A Lot of Shady Characters in Real Estate

Yun on the Housing market at Inman


What a surprising tweet


Thanks to Morgan at Blown Mortgage, I was able to place context to Dr. Yun’s “headline” statement (and suggest that you take the time to watch the whole thing yourselves).

Starting at about 12 minutes in, Dr. Yun says –

“The whole incentive structure is flawed … During the boom … the number of realtors coming into the field … Obviously … you have some shady characters in it …”


The challenge is this; the integrity of the office of NAR economist has been so damaged by Dr. Yun’s predecessor, that picking and choosing when to take the holder seriously presents an enormous obstacle. In this instance, Dr. Yun is absolutely correct.

If we could just get the rest of the Realtor Leadership – from the National to the local level – to publicly recognize this and act to raise entry and continuing licensing and membership standards, we would all be better off. If you feel strongly about this statement, please leave a comment here or hit me up off-line. I’m sitting on a Group at the National Association of Realtors charged with tackling raising Realtor professionalism and would welcome any feedback.

Yun’s admission that his predictions were wrong was refreshing and deserves acknowledgement. Let’s hope he continues on this path.

One thought – God help us, I hope and pray that we learn from this hindsight.

As an aside, I can’t wait to watch the rest of the videos from Inman Connect.



  1. Matt Stigliano

    January 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Jim – I salute anyone who can talk about their own job in this manner. Of course there are “bad apples” in real estate. To pretend there isn’t is ridiculous. For some at NAR to say it out loud…nice one Mr. Yun. I do not agree with those that say we should keep the “bad” behind closed doors. Let’s be transparent and acknowledge our faults…and more importantly, let’s work to correct them.

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    January 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    How credible would our industry look if the public could *see* us policing ourselves and demanding professionalism from our members? Keep the fire lit under them, Jim!

  3. Monika

    January 13, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Oh please YES!!! We need to do something to raise the bar. I’ve been a REALTOR for 24 years and I am ashamed at some of what I have seen fellow (so called) REALTORS do.

  4. Marvin Jensen

    January 13, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Yes, yes, yes, we need to raise the standard to becoming a Realtor! I like an apprentice program for all new agents; one year requirement to work under more experienced agent, and/or a required number of deals to start or continue membership. Unfortunatly, because the NAR is driven by money, they like as many bodies paying as possible, regardless of quality, kind of a conlict of interest.

    Another idea is some type of task force to help the State Association beef up state license requirements as well.

    This is LONG overdue!!

  5. Jim Duncan

    January 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Matt – Thanks. I’ve found that saying “sorry, I was wrong” is a powerful thing.

    Lisa – I think people would be surprised by how relatively few people are involved and how vigorously most want for us to improve our collective reputation.

    Monika – How?

    Marvin – you are absolutely right that there is an apparent conflict of interest – and that’s the subject of another post in the works.

  6. Jim Duncan

    January 13, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    This is a comment I received via email from an anonymous reader. I have say that I agree wholeheartedly with most of it.:

    I don’t find Yun’s statement refreshing. I find it insulting that only now, after everything, as the world becomes more transparent, as the NAR can no longer feed an unsuspecting public and an uninformed membership whatever crap serves their purposes, only now are these persons telling the truth. It reeks of CYA, it reeks of backpedaling, and it reeks of too little too late. Yun had no choice but to speak the truth, did he? He would have skewered with anything less at Inman.

    Yes, I am a reluctant member of the NAR, and this is why, Jim. Why should I/us in the trenches have to hold these people accountable? We pay them to do a job, they should do it without having their feet held to the fire.

    That’s my take anyway as naive or angry or misguided as it might be to most. And I don’t feel comfortable attaching my name to it- which also says a lot about the entire situation…

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    January 13, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! First to Jim for publishing this and second to Dr. Yun. That took GUTS. I’ve been saying this since I entered the industry 3.5 years ago!

    Some of the characters I’ve run into in my licensing class and thereafter made my blood run cold. It was all about “the deal.” Whether it was in the client’s financial interests was beside the point. I turned a young couple away once saying “it is my opinion that you are stretching too far to buy your first home and that you need to scale back and re-examine your needs vs. wants or wait until you’ve saved more money.” Someone asked me why I did that…Answer – I have to sleep at night! The intense competition in our area made the problem worse. Even in the boom there were precious few deals to go around for rookies and even veterans.

    Bottom line: We have way too many dabblers and “shady characters” in this business. One added thought. Many are not new. Some have been around for a very looooong time. Raise the bar – I’ll gladly take more courses to make it go away. Another point – please make the course tough enough to make a “real estate certificate” or degree something WORTH HAVING. You’d have to be a complete moron to not pass the current licensing exam in my state.

  8. Bob

    January 13, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but that doesn’t mean the clock should be relied upon for accurate information.

    Yun’s admission that his predictions were wrong was refreshing and deserves acknowledgement. Let’s hope he continues on this path.

    Too little, too late.

    My feedback for NAR:
    There is no need for a NAR sanctioned Nostradamus. As Realtors, we provide a service – and prognosticating should not be one of them.

    My tweet on the subject –

    @Yun There are a lot of shills in the real estate biz.

  9. genuinechris johnson

    January 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    No, no, no, a thousand times no.

    You the barriers to entry are what caused the bubble.

    Why? Because it short circuits the market. And only LICENSEHOLDERS can market homes. So stoopid.

    This is the dumbest post I’ve ever seen on the RE.NET, and myself have written myself some pretty dumb ones. But this one? The answer to failed socialism is more socialism?

    Heckuva Job, Jimmy.

  10. Jim Duncan

    January 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Chris –

    Thanks for the comment.

    Will you please provide more to this – “You the barriers to entry are what caused the bubble.”? How? What bubble? In agents/Realtors/market?

    Come on now, the “dumbest post ever”? Really?

  11. genuinechris johnson

    January 15, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Was blind with fury at this post.

    Increasing standards to licensure creates fraud, hurts consumers, benefits the cadre of thieves called the NAR, causes bailouts…all at the expense of the public.

    If you had to compete with marketers, and if the public didn’t trust the license process…life would be sweeter.

    If you are taking salary from the NAR, you are stealing by proxy. Congress passes laws that harm the consumer.

    This makes that person a Predator and a thug and a thief. Same with getting the NAR to pass laws that hurt the public at large (i.e. ANY FORM OF THE BAILOUT). ‘Course your salary may depend on things being different. If it doesn’t apply, that’s fine too.

    All I gotta say is creating a cadre of exclusive providers got us into this mess.

  12. Rob Hahn

    January 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Totally off-topic… jeez, Lawrence Yun does look a lot like me.

    If you are really angry at NAR, like say genuinechris, and you see an asian dude with glasses at a convention… please check to make sure you’re punching the right guy.



  13. Matthew Rathbun

    January 17, 2009 at 7:16 am


    Maybe it’s ’cause I didn’t sleep well last night, but your comments started off sounding like Yoda on Crack!

    To everyone else,

    Really, I’ve been on the fence about higher entry barriers. It hasn’t helped the legal profession. I do think that if a person desires to work for another, they need to be accountable, and they need to be trained. The crazy number of legislative entities that oversee real estate make it almost impossible to never make a mistake. In some cases, the laws from one source don’t even agree with another. The laws are vague and open to too much interpretation.

    I do see (and I don’t disagree with this) that in a moderate number of years, that the marketing aspect of real estate will be an unlicensed activity. We’re seeing various real estate boards starting to target more on the giving of council, and less on things such as marketing.

    However, where do those lines get crossed? If I tell a consumer that the marketing I’m doing is great, but their house is overpriced – how do I know? How can I ensure that the marketer’s advice is really in the best interest of the seller and not just to get the seller off his back? How do I prepare the marketer to understand the appraisal process and how to price the home?

    And after all this, what oversight do marketers have? If a marketing person lies to a seller about the best asking price about their house what responsibility do they have?

    Marketing is the least important aspect of real estate. Heck, put it in Postlets and Craigslist and see what happens… It’s all the other aspects that agents MUST DO BETTER in performing.

    The premise that people don’t need a professional to help the process is flawed in that many on the think the consumers spends a lot of time researching and studying how to sell or buy a home. The majority of the consumers are not, at all, prepared to do this without some consultation.

    What I can’t get in my mind is if this is the chicken or the egg? Did consumers become reliant on agents, because agents already existed?

    I speak from the experience of telling many clients its not in their best interest to sell or buy… Some of them decide to do it anyway and then end up being foreclosed on. It’s hard not to say “I told you so” and I could only have told them so, had I studied and learned how to counsel people.

    I fully disagree that this is the dumbest post on I’ve seen some posts that spend a lot of time using terms they found from their “word of the day” rss feed to do nothing but perpetuate their narcissistic turmoils unto others. Others, who are simply sharing their opinions or thoughts. “Cyber-bullying” and “flaming” is far more “dumb” than putting out a thought for others to debate in a professional manner…just saying.

    (To lani: Old GGGGGGGGGGG!)

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