule! I agree that we just need to look at those with longevity and success in the field to find the best.

      (And to all of the other rule breakers, I admire your renegade nature!)