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Advertising Vs. Reality

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This time of year NAR advertises and promotes the idea of using a Realtor.  It is working because some days I do feel used.  The local real estate companies also have advertisements on TV and on billboards around town,  promoting the idea of using their Realtors.

In every advertisement I have seen Realtors are wearing suits.  Woman Realtors are always wearing skirts with their suits.  They are shown with their clients, who are always well dressed,  and viewing some remarkable piece of real estate.  My own experiences in real estate have been a bit different than the advertisements.

I do own suits and I wear them when I need to dress up.  I have been know to run home and change into a suit before presenting an offer.  I don’t need to wear a suit to show houses and often it is best that I don’t.   Sometimes I have to climb ladders or go down into dank dirty basements.  Other times I have to walk muddy lots , or construction sites where hard hats are required.  Wearing the wrong shoes or cloths can greatly limit my ability to do a good job.

Yesterday I trudged through knee deep snow.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I had been wearing a skirted suit and some high heeled pumps like the women in the ads. As it was I fell into a snowbank as I was leaving the home. Had I been wearing cloths like the women in the ads wear it would have most likely ended my day.  I was able to continue on to my next appointment with out missing a beat.  Would my client have taken me seriously if I had shown up all dressed up to go out into the woods in the snow to look at a vacant home?

I can’t think of any time any of my clients have ever been dressed up when we go out looking at homes.  I encourage them to dress comfortably and to wear shoes that can easily be taken off and put back on.  People like to dress comfortably and my clients just don’t look like the people in the pictures I see in the ads.   Most employers in my home town have adopted a more business casual type of dress code.  The attorneys and bankers dress up but the engineers and software developers do not.  The doctors and nurses from the local hospital do not wear formal business attire either. I don’t think I would ever show homes while wearing a suit jacket, skirt and high heels.

When I look at the images in the advertising they look wooden and stuffy, as does my own photo in the recent Realtor Magazine article.  I know the pictures I see are just advertising, and that women are not portrayed well in any kind of advertising,  but I think it would be great if Realtors were portrayed as real people who look just like everyone else. I would rather dress more like the people that I have contact with, and dress for success so that I can make it up and down the steep latter or across the muddy lot.

I can’t identify with the skirted suit wearing realtor in the ads.  She doesn’t represent me and I almost resent seeing her picture all over the place.  It isn’t the image I want buyers and sellers to have in their heads of what a good agent looks like.  Realtors are not all formal and stuffy, some are more like the rest of the population, informal, friendly and real.

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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78 Comments

78 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    March 23, 2008 at 7:27 am

    ditto………dress for your area. Good reminder to tell buyers to wear shoes that they can take off and on. It slows down the showing when everyone is wearing boots, but sometimes we have too.

  2. Kevin Sharkey - IBR Broker

    March 23, 2008 at 7:52 am

    As a fellow Minnesota agent I shouldn’t have to remind you that former Governor, “Spendy Wendy” Anderson, ( under pressure from OSHA ) made it illegal for outdoor employees to wear anything other than winter-appropriate attire in the course of their duties. He specifically addressed real estate agents in this grouping.

    Proper attire consists of hats with flaps, down-filled coats that make you look like the Michelin Man, choppers for your hands, Thinsulite snow pants and mukluks. I have seen pictures of you in your winter wardrobe, and you comply with the law in true Minnesota fashion.

    So here is the real issue. Not only is NAR not capable of representing what we are and how we look, they have put us at odds with the law (at least in Minnesota). Once again, their interests prevent hard working agents from protecting themselves from dangerous elements. Is it is more important to look “professional” or to protect one’s keister from a snowbank?

    Many are cold….Few are frozen.

  3. Toronto realtor

    March 23, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Teresa, you claim that you can’t identify with the skirted suit wearing realtor in the ads. I must admit, it’s a cliche used to promote their services, but advertising loves cliche, in order to attain an “Ideal”. Sometimes, authors tend to create a controversal campaign, by offending one group (old/young) or they exclude a group of consumers (fragrance for man). It’s pretty obvious, NAR bet on the clear message – we are smooth operating professionals, you can trust us with your money. I wouldn’t feel ofended by this campaign, and even though it’s the realtor’s skills that count a suit brings certain credibility to the person, Does it? What do you think guys?

  4. Teresa Boardman

    March 23, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Toronto Realtor – I get what you are saying but they also glamorize the profession. I know it is just advertising but I still can’t identify with it.

    Kevin – I don’t all that often get to dress the way I am dressed in the picture, I kind of compromise.

    Missy – sometimes, like here for four months out of the year.

  5. Bill Lublin

    March 23, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Teresa:
    I understad your thought process regarding the business casual that is more normal in the buisness these days, even though I spent a huge amount of time dressed in a suit through my years as a real estate agent and broker, but I do think that Toronto Realtor makes a good point he/she/it points out that the NAR advertising is to promote a message regarding the professionalism of its members (you included) – and without taking a really long time for the ads (a cuple of hours maybe?) we can’t get across that message verbally as well as we can visually-

    Kevin: I love “many are cold .,,few are frozen”, and with that being said, I sure hope that the rest of your comment was dry humor and not a serious statement regarding NAR’s ability to represent us – with over 1 million REALTORS, no one picture can express the diversity that we all bring to the prfession, but if we’re going to have a single picture projected to the public – a well dressed individual whose poise and attire speak to the smooth professional service that we all strive to provide – I’m OK with that – even though I would look really silly in a skirted suit (I have great legs, but the hips might be a little to much:-) !) And a question about propert attire in Minnesota- do you need to wear the mittens with the string across your shoulders (so you won’t lose them?)

  6. Teresa Boardman

    March 23, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Bill so how it is what we wear that determines how professional we are? I meet most of my clients over the internet. they can not see me at all but seem to assume that I am professional, maybe they just picture me in a suite like in the ads. I consider our local fire fighters to be very professional yet I have never seen one of them in a suit. I know that I can trust them with my life and the lives of my family. no doubt in my mind what so ever.

  7. Kevin Sharkey - IBR Broker

    March 23, 2008 at 10:27 am

    @ Bill. Mittens with the string are mandatory until agents achieve Broker status.

  8. Brian Columbus

    March 23, 2008 at 10:35 am

    If the stereotype is a charcoal gray pinstripe suit, then you’ve got plenty of choices to make yourself unique. Your choice of breaking out from the pack and going casual may give you authenticity in your market. It reminds me of back in to early 1980’s when mexican food was just becoming popular. Everyone thought authentic mexican food was Pepe’s because Taco Bell was fast food. I don’t think I ever saw a single Mexican American in either chain. My point other than to admit I like mexican food?

    If you’re looking for customers that appreciate authenticity and recognize that a good agent doesn’t have to wear the suit, going casual (when appropriate) is probably a good thing. They’ll think of you as a person and not just another Suit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybD0KeBaK_M

  9. Sean Purcell

    March 23, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Teresa,

    Thoughtful post. I think we miss the point, however, when we discuss how the agent in the ad looks and how little that resembles any one of us in real life. The key is the clients and you said it yourself:

    They are shown with their clients, who are always well dressed, and viewing some remarkable piece of real estate

    The clients are well dressed and the property is remarkable. The point of most large budget marketing is to attact us by portraying our dreams to us. One of the five major emotions to play to in advertising is the commonality of our dreams. The ad has two audiences: potential clients who want to imagine themselves dressing up, meeting with a knowledgeable, punctual and attractive agent to look at affordable, turn-key properties with all the amenities AND members of the audience who are contemplating joining the exciting ranks of real estate agents. Again, the portrayal suggests that by becoming a REALTOR you too will experience pleasant, well dressed and qualified clients while being the only agent to show the prefect home priced below market.

    This stuff may seem silly to those in the trenches every day, but it works. Within my company (real estate training/coaching) my partner and I often have a similar conversation. We will be getting ready to lauch some type of new marketing piece and he will say, “I don’t like it. I wouldn’t buy based on that ad.” To which I must always remind him: “That’s great… because we are not selling to you!”

    Theresa, the ad is not selling to you. You have already bought. 🙂

  10. Sean Purcell

    March 23, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Bill,

    Your point on NAR is well taken but hardly helpful. I speak only for myself here but I don’t think the public has a very high ideal currently of the real estate profession. A few ads here and there portraying a well dressed individual whose poise and attire speak to the smooth professional service that we all strive to provide is no more convincing than the deep voice-over telling me I will attract beautiful women in bikinis if only I drink the right beer.

    What would be helpful is if the NAR decided to step up and take a proactive role in policing the industry. Less of a cheerleader and more a version of the NASD for real estate. Relevance and importance stem from the perception that a high level of ethics is not only sworn to… but enforced. Being a REALTOR can and should have real meaning with the public. But the lackluster, uninspired and coddling nature in which the NAR operates suggests more of a trade group and in fact has led to the public’s general inability to distinguish between agent and REALTOR.

  11. Bill Lublin

    March 23, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Teresa: How they picture you is exactly the point – When you mention firefighters, my mental picture is of someone in full firefighting gear (maybe with heroic smoke smudges on their face) or like the firefighters raising the flag atop the rubble of the World Trade Center on 9/11 – Its these images that advertising uses – which has nothing to do with your actual attire- I would rephrase Sean’s comment (while spelling your name right 🙂 ) Teresa, the ad is not selling to you, it is selling the public so that you have the opportunity to earn their trust by doing the job right

    @kevin – I am so proud that Minnesota has a responsible brokerage policy!

    @Sean: I may be a little sensitive about your comments regarding the Code of ethics having served as Professional Standards Chairman for the Greater Philadelphia Association of REALTOR numerous times, twice as the Professional Standards Chairman for the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS, Vice Chair of the Professional Standards Forum for NAR, Professional Standards Vice Chair fo NAR in 2007 and currently as the 2008 NAR Professional Standards Chairman. Oh, and did I mention that I have been an Instructor in Pro Standards since being certified as such 10 years ago? But I have to point out that NAR has taken a proactive role in policing the industry for 100 years – from the first meeting in 1908 where 120 people met “to unite the real estate men of America for the purpose of exerting effectively a combined influence upon matters affecting real estate interests.” to the first Code of Ethcis adopted in 1913 (well before real estate license laws had been adopted by most states), to the most recent changes to the code of ethics adopted in November 2007 to the last meeting of the Interpretations and Procedures Sub-Committee of the Professional Standards Committee just last weekend (where Jim Duncan and Liz Luby came in to discuss the impact of blogging and electronic communications on our industry).

    The members of NAR and the State and Local Association Grievance and Professional Standards Committees have donated an immense amount of time effort and thought to creating, refining and enforcing the Code. Until you have the opportunity ot serve on a Professional Standards Panel or have appeared in front of one, I think it is unfair to typify the Industry’s efforts in that direction as lackluster, uninspired or coddling – In fact, if you were to violate the Code and appear in front of any of the panels I have participated in or observed over the past years, I think your perception would be very different.

    When you talk about being proactive, bear in mind that we are proactive in that any memer can bring a complaint against anyone who is doing something they percieve to e in violation of the Code. So when a member or consumer to bring to the attention of the organization any percieved violation of the Code – at which time it is reviewed by staff, the complaint (not matter how ill or wel founded) is then turned over to a grievance committee (which acts in a grand jury capacity), and then if the complaint would (if taken as true) consititute a violation of the Code, the complaint is sent to the Professional Standards Committee, a Professional Standards hearing convened/ . After appropriate procedures are followed which assure due process, if the individual is found guilty of a violation of the code an appropriate sanction or combination of sanctions may be applied – Though often the very act of appearing in front of a Professional Standards Panel is amazingly wearing on the respondent.

    To facilitate this process, NAR provides Professional Standards Training in Chicago every August, and many State and Local Associations provide similar training for their members I had the pleasure of teaching two such courses for the New Jersey Association in January of this year, a course on Procuring Casue for the Monmouth County Association of REALTORS, as well as teaching a course entitled “Pathways to Professionalism” at the Century 21 International Meetings in Orlando all of which indicates that NAR and other industry organizations are very concerned with this process.

    Being a Coach/Trainer instead of a REALTOR might explain your unfamiliarity with this important piece of the NAR legacy, but I would encourage you to check out the new videos NAR has developed about the Code https://www.realtor.org/law_and_policy/code_of_ethics/coev_introduction.html
    or this pdf of an article written about the code called a Gift of Visions written in 1978 by William North https://www.realtor.org/files/law_and_policy/the_realtors_code_of_ethics_a_gift_of_vision.pdf
    I would hope that you might enjoy them and increase your understanding of the process –

    And finally ,you should also understand that while the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are written and modified by NAR (through the good efforts of the 100+ members of the NAR Professional Standards Committee each year) they are then implemented by the State and Local Associations and the thousands and thousands of members who chair and serve on their professional standards and grievance committees and hearing panels throughout the country- To say that they are less then vigorous in their enfocement of the code is not only untrue but inappropriate. At least IMHO –

  12. BawldGuy Talking

    March 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Sean — Thanks for nothin’ bud. You just told me all that Sam Adams in my fridge is a waste. 🙂

    And by the way, Sean met with me Thursday and came wearing a coat and tie. I immediately change my view of him, generated in previous meetings. 🙂

    In my travels around the country I’ve learned there are places where a suit will actually hinder my chances of success. I’m thinking Teresa’s area might be one of them. She knows her area.

    It’s my guess RESULTS are what brings glamour to what Teresa brings to the table for her clients — not her designer coveralls. 🙂

  13. Patti Herrington

    March 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Teresa….great post….you are so right about showing houses…never had anyone show up in a suit
    Patti Herrington
    Madison MS Real Estate

  14. Teresa Boardman

    March 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Hey I actually do wear a suit when I need to and I know when I need to. Suits work fine in my market but are a bit pretentious for day to day business situations. When over dressed I feel like I am sending out a message that I am better than everyone else.

    Kevin – if I could find my mittens I think I would opt for the string. i set them down when I go in houses and keep losing them. Getting my brokers license didn’t help either.

  15. BawldGuy Talking

    March 23, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Bill — I am a Realtor — I’ll have been licensed for 40 years in just two more Octobers.

    The local Board brings Sean in to teach Realtors online skills. He’s no pup to be talked down to, like a parent scolding his errant eight year old. You remind me of the old men my father used to beat like drums — Board Presidents for whom ethics meant following the party line.

    Your language and demeanor here are laughable.

    Over the years I’ve learned what the prototype Realtor is — I’m second generation — and you certainly represent that prototype well.

    Condescension becomes you. The irony is, you’ve become a caricature of yourself.

  16. Bill Lublin

    March 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Teresa; If you think I indicated that what you wear makes a difference I apologize – I know that what you do is way more important- Glad you could use the string tip though 🙂

  17. Bill Lublin

    March 23, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    @bawld
    You and I are in a race to reach the 40 years in practice, and we get there about the same time, so other then proving that we’re about the same age I don’t get your point. And while Sean may be a well qualified instructor to teach online skills to REALTORS, that doesn’t qualify him to make a condescending comment like “What would be helpful is if the NAR decided to step up and take a proactive role in policing the industry.” without demonstrating that he has some knowledge of what’s being done,by the men and women who spend their time trying to improve the industry.

    There is a part of me that appreciates loyalty, so you’re coming to Sean’s defense is understandable, perhaps even laudable (though I am sure that Sean could mount a coherent and articulate response of his own- maybe even acknowledging new information if I provided him with some) but your comment does nothing but lose my respect after that. Other then pointing out a fact – that Sean is not in the real estate business, I don’t get where I was condescending – do you believe that his consulting business has somehow involved Sean in the details of the Code of Ethics or the ongoing process of Professional Standards? And my loyalty does extend to the people in our industry who work so hard and care so much about “getting it right” that they spend their own time away from their families and businesses to make the process work and to continue to try to improve it. So what do you do about that other then criticize?

    While I don’t know who “old men that your father used to beat like a drum” were, nor exactly what that means, you certainly don’t seem to have what it would take to do that with me. Your being a second generation REALTOR holds little water with me -I don’t feel at all inferior being first generation – it just means that I needed to earn my place in the industry through my own efforts (which you may also have done) – both in business and as an industry volunteer- just like so many of the other participants in these discussions. I don’t think there’s a REALTOR gene that gets transmitted through the generations, and being an SOB (son of a broker) doesn’t give you any special privileges or knowledge as far as I’m concerned – I have more respect for the 37+ years you’ve been in the business (we’ve obviously grown through some of the same recessions) then I do for some accident of birth or your father’s choice of profession. And if you are active in your local association or your state association or NAR, my respect for you increases, because you’re obviously doing something more then complaining about what others do or don’ t do. But I don’t think you’re in any position to tell me that I believe that ethics means following some party line – or frankly to tell me anything about what I believe or who I am. In fact, I think that condescension may be the only place I’ll take a back seat to you. (And I’m pretty sure you’re not real active in your local state or national association since your web site misnames all three of them – otherwise not a bad site though -)

    And Jeff – in the future, If you want to enter into any discussion on a point where we disagree, I’ll be glad to do so – and I’ll be glad to keep the conversation on topic – and not about personalities 😉

    @sean
    If I was condescending in my comment, I apologize – it was not my intent, but the Code of Ethics, its growth and implementation are something I feel very passionate about. I hope that the comment shows you that there are a large number of people in the industry who are working at making it better – and again, if I was inappropriate, I apologize – I never like being rude unintentionally – only on purpose >:-)

  18. BawldGuy Talking

    March 23, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Bill — I stand by what I said.

    >And while Sean may be a well qualified instructor to teach online skills to REALTORS, that doesn’t qualify him to make a condescending comment like “What would be helpful is if the NAR decided to step up and take a proactive role in policing the industry.” without demonstrating that he has some knowledge of what’s being done,by the men and women who spend their time trying to improve the industry.

    He, or anyone else in the business for that matter, doesn’t need to gain your blessing to give their opinion based upon their own observations. I’ve never served on anything to do with NAR — am I qualified to agree with Sean’s opinion? I’ve watched since before I was licensed, and nothing much has changed. The ‘guardians’ of ethics in this town finally ‘let’ Dad into the Board after three feeble attempts to force his hand had failed miserably.

    >So what do you do about that other then criticize?

    So only those who’ve worked for boards have the right to criticize? I beg to differ. I’ve been forced through the blackmail of MLS membership to pay due to the local board for decades — so you’re damn right I’ll criticize you or anyone else I choose. I’ve not been getting what I’ve been forced to pay for.

    What I do is what folks needing a real estate pro want — I produce results in an honorable manner. I’ve been doing that since day one.

    >While I don’t know who “old men that your father used to beat like a drum” were, nor exactly what that means, you certainly don’t seem to have what it would take to do that with me.

    You want to know? I’ll tell you.

    Three times these pillars of the real estate community came to him because he wasn’t a member of the local board. In reality they didn’t give a damn whether he belonged or not. What they DID care about was the fact he sold more homes than the 6-8 of them combined X 10. They included the current president (back then) three past presidents, and a few other board execs.

    When Dad refused to join the MLS, thereby agreeing to split his commissions with them 50/50 — they withdrew their offer of membership.

    The third time they tried this, Dad threatened them with the lawsuit they eventually lost, later on in the 1970’s. They collapsed like the impotent bullies they were, and Dad instantly became a member of both the local board AND the MLS — cooperating at a 90/10 split.

    Guess who got 10%? 🙂 Ethics my ass.

    Those were the ‘old guys’ he used to beat like drums. And if it had been you in the group, nothing would’ve changed, don’t you agree? I thought so. Those guys tried and failed three times to use their power to force an honest businessman to join their club — which he did, but much to their everlasting chagrin.

    I knew many of those men, and was asked many times not to repeat that story locally. At least they had the upbringing to be ashamed.

    >Your being a second generation REALTOR holds little water with me -I don’t feel at all inferior being first generation – it just means that I needed to earn my place in the industry through my own efforts (which you may also have done) – both in business and as an industry volunteer- just like so many of the other participants in these discussions.

    Geez Bill, I thought since you spent almost 150 words trying to impress Sean nearly to death with all the offices you’ve held past & present, I thought the mention of being second generation was being modest by comparison. 🙂 I never expect anyone to grant me anything other than what I’ve earned. I’ll leave it to others to let you in on what I may have earned a right to say.

    >And Jeff – in the future, If you want to enter into any discussion on a point where we disagree, I’ll be glad to do so – and I’ll be glad to keep the conversation on topic – and not about personalities 😉

    Bill, when you get off your condescending high horse, and realize nobody needs your blessing to criticize NAR, we’ll get off personalities. When folks treat us like that, we tend to stand up and roar back.

    As Dad used to say — “When these guys are challenged they pretty much begin spouting their own lofty ‘qualifications’ which means they don’t have much to say of substance.”

    I’ve earned my right to criticize — even without spending more than a few hours in the local board office since ’69.

    When they start walking their talk, maybe the public will also show a little respect.

    And finally…

    >I don’t think there’s a REALTOR gene that gets transmitted through the generations, and being an SOB (son of a broker) doesn’t give you any special privileges or knowledge as far as I’m concerned – I have more respect for the 37+ years you’ve been in the business (we’ve obviously grown through some of the same recessions) then I do for some accident of birth or your father’s choice of profession.

    SOB? You’re damn right — Son of a Brown — and proud of it.

    Dad taught me his own brand of ethics — he had far higher ethical standards than those who ‘recruited’ him, all of whom were officers of the local board.

    I cut my teeth on ‘board ethics’ Bill. It left a bad taste in my mouth. And what I’ve observed since then hasn’t changed my mind much.

    But I guess that’s exactly what Sean said, wasn’t it?

  19. Bob

    March 23, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    What would be helpful is if the NAR decided to step up and take a proactive role in policing the industry. Less of a cheerleader and more a version of the NASD for real estate. Relevance and importance stem from the perception that a high level of ethics is not only sworn to… but enforced. Being a REALTOR can and should have real meaning with public.

    Sean, I would like to see this as well.

    But the lackluster, uninspired and coddling nature in which the NAR operates suggests more of a trade group and in fact has led to the public’s general inability to distinguish between agent and REALTOR.

    That is because they are a trade group. And as much as Bill and others would like to believe, the Code of Ethics is a joke because enforcement is a joke. As a result, public perception is generally that NAR is a joke. It’s a shame because the NAR lobby is the homeowners best friend. The public doesn’t see that though. Maybe NAR should shift their ad campaign to explain to the public what NAR has done for them in Washington and state capitals across the country instead of telling the public that they should go buy a house.

    Bill, you and Jeff have me lapped when it comes to time in the trenches, but I have been around long enough to know first hand of what I speak. My first lesson where i learned the uselessness of the local Board came 18 years ago and the continuing education hasn’t stopped, as I see agent after agent and broker after broker lie and cheat and the local boards stick their heads in the sand. A few board presidents have been among the worst offenders. Enforcement at the local level is compromised simply by the fact of the vested interests of those who serve. Make a non-member lawyer head of the grievance committee and maybe you’ll have some neutrality and unbiased enforcement. Until then, it’s the fox guarding the hen house.

    The question I have for agents is what is it that you want? A self-serving trade group with more inane ads, or a regulatory and/or oversight group that will serve the Realtor better by serving the public better?

  20. Larry Yatkowsky

    March 24, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Bob,
    Ultimately if you are doing your job within the confines of the ethics mantra then the lastr part of your statement is the one that rings the bell. We and the consumer will benefit with this governance.
    This coversation of ethics and business practise has and is gathering strength during the last 10+ years. My concern is that sadly, there are some among us who use this lack of authority to continue with the “I’m alright F… you Jack” attitude. It’s an unfortunate postion to take as opposed to “we ( the realtors and the consumer) will all do better if we abide.” IMO this is true professionalism.
    From the glass half full perspective I don’t see this happening during my tenure. I do however, applaud those who continue to fight the fight.

  21. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 3:24 am

    @Jeff:
    You may stand by what you say, but that doesn’t make it right – and the point that I made, and you reinforce is that an opinion with without subject knowledge has less validity than one with knowledge of the truth- some moron may have the opinion that men are better then women and that one group is racially superior to another , but that doesn’t make that opinion right- I never questioned his right to have an opinion, just the validity of that opinion -and I certainly have the right to a different viewpoint. I agree with Evelyn Hall who wrote” I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” and I wish you wouldn’t make statements on my behalf that are inaccurate.

    So only those who’ve worked for boards have the right to criticize? – Actually that is not an acurate portrayal of what I said- IMHO if you are a member of a group, you have a responsiblity to make the group better. If you choose not to, I believe your right to criticize is diminished – How is any system or industry to get better if all of the participants take the position that you have in your statement?- you don’t like what is being done and won’t do anything to make it better, but want to sit on the sidelines complaining about what others do. Its like being a member of a tribe and not wanting to raised the crops of hunt for the food or prepare the food, and then complaining that you don’t like the food that the tribe eats or how its prepared-

    Your story about your Dad is a little incomprehensible to me- I don’t know what the motives of the Board was that didn’t want him to join then did want him to join and other then feeling your anger at the situation and your being proud that he wanted to make an uneven offer of compensation when he joined the local MLS, I really didn’t get the point you were trying to make. I will however take exception to your taking a position on my behalf – I don’t care who joins the MLS or not, and what they offer in terms of compensation, nor can I even take a position in the events you recount without a much clearer understanding of them. I will tell you that a good friend of mine , a past President ofour local board has never been a member of the MLS, doesn’t want to, and never needed to be (he sold and still sells a huge amount of real estate practicing in his own way) and still has ben an important and contributing member of our association as well as a good friend and collegaue – so once again, don’t assume you know anything about me based on your prejudices against some people you fell treated your father poorly – Unlike you, I prefer to have all the facts before I form an opinion about something-

    Dad taught me his own brand of ethics — he had far higher ethical standards than those who ‘recruited’ him, all of whom were officers of the local board.
    – So basically you think that his message was that everyone should have their own brand of ethics and be responsible to no one? That seems to be the exact opposite of the position Sean took – In fact I agree with him that the Code needs to be enforced vigorously, not that everyone should have their own brand of ethics- after all even the guys in the KKK think they’re right –

    I cut my teeth on ‘board ethics’ Bill. It left a bad taste in my mouth. And what I’ve observed since then hasn’t changed my mind much.
    Then why not get involved and do something ? Oh, that’s right its much easier to complain then it is to fix things –

    But I guess that’s exactly what Sean said, wasn’t it?
    No, that’s not what Sean said – his criticism was that NAR should take a more proactive role – and while I agree with him that we as an industry need to police ourselves, my comment was to show Sean that there is more being done then he might give NAR credit for-

    Bill, when you get off your condescending high horse, and realize nobody needs your blessing to criticize NAR, we’ll get off personalities. When folks treat us like that, we tend to stand up and roar back. –
    I never said anyone needs my blessing to criticize anything – but I don’t need anyone else’s blessing (especially yours) to have and articulate my own opinion -and there’s no US here – this conversation has been between you and me – one that started because you didn’t like an opinion that I had or the way that I expressed it – so if you have no content other then your anger at the Association officers from your father’s day, and no positions other then “My father’s board treated him poorly, I can complain about whatever I want, and I don’t need to particpate to criticize”, then I guess you’ll have to grasp at whatever tactics you can find-

  22. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Bob;
    I agree with your sentiments and I would only hope that when you find bad people doing bad things you jump on them with both feet – no one is exempt from the Code regardless of the offices they may have held – I agree that the more we do the better we get – and that we have the need to police ourselves – but I would respectfully suggest that the answer is to get more people on those panels without a particular axe to grind – and you wold be one of them – (and from your comments you would bring a considered and well thought out position to the job of panel member – what a potent combination )

  23. lake mary florida remax

    March 24, 2008 at 5:14 am

    This is the problem with marketing photo’s they portray the idealic picture in there minds. Thats why so many teens become anorexic and belimic over print media and being a size 0-3. Dressing nice is a personal preference and unfortunately it does make a nice impression when someone does. I lived up north years ago and in snow country and wore suits and skirts and you wear boots with them and carry shoes for indoors. Most all woman do the same. I think Gen X & Y have embraced this casual lifestyle and are bringing it into the workplace. Sometimes a suit jacket over many outfits can achieve that professional look.

  24. Teresa Boardman

    March 24, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Great conversation.

  25. Teresa Boardman

    March 24, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Mary – you bring up a point that I did not address in the post and that is that there are many things that can be worn besides dark skirted suites that do look professional. You bring up another point too, are we keeping up with the times when we cling to our dark suits as the kind of model for how we should dress or are we coming off as old and stogie?

  26. Aria Schoenfelt, Austin Real Estate

    March 24, 2008 at 9:20 am

    I’m with you all the way! When I first became a Realtor, I made a big deal over what to wear. I tried many old-school professional outfits but was never comfortable. How can I best serve my customers and clients when I’m spending energy worrying about my clothes! No, now I wear nice, pressed, dark jeans (I am and have always been a blue jean baby) with a nice buy subtle shirt. It’s my own professional style and I’ve found that I get many more compliments dressed as myself than the image of what I thought a Realtor should wear.

    I too have skirt suits but can’t remember the last time I’ve worn one. They are just not modern enough for this forward-thinking woman!

  27. Sean Purcell

    March 24, 2008 at 10:12 am

    WOW!

    Turn the computer off for a little Easter time with the family and one can miss a lot.

    Bill, I will take some time to read all of the comments and watch the video you linked to and then I believe I should like to mount a coherent and articulate response

  28. BawldGuy Talking

    March 24, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Bill — The board didn’t like the fact Dad was selling 1,000+ sides yearly without being a member of the MLS. They came to him, he didn’t come to them, ‘cuz he didn’t need them and they knew it. All they wanted was a piece of his pie. He had no obligation, legally, ethically, or morally to allow them into his wallet. Once they figured out he wasn’t gonna buy into their ‘ethics’ they folded.

    NAR has never taken to that attitude well. They need to be in our wallets. The MLS can exist without NAR — NAR can’t say the same thing with a straight face.

    >IMHO if you are a member of a group, you have a responsiblity to make the group better.

    Geez, Bill, does that bromide still apply if all the members have been forced into membership?

    >Your story about your Dad is a little incomprehensible to me

    Of course it is Bill. The fact remains, it’s a true story. There’s already been another commenter here saying pretty much what I have. Are his experiences ‘incomprehensible’ too?

    >- So basically you think that his message was that everyone should have their own brand of ethics and be responsible to no one?

    Nice try, Bill. Every man is responsible for his own ethical behavior. I don’t know about you, but my set of rules didn’t come from NAR, but rather from a much higher source. It’s the one where you choose what you believe and join what you want to join of your own free will.

    How many members would NAR have today without force?

    Sean said NAR should take a more proactive role in enforcing ethics. Why do you think he said that Bill? Everyone knows NAR would blow away without the MLS. So let’s stop playing pretend here, ok?

    Asking agents to pretend they’re members of your organization as a result of exercising their own free will is not working any longer. It was a fraud from the beginning. Telling them they have an obligation to make an organization better, when they were coerced to join in the first place is as commendable an example of double talk as I’ve ever seen.

    The Emperor has no clothes.

    This conversation has value only in the sense NAR members are reminded why they joined in the first place. Even supporters feel uncomfortable talking about this aspect of their own organization.

    You’re right, Bill, we can agree to disagree. But let’s not continue the fantasy of an organization of a million members when we both know the only reason they’re members is because of financial coercion.

    I’ll let others continue this — it’s not worth any more of my time.

  29. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Sean- I am more than convinced that you will have a coherent and articulate response – 🙂
    It is amazing what a little wardrobe chatter can grow into isn’t it? 🙂 Sorry you had such a surprise when you came back- I hope you enjoyed your family time – those are,IMHO the most valuable times we have-
    On a more pleasant note – I left the computer to watch John Adams on HBO last night 🙂 Don’t you just love that Paul Giamatti?

  30. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Teresa;
    Back to the original thread – what do you think about careerware or logoware? Too Mickey D’s or a good casual alternative? And thanks for putting up with all the drama on your original posting 🙂

  31. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Jeff – The story about your Dad was incomprehensible not because I didn;t want to understand it but because your explanation wasn’t clear – From the first paragraph of your last comment, I think I might understand it better, but I still don’t understand why he would join the group if he was so succesful and he didn’t want to be in the MLS or want to subscribe to the code of ethics- And just for clarity, NAR doesn’t own “the MLS” In fact in my marketplace we had non Realtor Multiple Listing Bureaus long before the Greater Philadelphia Association had an MLS (which then gave way to a Regiopnal MLS where the organization is a stand alone business) And people of great success can certainly exist without the MLS – Even considering the benefits of MLS membership, frankly, no one forces you into membership – though you ignored my earlier statement, one of the most succesful practioners in our city, a man who has been recognized nationally for his professional achievements is a REALTOR without ever being a member of the MLS – though he did serve as an Association President, and has been an RPAC trustee for many years – so I would imagine that there are other succesful and professional people who see the value in the organization and participation even without the MLS –

    And not to muddy up your argument with too many facts, NAR started in 1908 – way before there was such a thing as the MLS – and certainly can exist without the MLS – as it did for many many years –

    >This conversation has value only in the sense NAR members are reminded why they joined in the first place. Even supporters feel uncomfortable talking about this aspect of their own organization.

    I don;t need to be reminded – I first joined the REALTOR movement in the 1970s because I believed that they were a professional group that advocated for me and the consumer – we were working on anti-graffittie programs and literacy in the schools, as well as working to represent local real estate practioners in municipal and state legislations. As my involvement grew I started working on grievance and pro standards because I believe that as Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”. And to reiterate, there was no Association ownd MLS at that time, so based upon my own experience, I believe that NAR and the local associations would still have members who want to improve the industry even without the MLS – Perhaps not you, but that would be your choice –
    .
    You might also note what Bob said yesterday ” the NAR lobby is the homeowners best friend. ” and the Industry’s best friends as well – and that advocacy is of benefit to practioners all across the country-

    And yes, if you’re going to be part of the group -which is a voluntary group even if you feel you joined because you can’t exist professionaly without being part of the group (though I would point out that no one held a gun to your head – you made a decision)- you have an obligation to do more than complain if you think there’s something wrong- When I was in school as a child, I didn’t have a choice about attending school, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t part of that community with the obligations any community member should have.

    And I saved the best for last –

    >Nice try, Bill. Every man is responsible for his own ethical behavior. I don’t know about you, but my set of rules didn’t come from NAR, but rather from a much higher source. It’s the one where you choose what you believe and join what you want to join of your own free will.

    I agre with you that the source of personal ethical behavior comes from roots that are far deeper then any trade organization, but that doesn’t mean that an industry as large as ours doesn’t need some agreed upon set of standards of professional behavior- and that is what the Code of Ethics is about -and in order to assure due process there needs to be certain safeguards in place, again agreed upon by the group- and that is what we’re talking about here, your hyperbole notwithstanding- though in fact, I wonder what an ethical individual such as yourself would find contentious in the 17 articles of the code –

  32. Daniel Rothamel

    March 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

    This is kinda funny to me, since I love to get dressed up. I’ve got half-a-dozen pair of cufflinks, for chrisakes. It really boils down to your clientele and your own personality. Some of my clients expect a person to wear the suit-and-tie, others, not so much. I actually had a client who forbade me to wear my suit-and-tie to the closing. She wanted to see what I looked like it jeans. I told her I would wear jeans, but I still wanted to wear the tie. 🙂

    When I played baseball, I had a coach who was obsessive about having all of our cleats shined. It became a pre-game ritual for the team. I’m just as obsessive about shining my dress shoes and my officiating sneakers. I have always subscribed to the belief that– when you look good, you feel good, when you feel good, you play good.

    It’s just that everyone’s definition of “looking good” is different, and that’s okay.

  33. Bob

    March 24, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    NAR started in 1908 – way before there was such a thing as the MLS – and certainly can exist without the MLS – as it did for many many years

    I bet that if you took a poll of the NAR membership, most would only associate NAR with control of the MLS. They don’t understand the value because they don’t know it exists. The message got lost somewhere between Lereah being wrong every time he spoke and ads about agents in skirted suits (or the worst of all time – “Real estate – it’s our life”). I’m a history buff, as well as an info and political junkie, so I frequently see things differently than most agents I know. But even my patience has been tested to the breaking point.

    NAR has lost it’s compass. Take away the MLS and I doubt they would exist. We’ll find out soon enough though as the DOJ isn’t done, and since NAR can’t help but keep stepping in it, they will lose control of the MLS sooner than later. If they do that and 50% of the membership decides not to re-up, do you think NAR would still be viable? At best it would cause them to focus on core competencies and leave the image building to us.

  34. Sean Purcell

    March 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Teresa,

    My apology for spelling your name incorrectly. While it was inadvertent, I never-the-less believe it is the little things that show respect in a public discourse. Getting the spelling right on a name is one of those little things. Also, I appreciate your comment Great conversation as it did get hijacked a little. As I said in the beginning: Thoughtful post.

  35. Sean Purcell

    March 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Bill,

    My point was and continues to be that the NAR does a poor job of creating the perception that its members are professional and somehow distinct from real estate agents. I believe I said that in the very first post. This is due to many things, but by far the biggest reason is that the vast majority of agents are REALTORS. This is not a choice really. So the NAR becomes a trade group whose priority becomes its own growth. This is not a sinister knock on the NAR so much as recognition that all organisms have as their primary drive the desire to live. This applies to government, unions and trade groups as well as PTAs and little leagues. It is neither good nor bad, but must be recognized.

    We currently work in an industry with a very low opinion rating. Rectifying that perception, IMHO, should be the single focus and purpose of the NAR at this time. Instead we get commercials encouraging people to buy homes. Bob touched on this nicely when he said:

    the Code of Ethics is a joke because enforcement is a joke. As a result, public perception is generally that NAR is a joke. It’s a shame because the NAR lobby is the homeowners’ best friend. The public doesn’t see that though. Maybe NAR should shift their ad campaign to explain to the public what NAR has done for them in Washington and state capitals across the country instead of telling the public that they should go buy a house.

    My example of the ideal (also mentioned in my first comment) is the NASD. You do not see pandering commercials from the NASD (now called FINRA but I will continue to use the old name for sake of familiarity) suggesting that people should invest. That is the type of trade group thinking that causes the NAR to lose its credibility. (BTW, I am listening to the Barry’s on RealEstateRadioUSA.com right now and they are discussing the fact that the NAR is fighting to keep REALTORS from having to disclose the proximity of sex offenders. There may be a good reason for this, but as credibility goes…)

    In your initial comment to me, after naming the many, many committees you have served admirably, you describe the grievance process as if to counter my point. The fact that there is a process does not mean it has any teeth. In fact, I have seen this process more than once. Usually it involves a personal issue between two REALTORS and one makes an unsubstantiated claim against the other. As you know and stated the complaint (no matter how ill or well founded) is then turned over to a grievance committee (which acts in a grand jury capacity), and then if the complaint would (if taken as true) constitute a violation of the Code, the complaint is sent to the Professional Standards Committee, a Professional Standards hearing convened (emphasis mine), which is to say they do not rule on the likelihood of prevailing but only whether or not the complaint describes an actual violation. You go on: in fact, if you were to violate the Code and appear in front of any of the panels I have participated in or observed over the past years, I think your perception would be very different. And you continue: Though often the very act of appearing in front of a Professional Standards Panel is amazingly wearing on the respondent. Not a surprise given the fact that anyone can lodge a complaint and everyone must then go through the motions. This is not what I mean when I say the NAR should stop coddling their members.

    In this same comment you suggest that being a Coach/Trainer instead of a REALTOR might explain your unfamiliarity with this important piece of the NAR legacy. I was first licensed as a real estate agent in 1987. I allowed it to lapse when I received my Series 7 and became a stock broker. I went on to become an options trader on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. I eventually moved back to sunny San Diego and reacquired my license six years ago. I was, of course, a member of the NAR originally and am now (do I really have a choice?). I am relatively well versed on both the NAR and the NASD. For the past few years I have been involved with the mortgage field (which, by comparison, makes the Real Estate profession look positively golden) as an ardent proponent of transparent lending and eliminating the black box mentality so prevalent there. I have only recently begun to open up my real estate practice again, as one cannot ethically do mortgage and real estate well at the same time. I have also begun coaching agents and originators . Based on this experience, I believe I am well qualified to compare the NAR & NASD as well as comment on ethics. You ended with: to say that they are less then vigorous in their enforcement of the code is not only untrue but inappropriate. Bill, truth is always a defense. I have witnessed the enforcement as less than vigorous, as I am sure many agents have. Truth is never inappropriate.

    Later, in response to Jeff, you characterize as condescending (a) comment like “What would be helpful is if the NAR decided to step up and take a proactive role in policing the industry.” I beg to differ. That is simply an idea. Condescension would look more like a suggestion that the people in our industry who work so hard and care so much about “getting it right” that they spend their own time away from their families and businesses to make the process work and to continue to try to improve it have wasted their time given the dismal results… but I do not engage in condescension. I believe you enjoy that tone, however, despite your apology. For instance, you say:

    opinion without subject knowledge has less validity than one with knowledge of the truth- some moron may have the opinion that men are better than women and that one group is racially superior to another,

    in effect equating the expression of those that disagree with you to being racist and sexist. Later you even work this gem in: after all, even the guys in the KKK think they’re right. Now that is condescension.

    Bill, you quote Evelyn Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” but I have difficulty believing you. Shortly after this grand gesture you say …if you are a member of a group, you have a responsibility to make the group better. If you choose not to, I believe your right to criticize is diminished. How can you defend to the death my right to say something when you believe that very right is diminished? Herein: a major portion of our disagreement. You take quite a bit of pride in the people who work hard for the NAR and the time they dedicated. Rightfully so, but you also seem to equate that contribution with the validity to criticize. I do believe – and commented on a post here at AgentGenius regarding the non-sense issue of the “MLS in a URL” debacle NAR is currently involved with – that you play by the rules when you join the game. I am a member of the NAR and so I play by the rules, whether I agree or not. Criticism, however, is an art form and an important aspect of growth in any organism. Show me a person who says you must be acting positively within a group before you criticize the group, and I will show you someone fighting a losing battle with their fingers in the dyke.

    You can ask

    how is any system or industry to get better if all of the participants take the position that you have in your statement?- you don’t like what is being done and won’t do anything to make it better, but want to sit on the sidelines complaining about what others do?

    A valid point if membership were not required (and please do not point out the technicality – all agents join de facto to access the information they need). In a free market the answer to your question is this: if everyone who was unhappy sat on the sidelines, the NAR would no longer exist. I watched the video you linked to in your comment. It was difficult to finish through all the cheerleading – which was also my original point. I did take at least one thing away from watching it though. The history of the NAR, according to the host, began over a century ago, and came about because of “rampant land speculation,” “consumer exploitation” and “disorder.” “It was buyer beware.” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We now have rampant home speculation, consumer exploitation (read: dual agency – an NAR sanctioned position that is so unethical I cannot begin to describe it all here) and the disorder of meaningless licenses. After 100 years I proffer this: the NAR has not fulfilled its mission. The fact that I write about it rather than act on it makes the point no less valid.

  36. Teresa Boardman

    March 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Sean – no worries, it gets spelled wrong so often I can’t catch them all.

    Daniel – I don’t mind getting dressed up, but I had to do it every day for 20 years or so. I think I like having choices and flexibility in just about everything.

  37. Bill Lublin

    March 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Sean,
    I knew you would have a coherent and articulate reply ?
    >My point was and continues to be that the NAR does a poor job of creating the perception that its members are professional and somehow distinct from real estate agents. I believe I said that in the very first post. This is due to many things, but by far the biggest reason is that the vast majority of agents are REALTORS.
    I can’t find anything that you say here to disagree with- In “growing up in the business our marketplace had a very large Non-Realtor Trade Association, so I probably have that “old habit” thinking in my responses but I do think (without knowing) that the vast majority of real estate practitioners are REALTORS today, and I agree you make a valid point.

    >So the NAR becomes a trade group whose priority becomes its own growth. This is not a sinister knock on the NAR so much as recognition that all organisms have as their primary drive the desire to live. This applies to government, unions and trade groups as well as PTAs and little leagues. It is neither good nor bad, but must be recognized.
    Again no argument – it seems like a million years ago that I tool a course in Political Sociology – and the one thing that sticks is that all organizations first promulgate their own growth –

    >We currently work in an industry with a very low opinion rating. Rectifying that perception, IMHO, should be the single focus and purpose of the NAR at this time. Instead we get commercials encouraging people to buy homes.
    Again I agree, and there was a series of commercials informing the public about the Code of Ethics just a short time ago – If I had the only vote (or I suspect if you and I were both to vote) the emphasis would be on that though I do get a little tired of the over the top negative media too – in our marketplace even the media is starting to beat on the media about the bad press (but we have a different market then in California, Arizona, Nevada or other states)

    >Bob touched on this nicely when he said: the Code of Ethics is a joke because enforcement is a joke. As a result, public perception is generally that NAR is a joke. It’s a shame because the NAR lobby is the homeowners’ best friend. The public doesn’t see that though. Maybe NAR should shift their ad campaign to explain to the public what NAR has done for them in Washington and state capitals across the country instead of telling the public that they should go buy a house.

    Here I have to respectfully disagree – I don’t see the Code as a joke, and I don’t think either of us can pretend to really know what Consumers think about it because our own experience colors our reactions – As an example for a number of years I manned a consumer helpline run by our association, and many of the Consumers I spoke with were either looking for protection through the Code or were pleased when they learned of the Code – You may have other experiences which indicate other Consumer experiences, but it’s a really big position for either of us to take I think.

    >My example of the ideal (also mentioned in my first comment) is the NASD. You do not see pandering commercials from the NASD (now called FINRA but I will continue to use the old name for sake of familiarity) suggesting that people should invest. That is the type of trade group thinking that causes the NAR to lose its credibility. (BTW, I am listening to the Barry’s on RealEstateRadioUSA.com right now and they are discussing the fact that the NAR is fighting to keep REALTORS from having to disclose the proximity of sex offenders. There may be a good reason for this, but as credibility goes…)

    Again, I don’t think I disagree with the points you make about whether there is a more effective direction for NAR advertising, and I really can’t comment on a show I haven’t heard about an issue I’m not really familiar with-but I agree with you that advertising that is obviously self-serving has little or no impact

    >In your initial comment to me, after naming the many, many committees you have served admirably, you describe the grievance process as if to counter my point. The fact that there is a process does not mean it has any teeth. In fact, I have seen this process more than once. Usually it involves a personal issue between two REALTORS and one makes an unsubstantiated claim against the other. As you know and stated the complaint (no matter how ill or well founded) is then turned over to a grievance committee (which acts in a grand jury capacity), and then if the complaint would (if taken as true) constitute a violation of the Code, the complaint is sent to the Professional Standards Committee, a Professional Standards hearing convened (emphasis mine), which is to say they do not rule on the likelihood of prevailing but only whether or not the complaint describes an actual violation. You go on: in fact, if you were to violate the Code and appear in front of any of the panels I have participated in or observed over the past years, I think your perception would be very different. And you continue: Though often the very act of appearing in front of a Professional Standards Panel is amazingly wearing on the respondent. Not a surprise given the fact that anyone can lodge a complaint and everyone must then go through the motions. This is not what I mean when I say the NAR should stop coddling their members.

    I think that I may have been unclear in making this point – the Grievance Committee doesn’t investigate- they just determine if the complaint would be a violation of the Code if taken as true – for example a buyer that complains that the seller’s agent got a high price for the seller is not a violation even if it is true – the seller’s agent was merely doing their job – And what I referred to as wearing was appearing before a Professional Standards Panel – and I say that because in my experience many of the agents who violated some aspect of the Code did so from a lack of knowledge rather then from some malicious motivation. And I have to say that in my experience, there are fewer unsubstantiated claims made by one member against another – but that is probably a function of the specific local association, and I really think is moot to a discussion of the process – but that is just my opinion, and I can only relate to my experience with my local associations and my State association – not what gets done at every local meeting.

    >In this same comment you suggest that being a Coach/Trainer instead of a REALTOR might explain your unfamiliarity with this important piece of the NAR legacy. I was first licensed as a real estate agent in 1987. I allowed it to lapse when I received my Series 7 and became a stock broker. I went on to become an options trader on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. I eventually moved back to sunny San Diego and reacquired my license six years ago. I was, of course, a member of the NAR originally and am now (do I really have a choice?). I am relatively well versed on both the NAR and the NASD. For the past few years I have been involved with the mortgage field (which, by comparison, makes the Real Estate profession look positively golden) as an ardent proponent of transparent lending and eliminating the black box mentality so prevalent there. I have only recently begun to open up my real estate practice again, as one cannot ethically do mortgage and real estate well at the same time. I have also begun coaching agents and originators . Based on this experience, I believe I am well qualified to compare the NAR & NASD as well as comment on ethics. You ended with: to say that they are less then vigorous in their enforcement of the code is not only untrue but inappropriate. Bill, truth is always a defense. I have witnessed the enforcement as less than vigorous, as I am sure many agents have. Truth is never inappropriate. –

    Here I have an apology to make – jumping to your web site to see who you were, I was unaware of the depth of your background and I spoke from that ignorance- making the point that, as I said in response to Jeff “opinion without subject knowledge has less validity than one with knowledge of the truth.” My opinion of your background was obviously less valid since I was unaware of the truth. And that is not ‘in effect equating the expression of those that disagree with you to being racist and sexist.” It’s just creating an opinion without knowing the truth (Which I once more apologize for)

    >Bill, you quote Evelyn Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” but I have difficulty believing you. Shortly after this grand gesture you say …if you are a member of a group, you have a responsibility to make the group better. If you choose not to, I believe your right to criticize is diminished. How can you defend to the death my right to say something when you believe that very right is diminished?

    To me this is simple – my defending your right to say something doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to have my own opinion of the validity or of the weight of that position. It does mean that I respect your right to make the statement –which I do. That’s why I used the qualifier “, I believe” in that statement.

    And I think that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear when I talk about contribution or participation. For example you say “Criticism, however, is an art form and an important aspect of growth in any organism. Show me a person who says you must be acting positively within a group before you criticize the group, and I will show you someone fighting a losing battle with their fingers in the dyke.” I agree with you completely, and I think that well thought and articulate criticism creates an important voice for that organization. My point was that voices such as that have greater impact on the group from within. Please don’t think believe that I am any less passionate or contentious about a disagreement in an association meeting then I might be here 😉

    You also say “that you play by the rules when you join the game. I am a member of the NAR and so I play by the rules, whether I agree or not. “ A principle with which I agree and which engenders a great deal of respect from me.

    I do have some disagreement with a statement you make a little later in the comment “if membership were not required (and please do not point out the technicality – all agents join de facto to access the information they need). In a free market the answer to your question is this: if everyone who was unhappy sat on the sidelines, the NAR would no longer exist.”

    My membership in NAR started way before access to the information was an issue, and I believe that neither of us can speak for everyone else in the industry – For as I personally know literally hundreds or thousands of people who would join to be a REALTOR were the MLS not an issue, I’m sure you know as many who would not join if access to the information were different – Here I would have to say we each see part of the picture, and each viewpoint is neither correct nor incorrect – just different perceptions based on our personal experience. I hope you might agree.
    Now here comes the rub – there are a couple of paragraphs in your comment that are actually part of my response to Jeff’s positions, which were not the positions that you and I are discussing, and to take them out of context doesn’t contribute to the discussion that we’re having here – Jeff ranted and I ranted back in kind, and you have been too much a gentleman for that sort of nonsense here- I feel that I adequately responded ot his attacks and I’m sure he felt he did the same.

    Finally, you write “The history of the NAR, according to the host, began over a century ago, and came about because of “rampant land speculation,” “consumer exploitation” and “disorder.” “It was buyer beware.” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We now have rampant home speculation, consumer exploitation (read: dual agency – an NAR sanctioned position that is so unethical I cannot begin to describe it all here) and the disorder of meaningless licenses. After 100 years I proffer this: the NAR has not fulfilled its mission. The fact that I write about it rather than act on it makes the point no less valid.”

    Again, we have much in common in our thoughts – but we have a half full and half empty glass situation – I see that NAR helped states establish license laws, advanced fair housing, assisted in getting important legislation passed, advanced the Code, and established our business as more of a profession, while you see the issues that NAR has not yet resolved or maybe wrong turns you think NAR has taken – and I agree with you that there are many unresolved issues, but would point out that NAR has not fulfilled the mission because the mission is constantly changing and evolving – it’s a never ending process –

    So now I come to the last comments – those important closing remarks
    • If I was condescending to you, I apologize (and I refer you to my earlier point about opinions without knowledge – mea culpa)
    • Thank you for taking the time to check out my point of view – that you made that effort is gratifying and immensely appreciated.
    • Thank you for taking the time to respond as you have – demonstrating that this arena is one of open discourse with a free exchange of ideas that can be passionate with being vitriolic.

    We may not agree on every point, but I believe that we both have a desire to see the industry improve. I look forward to more conversations and should the occasion arise, I would be pleased and honored if we could meet in the real world some day so I can buy you a drink or a meal or maybe both and hear more of your thoughts 🙂

  38. Sean Purcell

    March 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Bill,

    We may not agree on every point, but I believe that we both have a desire to see the industry improve.

    We may agree to disagree on some points, but we both agree on your last one.

    Thanks for providing an opportunity to think and clarify…

  39. Jay Thompson

    March 24, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    “… frankly, no one forces you into membership…”

    Sure they do. If I want MLS access in my association, I have to join the NAR.

    Voluntary my ass.

  40. Bob

    March 24, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Bill, I have one question for you that is gnawing at me.

    Do you believe that NAR is correct in their stance on the use of the acronym “MLS”? If yes, then why, as part of the COE, is it’s implementation situational and a matter of choice by each local board as to whether or not it should be enforced? Doesn’t this case of “situational ethics” further erode the value of the Code?

  41. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 5:48 am

    @Jay – But that’s a business decision – of course most people choose to join the MLS, its a great tool. But one of the most succesful REALTORS I ever met (and a man who received national recognition for his sales achievements) has not been an MLS member since he opened his firm (he might have worked for a company that belonged to the MLS at one time very early in his career – I’m not sure about that)- he just became the go-to guy in his market – in fact his company today is very succesful and still does not choose to participate in the local MLS- even though he is a Past President of the local association and has been an RPAC trustee for many many years as well as a substantial RPAC contributor. You can check out his web site at http://www.allandomb.com – so yeah – even though I get the point that you’re angry that you feel you were compelled to join to gain access to the MLS (though I make that statement based on your representation and with no knowledge of your MLS by-laws) because the MLS is an important part of your business model, membership is still voluntary, and not the only way to success in our business if its really a problem for you to be a member. –

  42. Jay Thompson

    March 25, 2008 at 7:44 am

    @Bill –

    Come on. It’s a real stretch to say anyone can be successful just because you can point out ONE person who has been successful and not joined their MLS. Take a poll and I’ll bet you get something like 99.999% who say you have to join the MLS to be successful in real estate sales. (at least for now. That may be changing, and I’ll bet some up in Chicago and DC are quaking in their boots)

    Good for Mr. Domb. He doesn’t need the MLS. I can show you about 1,400,000 that do need it. And since I can’t get MLS access unless I pony up a check to the NAR, then I struggle with the claim that my NAR membership is “voluntary”.

    Break the lock the NAR has on these “volunteer” members and see how many REALLY volunteer to join.

    What else about the NAR is a value add for me? RPAC? Methinks they would gladly accept a check from me if I were not a Realtor. The COE? I don’t need the NAR or anyone else (with the possible exception of my wife) to tell me how to act. Data? There is plenty of non-NAR related housing and industry data out there. Public perception? Ha. First, regardless of the NARs need want and desire to separate REALTORS from “real estate agents” the fact is Joe Q. Public doesn’t know or care about the difference. REALTOR = real estate agent to them, and let’s face it — the public perception of either is not-so-swift. NAR has done nothing to improve the perception of Realtors in the public eye.

    Other than MLS access, give me a compelling reason to join the NAR.

  43. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Allan Domb is probably THE exception to the rule. I know one Pru agent who is continually in the top 3 nationwide who sought to replicate Domb’s business model and couldn’t. I doubt any one else could do it either at this point.

  44. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 8:53 am

    @ Bob – So you’re saying that Allan is the exception that proves the rule? 🙂

  45. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 9:10 am

    No, I’m saying Domb is an anomaly, and duplicating what he has done in dominating Philly’s Center City condo market for decades is not going to happen again sans MLS membership. Today he is the primary developer in that area. Making any comparison to Domb and the ability of the average agent to survive without the MLS is laughable.

  46. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 9:35 am

    @Bob
    Allan and I were both sales agents when he started out and the MLS was no less important to that market then it is to the market today – and I have known him for over 30 years (since we met receiving Sales and Listing Awards from the Association)- so with that intimate knowledge of the man I can make this statement with some confidence – If Allan Domb were to open his company today, I believe he would do exactly the same thing with exactly the same success- he is where he is because of who he is- and even more important is that he chooses to be an active and engaged REALTOR- with no additional incentive

    As I said he’s not the only one I knew who chose not to be an MLS member and ran a succesful business – my favorite one was a guy who ran a company called Herbie’s Real Estate – (most significant because his name was Sid – and there was no Herbie involved with him or his business) He ran a small but profitable company for many years until he died. I also used him for years when I taught fair housing because he hated everyone – thereby complying with fair housing requirements that everyone be treated equally

    I’m certainly not going to convince you not to be angry if you feel compelled to belong to your local association, nor do I mean to suggest that you shouldn’t be a member of the MLS – I’m just suggesting that your premise that you can’t make a living without the MLS may not be completely accurate

  47. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 10:09 am

    @Jay-
    I only pointed out one person though there are others in the business in our market who are not REALTORS and some who are not MLS members, and some who are only one or the other (not all MLS organizations require MLS membership) –
    However let me respond to your other points-

    While RPAC would probably accept a check from a Non REALTOR , without the local state and national associations, there wouldn’t be any RPAC to give the money to- In my city our Association fought an illegal transfer tax increase, got restrictive legislation banning “sold” signs removed, fought laws aimed at prohibiting the display of “for sale” signs, participated in a law suit with the Land Title Association revolving around recording issues in Philadelphia, fought a state law which would authorize a lien on a landlord’s property for bills incurred by their tenants- and that’s a sampling of things that come to me off the top of my head and doesn’t begin to address the state or national issues. Then there are the Federal Housing and Federal Taxation Committees, the Risk Management Committee, the Associations and Institutes that provide the designations like CRS,CRB,GRI and others (and I took the courses, learned from them and benefit from the ongoing work of these groups) and lots of other committees working for the good of the consumer, our industry and our individual businesses.

    Personally, though my wife serves the same function in my life as your does in your life, not everyone in the industry has those magnificent resources 🙂 but the argument that we have strong moral compasses could extend to a rationale that we don’t need laws either – since we are both ethical men who know what the right thing is and how to do that right thing- I just don’t believe that is enough in the real world. There are people who do the wrong thing because they don’t know better, and some who do the wrong thing because they don’t realize there is a different way to approach the problem, and there are even some people who do the wrong thing because they are malicious (though I believe them to be in the minority) so maybe things like laws, and regulations, and the Code are good things to have so that the way is a little clearer for people who intend to do the right thing (and before you make the argument that having laws and regulatory agencies obviate the need for the code, I can tell you that having been in front of government agencies and judges with their own preconceptions and institutional or personal agendas, I’m OK having my case heard by my peers based on a set of rules developed by people practicing in the industry)

    Another tangible benefit of membership created by the Code is Article 17 (the only article in the code dealing with money) which addresses arbitration between REALTORS – That right to arbitrate instead of litigate will save you lots of money in legal fees as your business grows and flourishes and the inevitable disputes arise over the years- (I saw from your web site that you opened your company in February this year – Congratulations and Best Wishes!) Further, in many areas there is Association sponsored broker to broker mediation, adding yet another dispute resolution process which saves thousands upon tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees over the years. In Pennsylvania (and some other states) , we also have DRS mediation (developed by NAR and adopted by PAR) which is a consumer centric mediation program – where the buyer and seller agree to mediate rather then litigate if there is a dispute between them as a result of their real estate transaction – those programs alone have saved me and my agents way more then the cost of our dues fees over the 25 years we’ve been open- and I can tell you that my agents have shared with me on more then one occaision that they feel comfortable knowing that there is a place to go when there is a commission dispute that is not easily resolved –

    So while I don’t know what would be a compelling reason for you to do something, I think there are lots of good reasons to join a trade association – and this trade association in particular – but as I have said a number of times, I joined before the MLS was an issue, and if that went away tomorrow, I would still be a member because I see these and other benefits

  48. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Bob;
    I feel like instead of “Dancing with the Stars” I am about to begin “Dancing with Landmines” 🙂 but I think I need to point out that there is no Article of the Code or Standard of Practice which prohibits the use of the term MLS- There is a recent case study in which an example of the misleading use of the term is found to be a violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics – It is this case study which has generated a lot of controversy

    Article 12 has, for years, obligated REALTORS® to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public. It wasn’t clear – at least to some – how the true picture mandate related (if at all) to domain names and URLs. The additions of Standards of Practice 12-10 and 12-13 provided needed guidance both to REALTORS® and to associations of REALTORS®.

    The Standards of Practice interpret and explain the ethical duties embodied in the seventeen Articles of the Code of Ethics.

    Standard of Practice 12-10 provides:
    REALTORS’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS from:
    1) engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites;
    2) manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result; or
    3) deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers. (Adopted 1/07)

    At the 2007 annual Convention the NAR Professional Standards Committee adopted Case Interpretation #12-20: Misleading Use of “MLS” in URL. The new case became effective upon publication on REALTOR.org following the Annual Convention reading:

    REALTOR A, a residential broker in a major metropolitan city, spent several weeks each year in his cabin in the north woods where he planned to retire one day. Even while at home in the city, REALTOR A stayed abreast of local news, events, and especially the local real estate market by subscribing to the print and on-line editions of the local newspaper. He also bookmarked a number of north woods brokers’ websites to stay current with the market and to watch for potential investment opportunities.

    One evening while surfing the Internet, REALTOR A came across a URL he was unfamiliar with – northwoodsandlakesmls.com. REALTOR A was pleased to see the MLS serving the area where he vacationed for so many years had created a publicly-accessible website. Clicking on the link, he was surprised to find that the website he was connected with was not an MLS’s website but instead was REALTOR Z’s company website. Having had prior dealings with REALTOR Z, REALTOR A spent some time carefully scrutinizing the website. He noted, among other things, that the name of REALTOR Z’s firm did not include the letters MLS.

    REALTOR A sent an e-mail to the association’s executive officer asking whether REALTOR Z had been authorized by the association to use the URL northwoodsandlakesmls.com and whether the association felt it presented a true picture as required by Article 12 of the Code of Ethics. The association executive responded that their association did not assign, review, or approve URLs used by their members, but added that if REALTOR A felt a possible violation of the Code of Ethics had occurred, the appropriate step was to file an ethics complaint. REALTOR A did just that, alleging in his complaint that when he clicked on what appeared to be a real estate–related URL that included the letters “MLS” he expected to be connected with a website operated by a multiple listing service. He stated he felt that REALTOR Z’s URL was deceptive and did not meet Article 12’s true picture test.

    At the hearing, REALTOR Z defended his URL on a number of grounds including the fact that he was a participant in good standing in the MLS and that he was authorized under the MLS’s rules to display other participants’ listings on his website. “If I used ‘MLS’ in the name of my firm, I could see how that might be perceived as something less than a true picture,” he argued, “but by simply using MLS in my URL I am telling consumers that they can get MLS–provided information about properties in the north woods from me. What could be truer than that?”

    The hearing panel disagreed with REALTOR Z’s reasoning. While REALTOR Z’s website included information about other participants’ listings that the MLS had provided – and that REALTOR Z was authorized to display – the fact remained that a real estate–related URL that included the letters MLS would lead reasonable consumers to conclude that the website would be an MLS’s, and not a broker’s website. REALTOR Z was found in violation of Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-10

    After the Case Study was published, NAR received comments suggesting that the concluding paragraph is potentially overly broad, a proposed change to the case was made and there will be more discussion in May when the Professional Standards Committee meets again to vote on that change.

    So know that we’re clear about where the controversy stems, let me try to answer your question regarding my opinion about the use of the term MLS in a manner which might mislead a consumer.

    I said in an earlier post that I believe that a consumer seeing that term in a site named philadelphiamls.com or newyorkmls.com believes that they are landing on some institutional(e.g. an MLS) site rather then a broker’s site, and that constitutes misleading the consumer – something which I think we all agree is a bad thing. The responses that came back to that comment indicated that many of the participants on this site felt that MLS consumer sites had little or no commercial value, and that therefore the term MLS really wasn’t viewed by the consumer in any special manner –

    As it happened I just received a report last night from a research group who did a report entitled “WAV Group MLS Consumer Web Site Study”. They did a study of the HAR MLS public website and in this study they make a couple of important statements –

    -“Real estate consumers in Houston strongly believe MLS consumer websites are a very valuable tool which helps them identify and buy homes more efficiently. Respondents to a consumer survey distributed to registered users of HAR.com confirmed that the MLS is in a unique and trusted position to support consumers in their property search efforts. ”

    – “Research with consumers strongly supports an affinity to using MLS property search websites ahead of other property search alternatives.”

    So to me, their study reinforces the fact that consumers look for those sites, and our members should not add to the confusion by having URLs which might be misinterpreted.

  49. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Bill – NAR has indeed put itself in the middle of a minefield of it’s own making. I understand the argument, but why is it not uniformly applied? Why is it up to the discretion of each local board? Why is it misleading in the woods of Minnesota but not the sandy beaches of San Diego? Once again, another example of selective or haphazard enforcement.

    Why is ok for the local mls to upload listings to non-Realtor online entities that use “MLS” in an url or meta title or description, but not the Realtor’s own web site? How about sites like Yahoo and Roost, that obtain listings straight from the MLS? Yahoo and Roost do this in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Atlanta, Georgia – two places where Realtors have been told to cease and desist. Can NAR say “unfair business practices” and “restriction of trade”?

    I can promise this will lead to more lawsuits against NAR, either by agents like Realtor Z who are victimized by selective enforcement, or an agent or broker who won’t pay Roost, opting instead to file a class action for restriction of trade.

    It is actions like these that put NAR at odds with it’s own membership, not to mention the DOJ. If this enforcement were adopted in San Diego (which it wont because of the players), I can assure you that a class action suit would be filed immediately.

    I would hope that debate like this provides needed prospective. NAR desperately needs to understand that they are failing on so many fronts – with the public and it’s membership. Other than some ardent supporters, few see value in NAR anymore.

    I challenge NAR to take a poll of it’s membership and ask how many would renew if membership was not a prerequisite to MLS access.

  50. Jay Thompson

    March 25, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    What is interesting to me is that Realtor.com, the “Official Site of the NAR”, has “MLS” in their meta keyword tags, but several local associations forbid it.

    https://www.narwisdom.com/2008/02/14/curious-use-of-mls-in-meta-tags-at-realtorcom/

  51. Teresa Boardman

    March 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Jay – my local association forbids it but the sites like homegain, and the other lead aggregators can have the Minnesota listings and use MLS to describe the home search and in their metatages. A company called “MLSonline” was grand fathered in and many consumers beleive that when they search the site they are searching the MLS. Not a level playing field here in MN.

  52. Sandy

    March 25, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    NAR membership in the Seattle area is not a prerequisite of MLS access. However, it is a requirement to work at any of the major brokerages. That fact doesn’t seem to have put much of a crimp on membership of our local boards because the majors here are quite large.

    That said, I am a member but I agree that I would like to see more value coming out of my membership. A good place to start would be to have the NAR be a reliable source of real estate information. Whether the market is good or bad, honesty is a better policy, generally, than spin.

  53. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    @Bob: You’re not reading clearly what I sent you –
    #1 – I felt like I was in a minefield because I was afraid my response would be misunderstood – as it was
    #2 – The Article is uniformly applied – and I don’t get where you think my response indicates that it is not – and it is not up to the discretion of each board – again I don;t see where you get that from my reply
    #3 – You go off on a digression about uploading listings that doesn;t relate to the issue here regarding the true picture we need to present to the public – and if there is an issue with your MLS, that is not an issue with NAR or with the Code of Ethics
    #4 – As I explained early in my comment the use of the letters MLS is not at issue and is not in itself an issue unless it misleads the consumer and is then potentially a violation of Article 12 and accurate use of MLS which did not mislead the consumer would not be a potential violation of the Article
    #5 – Bob I have no idea what you’re talking about when you start asking NAR to react to Yahoo and Roost, nor what the specifics of the matter is that you refer to – so I can’t comment on that at all

    Finally, Bob, I’m not sure that in California, NAR membership is required for MLS participation, so if it is a problem for you, you might want to investigate that – I know that in my area NAR membership is not required for MLS access, but it is a condition of employment with my firm –

  54. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    @Jay – Not sure why local associations are forbidding something if it passes the true picture test – for example if you had a link on your site that said click here to see properties listed in the local MLS it is probably not an issue – ANd I have my own realtor.com issues so one day we can dish about those – remember I’m a real estate broker in my everyday life- BTW checked your site out the links to the WSJ maps were awesome – really nicely done site
    @Teresa – I see you get the point about the potential for the public to be mislead – That’s what the Case study was trying to address
    @Sandy – Couldn’t agree with you more!

  55. Gina Kay Landis

    March 25, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Though I understand the opinion that people should dress comfortably when showing houses (and I normally do, though dressed-UP comfortably with pants/blouse/blazer), the opinion that dressing up is somehow passe flies in the face of current observation of those who are under 40 (or maybe even under 50). Dresses are now back en vogue as an entire generation (Millenia) who did not wear dresses are finding the freedom dresses provide – and young men are finding that their work includes not expectation of shirt and tie, but that they WANT to wear shirt and tie versus henley or even more casual wear.

    Just finished part of a recruiting seminar/conferernce where the above was pointed out. In fact, it was pointed out that many times people expect the professional with whom they are working on a major purchase be dressed one step up from themselves. Imagine giving a presentation to a room full of people wearing jeans – would you then wear jeans, or would you dress a step up in, say, business casual? The presenter said he wore a denim tie and shirt, and denim pants that were not blue jeans. Thus dressing up the presenter one step above the presentees.

    While it would be foolish to wear high heels and a skirt in ankle-deep or more snow, it isn’t foolish to dress-up while wearing say, boots and pants in such snow.

    I’ll leave the MLS question alone as it is decidedly off topic.

  56. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Bill,

    1. It flat out is not uniformly applied.
    2. Digression? The point is that the same local Board that prohibits Realtor Z from using “MLS” or lose their data feed, provides a data feed to a non-Realtor online entity that DOES use the term “MLS”. How is that digression?
    3. I brought up Yahoo and Roost because they are 3rd party entities that get direct data feeds. They use the term “MLS” in the same markets and same manner where the local board have told agents that they can’t do the same thing.
    4. There are boards across the country that are prohibiting any use of the term “MLS” on agent sites other than to say that they are members of the local MLS. These boards cite Article 12 as justification.

    Misleading the consumer is a moving target and not a verifiable standard. I have had agents on some of my fully compliant IDX sites and assume I’m the listing agent. If agents don’t get it, you think every consumer understands the purpose of IDX?

  57. Maureen Francis

    March 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Two offices in my market have a dress code. Until recently, one did not allow female agents to wear pants in the office! I don’t work there. I won’t work there. I couldn’t work there.

  58. Sean Purcell

    March 25, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Teresa (spelled correctly) 🙂
    You sure have created a great thread.

    Bill,
    I recently checked with the local board on the issue of MLS vs membership. Their response was this: it is dependent on my broker. If he belongs than I have no choice but to join the local board (and without choice CAR and NAR as well) to get MLS. If, however, he does not belong or I am an independent broker then I can get access (I think) 🙂

    As for url’s – take a look at these:

    http://www.san-diegomls.com
    http://www.mlsofsandiego.com

    At least with the first one you land on an agent’s site and the misleading subterfuge ends there. The second one is outrageous.

  59. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Sean, Sandicor (San Diego’s regional MLS) told me that local board membership was required for access.

  60. Jay Thompson

    March 25, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    “Until recently, one did not allow female agents to wear pants in the office!”

    Did they allow them to wear skirts? 🙂

    Come work for me Mo. No one is required to wear pants…

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…………………..

  61. Jay Thompson

    March 25, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    “told me that local board membership was required for access.”

    And let me guess, local board membership requires NAR membership?

    Voluntary my ass…. again.

  62. Jonathan Dalton

    March 25, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    These ads aren’t actually bothering me too much. I think some of the stats are tired and at least one, the one about how much of a person’s wealth is tied up in their home (scary thought these days) can be twisted.

    Personally, I’ll throw on slacks if the mood strikes (and it usually does) for the first meeting. After that, if the client’s in shorts, I’m in shorts. Common sense when it’s 115 degrees.

  63. Sean Purcell

    March 25, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Bob,

    Sandicor told me the same thing. When I pressed them on the issue they told me that it was actually up to the local boards and that I should contact them. I then spoke with SDAR and was given the info I noted above.

  64. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Sean: Thanks for bringing clarity to the discussion regarding Association and MLS membership – And I did check out both of the sites and I think they are both a problem – BTW I checked whois info on the second site and its registered to a guy name Brian Yui who after a little more checking seems to own a real estate company- So he and the other guy differ only in the design of the home page you land on – but both of them IMHO are using the acronym for the purpose of luring a consumer to a site that the consumer thinks is an organizational site rather then a broker’s site –

  65. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    bob;
    If you have evidence that the code of ethics is not being applied uniformly , then you should gather that evidence and present it to staff at NAR so that it may be handled appropriately – but just making a statement doesn’t mbue that statement with any truth – And yes, going from talking about the responsibility of an REALTOR to present a true picture to the public in their dealings with the public to talking about the syndication of listing data to thrid parties is indeed a digression – they are two different isues – both important, but very different.

  66. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Jay; Your responses show a deep fascination that you seem to have with your ass 🙂
    As Sean points out , you (who are the broker) would not need to be a REALTOR to be in the MLS – in fact, you might not need to in your market- You would only have to check-
    And as far as the local, state , and national associations having a three way agreement, there are a ton of reasons for that which are way too involved to get into here, but are mutually beneficial to all the groups and overall beneficial to the members-

  67. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I did check out both of the sites and I think they are both a problem

    The one site where you did not identify the owner is a member of the Sandicor MLS Board of Directors appointed to that position by the San Diego Association of Realtors, and past chair of that Association’s information systems committee.

    Now tell me again how the Code of Ethics is applied uniformly?

  68. Jay Thompson

    March 25, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Bill – obviously you haven’t seen my ass. Now when I rode a bicycle close to 200 miles a week and weighed 165, it was quite chiseled and attractive, just ask countless women. Now that I’m pushing 235, not-so-much. 😉

    I just struggle with the whole “NAR membership is voluntary” mantra when in fact (for me) it is not. Yeah, yeah, I could attempt to be successful without MLS access, but that doesn’t seem prudent at this time. So I guess technically the NAR is voluntary. But for all practical purposes, it is not (again, for me, in my market).

    Speaking only for myself, aside from MLS access, I see little benefit to belonging to (and paying ever escalating dues) to my local, state or national organizations. Arbitration? (which you mentioned earlier) — sure, that’s a good thing. Is it worth $800/year (what my wife and I pay, roughly) year after year after year? I guess if I need it. But 1.something million people paying in $400ish bucks apiece, (per year) is a lot of money to pay for the right to arbitrate. There are far cheaper ways to accomplish that. Ditto for the goodness in the bloated COE.

    I’m trying, really I am. What I see in the NAR is a bureaucratic dinosaur that is far out of touch with both its membership, and the general public. Yes, I see some changes happening, good changes, but there is a tremendous amount of change needed to make the NAR and many (clearly not all) local and state associations effective.

  69. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    @ Jay- I understand the struggle, and I remember when I opened my office as an independent 25 years ago – my plate was full with working in the business and balancing my family stuff as well – But I gotta tell ya – you’re the kind of participant that makes Associations better – and I hope that you have the opportunity to do some of that stuff when you;re ready – and the closer you get , the more you’ll see, and where you see good thigns you;ll support them and where you see things that need to be done, you’ll work to change them – and its all about the journey- 😉

  70. Bill Lublin

    March 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Bob; I didn’t mention the name of the other site that Sean mentioned because the agent’s name was on the site – I think he was under the understandable impression that the second site was not operated by a real estate broker – I was just pointing out that it was- and enforcement of the code is not automatic – it usually starts by having someone in that local market make a complaint if they see an unethical action – if someone makes that complaint, and the respondent is treated differently then someone else is treated, then we can talk about how they are not treated uniformly, but in this instance it looks like the owners of both these sites are getting a pass from their colleagues –

  71. Bob

    March 25, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I’m not complaining about either site – I’m pointing out selective enforcement of the Code of Ethics. This board won’t push the issue with those sites, while others in other parts of the country are forcing agents to abandon their sites. Tell me again how that is not selective.

  72. Jay Thompson

    March 26, 2008 at 1:07 am

    We have to work in family stuff?! 😉

    This has been a great thread, and thanks Bill for contributing so much food for thought!

  73. Teresa Boardman

    March 26, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Two years ago I got a cease and desist letter from the NAR about one of my sites. I believed I had invented a new word, but the NAR did not see it that way. I ended up talking to a lawyer who told me that NAR would not be able to prevent a non-Realtor from using the domain name but could prevent me from doing so as I am a member. I decided to keep the domain name. I put it in a family members name who does not have a real estate license and I am not using it in my business. The domain name worked well for me and I plan on selling it eventually.

  74. Bonnie Erickson

    April 1, 2008 at 1:16 am

    Whew! Finally read all the comments and who would have guessed a dress code post would generate so much ire!

    T, I’m with you. Most winter days I’m in slacks with a jacket or colored jeans with matching jacket. That dress code is even more necessary now with so many foreclosures on the market that don’t shovel or are not well cleaned inside. Heels . . . well, it wouldn’t matter if I wore a suit or not, heels are a male invention to kill women’s arches and make their calves look good (strictly in jest, guys). The irony of the NAR ad is that the most wealthy clients I’ve worked with dressed casually. They’re realistic about house tours and recognize that ease of getting in and out of the car, in and out of shoes, checking landscaping, etc., are better done in casual attire.

    As to NAR membership . . . THEY are listening! I do, however, resent that the public can mangle the use of REALTOR® however they want to, but if we, as members, use it incorrectly, we’re screwed. What’s the point of having a NAME if it only means we’re members of a club that we enter by fee? We don’t even have to earn the right, just pay the fee! If we can’t use the term to describe our occupation, identify that we are our client’s “R”, use it in our domain names or paper ads except in narrowly prescribed ways, use it in e-mail, etc., how does it set us apart from a real estate agent? It doesn’t EXCEPT I have to be a member in order to use the MLS. And I can’t even use the term MLS to describe the IDX feed I have on my website. Anyone else who is NOT a member can use the term, but not the privileged card carrying elite! The public thinks I’m a realtor (lower case used on purpose because the public doesn’t know better), not a real estate agent. They don’t know the difference and they wouldn’t care if they did know the difference. The code doesn’t make agents ethical. I am ethical because I always was ethical. The reason I adhere to the rules for use of the term REALTOR® is because my ethics are to follow the rules. It’s not because the rules say I have to!

  75. Robin Sing

    May 21, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Theresa Boardman’s posts are so informative. Ok..I’m a fan, and I’m learning! Can’t beat that!

  76. Barry Cunningham

    July 25, 2008 at 5:36 am

    “Yesterday I trudged through knee deep snow”..never going to happen. I’ll deal with a possible hurricane just so I never have to ever say again that I “trudged through knee deep snow”

  77. teresa boardman

    July 25, 2008 at 6:19 am

    LOL Here in Minnesota we are built pretty tough LOL

  78. Jennifer Hart

    September 10, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Teresa, thanks for your comment on “perception”. Although there are no snow banks in Austin, TX, agents have other weather worries. I do agree that how you are dressed does not make you a good or bad agent.

    I try to consider all factors when readying myself to meet a client: How many homes we will look at in one day, is it 110 degrees outside, will you be walking new construction lots in the rain?

    Let’s keep it Informal, friendly and real. It’s the end result of a job well done that matters most.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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