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Real Estate Implosion, Lawyers, Realtors & Disintermediation – Oh My.

0000036548_20061218145010.jpgThe cool thing about lawyers is that even though they compete with one another, they understand the basic reality that business is there for the taking. Rarely can you walk down a street in America and not find someone divorcing or guilty of a crime. The best thing about lawyers is that even though they get a lot of ribbing about being this and that (not generally polite) they’ve never been guilty of eating themselves alive publicly- meaning, you rarely see them out publicly bucking the system. They have an understanding that the systemis what affords them a lifestyle and a profession, regardless of how twisted the perception of it is.

Realtors on the other hand (we’re not lawyers) have very much the same dependencies and lately have very much the same reputation as lawyers. Insane as it may sound, we’ve recently been compared to car salesmen and we’re even accused of being the devil in some cases, and having spun millions into subprime disaster, single-handedly causing a real estate bubble with our cat like commission skills– hell, we even set the fires in California to spark future growth! I kid. It was just a kid and matches I hear, but hey, he’s probablya future Realtor if you ask those that wish to disintermediate us from the transaction.

The truth is, the only thing Realtors are guilty of is playing into the less than 1% of 1% of 1% that would call free agency a trend. Realtors are guilty of playing into mass hysteria created by a public relations campaign created by a certain discount business model. Realtors are guilty of the thing lawyers already understand- s*itting where you eat is probably not a good idea.

The perfect storm against our chosen profession is this- we’ve always thought the other guy’s services to consumers sucks, and we spend big money saying just that. The genius in the PR campaign waged by our fishy competition plays on that vulnerability and honestly, I see a lot of hysteria in the marketplace because of it. We had a guest commenter here last week that said we were complaining about the end of the profession, but the reality is- it’s simple self defense, another mechanism used as a vulnerability in the game to weaken the position of the membership (NAR). Although, as quiet as the membership is, and as clumsy as it still remains, the collective membership matters not to the profession. The hysteria created by those seeking rankings and comments on a blog, or to score points with the pissed off of the real estate consumer is a gift to them and no one else.

I think maybe folks might want to take a look at how and where lawyers compete- it’s in the courtroom, not in the court of public opinion. They get up ever day, notwrite a blog, and they pass up the hype by those who would say lawyers are vultures and march into the courtroom and lay it down in no uncertain terms why they’re valuable. Their personal reputations are what drives the most successful, the ones you never see at midnight offering to bail you out on a DUI.

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Yes, I think Realtors could learn from the blood-sucking lawyers out there on how to handle negative press and attacks on their profession. We could learn a thing or two about how to be gentlemen and where to duel , and just so you know- that’s not in the court of public opinion… just because one Realtor, market or PR campaign is bad doesn’t mean the entire industry is. Comparatively, because one lawyer is an ambulance chaser doesn’t mean the entire BAR is chasing them too- and the only lawyer that would ever be guilty of saying it to be so would be the guy on TV at midnight offering you midnight DUI representation.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    November 7, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    I don’t see lawyers getting on the internet and giving all of their knowledge, information and strategies away. I don’t see them grovelling, begging or arguing their worth. I don’t see them undercutting their pay to stay in business.

    Really interesting post. I have to think about it some more.

    BTW Boston Legal is my favorite show.

  2. Benn Rosales

    November 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    by your comment, you got my point.

    We never miss Boston Legal- Tuesday is a great day, always.

  3. Mariana

    November 8, 2007 at 2:43 am

    If we truly believe we ARE worth our salt, we WILL be worth our salt. The ones who aren’t are the ones that are the weak links in this profession. And it shows.

  4. Joshua Ferris

    November 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    The barrier to becoming a lawyer is also quite a bit higher than it is for real estate. Real estate has yet to shed its “grandma” image of being something for older people to do to occupy their time and stand alone as a legitimate industry. Good agents are worth their pay and then some but the people who are in the business to occupy themselves because they are bored or to do part time for extra cash are the ones dragging down the industry. I’ve never seen anyone go to law school for 7 years just to make a little extra cash part-time.

  5. Mitch Argon, Reno Real Estate

    March 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Very good post. I’ll take it a bit further. Because the real estate profession has done so many silly things for so long (sending out recipe cards, walking future seller’s dogs, and a myriad of other things to win “social favors”), we have conditioned the consumer to think that these are the essential services of a real estate agent.

    Low barrier to entry. Perception of easy money. NAR promoting more realtors (i.e. more dues $$$ to spend on supporting the brand) versus earnestly putting in programs to raise the bar (i.e. less dues means it will never happen) and this is what you get.

    At some point (long from now), this business may be about service and not salesmanship (and a lot of the nonsense that goes with it).

  6. Jacqui Richey, Las Vegas Real Estate

    May 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Perception is reality and the sooner agents remember that, the better. We need to change perception in order to change reality. DENNY CRANE! I think the NAR could do more by enforcing its own rules and removing members that don’t follow them.

  7. Fort Lauderdale Mortgage

    July 24, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with mitch and great post by the way. I worked as a real estate agent many years ago and adding a bit of extra service never hurt.

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