The Real Estate Encyclopedia
Perception Is Truth, Even If It Isn_t
Category - Real Estate Information Sources - Real Estate Articles

A Harris Poll released in 2007 listed real estate agents along with stock brokers and insurance agents as the least trusted professionals.  Once again that old adage is proven true – “one’s perception tends to become their reality.”  What the consumer experiences and what the media continues to report about the “lack of professionalism” in the real estate industry simply continues to feed this perception.

The issue at hand, however, is not whether the statement is true but rather that the industry needs to acknowledge that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  I don’t think there is much doubt that as a whole, the real estate industry fully recognizes the public’s perception of us and how we do business.  The problem is that while we would like to implement an industry-wide solution, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen.  The industry needs to act but it can only do so much.

The answer is “change” at the individual level.

In today’s highly competitive market agents can no longer afford to be order takers.  They have to acquire the education necessary to build their skills and their business.  Today the licensing and continuing education requirements are woefully inadequate, almost to the extent of becoming meaningless.  When it takes 10 times the hours to become a cosmetologist than it does to become a real estate agent something is out of sync.

Real estate has always been, and will for the foreseeable future continue to be, a self-imposed adult learning environment.  Numerous surveys all indicate that real estate is facing a growing knowledge vacuum in the key areas such as basic sales skills, productivity, online marketing, negotiation, customer service, etc.  The problem is not that advanced education is not available – it’s whether or not the agents will take advantage of it.

Certainly there are many theories on how the industry is going to get the job done.  Strong market competition will help as will the action of some states to raise the bar for obtaining and keeping a real estate license.  But the key is in the hands of the brokers.  Standing on the front line of this issue they need to invest more time in recruiting and training quality agents.  Those agents that are not willing to make the mind-shift from an independent contractor, sales driven, commission-based, one-time client sales approach to that of a consultative, fee-based, for life relationship model need to be weeded out. 

Advanced education and training will only be effective if the student is eager and willing to improve.  Brokers, that’s the mantel on your shoulders – find and develop those agents.  More knowledge and more skills are the basis for delivering a higher level of service.  Although every person is ultimately accountable for their own personal growth and knowledge, brokers like parents need to take on the responsibility of helping and guiding their agents down this road.  

And ponder this – if we don’t take the necessary action there are those in Washington that are just looking for the open door.   


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