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Business Marketing

What Have We Done?

realtorlogoHas the poor reputation of the real estate industry created the consumers’ insatiable need for knowledge and information about buying and selling homes?

I know it’s the information age, but we’re standing around naked. We’ve given the public access to everything we’ve got. Realtors used to be the keepers of the information. Now we’ve given it all away. The data that I pay for, the memberships, the classes, the ongoing education, all of that information is available across the www. Consuming and understanding all of it is another thing; buyers and sellers – and of course, those thousands who got their licenses to become the next Trump – try to absorb that galaxy of data. But it’s all there for the taking. How many clients have you worked with that have confidently told you how to write an offer?

In my client interview I ask what experiences they’ve had, if any, with a real estate agent. Has a friend told them of any experience they’ve had? This past weekend is one of the few times I’ve heard a consumer say, “I really like the agent that sold my house. We became good friends and talk every week or so.” Most often, their eyes light up with delight to tell me their uncle’s cousin’s brother bought a lemon and is still in litigation.

My lawyer client and I had a discussion today about who’s lower on the food chain: Realtors or attorneys.

We decided it’s used car salesmen.

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By allowing under-qualified, unprofessional agents into the community we’ve allowed them to make us appear to be bottom suckers. There are no real requirements to take the exam. When I took it, the exam hadn’t been updated in years. There was a formula: If the question is X, the answer is C. If the question has Mary Jones in it, the answer is B.

Once the exam is passed, there’s no on-the-job training or apprenticeship. When I was green, I went to my broker, scared to death. “What do I do? How do I do it?” He said, “Go find a client. We’ll tell you what to do.” “WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding me.” At least I had the brains to know that I didn’t know squat and I needed to find out before I took someone’s savings and advised them to buy 3-Mile Island.

The NAR is so proud to tout that there’s 1 billion sold. Quantity doesn’t equate to quality. How about half that number of educated, qualified, professional, knowledgeable, caring, trustworthy, honest individuals.

Every time I see a Realtor advertising as caring, trustworthy, and honest, I have to laugh. If your client can’t figure that out on their own, your telling them isn’t going to make them believe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the next marketing blow-out from NAR – especially after “Real estate is our life.” I can see it now: One billion Realtors. We care. We’re trustworthy and honest too!

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Written By

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate



  1. Daniel Rothamel

    October 16, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Transparency is the answer to the problem. That is why blogs like this one, yours, mine, and the like are such good things. The more people know about the real estate industry and REALTORS, the better informed they will be to make decisions on the REALTOR that best meets their needs.

    The only reason slimy or incompetent agents have been allowed to prosper is because the public didn’t know any better, and those agents controlled the flow of information. The game is beginning to change, thankfully.

  2. Lani Anglin

    October 17, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Vicki, these are all great points- I especially like the McDonald’s allusion. You’re right, there are so many that jump on the scene that have no business to, but who do you feel is responsible for curing this problem- NAR or Brokers?

  3. Vicki Moore

    October 17, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    I would have to put the responsibility on a governing body; NAR being the most likely. They could make a sweeping change effective quite quickly.

    Some brokers have stepped up to the challenge. My office has extensive training available. But because we are independent contractors, we can’t be forced to attend. It seems the agents who need the most training are the ones who elect not to participate.

    I like Daniel’s point. I love blogging. It’s been the best thing to ever happen to my business. I’m really alarmed that there’s a chance that I’ll be shut down or “complianced” out of the scene.

    Should we say “class action suit?”

  4. Nicole Mills

    October 18, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Great post, Vicki! I’m glad I stumbled across it. I’m still a newbie blogger, but am reading and learning more everyday. I just wanted to say “Amen” to your comments about the lack of training, and just as importantly, the current inability to prevent the influx of even more fish(e) Realtors in to this over crowded river. The standards for becoming licensed (at least in my state of MN) are a joke, never mind the fact that the instructors of the licensing classes feed you the answers to the exams, because God forbid they not be able to pass everyone that happily forks over their $$$! That might reflect poorly on registration for future classes. And they wouldn’t want word getting out that you might actually have to rely on your own ability to think to get you through. Honestly, I think the recruiters of the big companies are in cahoots with the licensing prep class folks, because the recruiters seem to reel them in as fast as they can be turned out.

  5. Vicki Moore

    October 18, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    My brokerage grew to 12 offices by holding a mirror under the noses of applicants. We’re back down to 7 since the fallout.

    Blogging is addictive. Only one warning – remember you still have to prospect!

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