NOTE– The inspiration for this post came from my wife (and fellow REALTOR), Kari. The idea is all hers, I am merely putting it in writing in the hope of accurately expressing it to all of you. I can take credit for the writing, but she deserves the credit for the inspiration.
As group, the blogosphere has been pretty tough on the National Association of REALTORS. Much of it has been absolutely warranted. Some of it has been, in my estimation, overly harsh at times. I’m not particularly interested in adding to the already voluminous canon of NAR criticism. I am, however, extremely interested in seeing things change. So in this case, I think I might have to forgo my desire for the former, in order to fulfill my desire for the latter. I have also been encouraged by the recent effort on the part of NAR to actually engage the membership and address some of the criticism (after much pleading, both here and elsewhere). This makes me hopeful that perhaps NAR is not only hearing, but also listening.
So here, goes. . .
Kari and I were recently on a drive out to house an open house at one of our listings. Since we live in what could be described as the middle of nowhere, we do a lot of driving. We like driving, because it gives us a chance to discuss. On this particular drive, we began discussing the state of the real estate profession. Specifically, we were discussing the fact that not only are there not a lot of young real estate professionals, but there seems to be no effort or steps being taken to change that fact. It would appear that we are not alone in this assessment.
Chief among the reasons that real estate seems unable to attract people dedicated to the profession, especially young professionals, is the overall culture of the real estate profession. It is not at all inclusive. There is little true cooperation (except when it is motivated by commissions). The “Look at Me!” attitude that is pervasive in much of the real estate marketing and advertising just isn’t attractive to many members of Gen-Y.
NB– The distinctive lack of a “look at me!” attitude and the undying commitment to cooperation and collaboration exhibited by the AgentGenius community is precisely what attracted me, and precisely why I continue to participate and promote it to anyone who will listen.
We came up with all kinds of reasons, but culture and attitude were the biggest. All of our discussion lead us to the same place– ok, now what? Can the culture be changed? How can the culture be changed?
The culture of the real estate profession can most certainly be changed, but such a change cannot occur without leadership. Such leadership can certainly come from people like Kari, me, and you, but it will have a tough time gaining any real momentum or traction if there is no commitment to change from those who occupy the positions of leadership within the profession. The leadership that change requires must come from within NAR if it is to have any sort of real, lasting effect on the industry. If not, change will literally take an entire generation to achieve. I’m impatient, I don’t want to wait that long, and I don’t think the consumer does, either.
The more we thought about it, the more we thought about what NAR is, and what it must become if it is going to be valuable in the future. It was at this point that Kari came up with what I think it the perfect metaphor for how I perceive NAR, and why I don’t feel like it relates to me. She looked at me and said:
You know what NAR is? I feel like a girl scout who has to learn how to sell cookies to earn a badge, and rather than helping me learn how to sell the cookies, NAR is that mother who buys all my cookies so that I can have my badge.
BAM! That’s it, in a nutshell. That is exactly the feeling that I get from watching all of the NAR ads on TV, and from reading the Newspaper ads, and reading the I NEED NAR TO PROVIDE THE RESOURCES TO ALLOW ME TO SELL MY COOKIES SUCCESSFULLY!
I WANT TO EARN MY OWN DAMN BADGE!
articles copious vendor ads in REALTOR magazine. I feel like NAR is trying so hard to either create business for me, or trying to sell me something, or generally getting in my way, that I don’t get any value from it.
I DON’T NEED NAR TO BUY MY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!
I NEED NAR TO PROVIDE THE RESOURCES TO ALLOW ME TO SELL MY COOKIES SUCCESSFULLY!
I WANT TO EARN MY OWN DAMN BADGE!
To that end. .
I want honesty from NAR. (this was a good start)
I don’t want to be told how things should be, I want to know how they are.
I want all those vast resources being put to use informing and preparing me, not promoting and selling to me.
I don’t want NAR to speak for me, I want NAR to enable me to speak and be heard as credible.
I want to know if change really is taking place.
I want to feel like I have a stake in such change.
I want to know that I’m not just talking into a black hole.
I want to know that my input and opinion matters.
I want to be as proud to be a member of NAR as I am to be a member of my state association.
I don’t think I’m asking for very much. In fact, what I am asking for takes little or no money at all. Moreover, I know that it is possible, that is why I included that last “want” on the list. 2 years ago, if you would have asked me about VAR, I would have told you that I could care less. That has all changed. It didn’t change over night, but it did change.
NAR can change, too. I know it.
So, c’mon, NAR! I’ve got some cookies I need to move, and they taste sweet. How you gonna help me sell ’em?