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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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