More Bad News for Realtors, Part 819

I like to stop by the National Association of Realtors’ blog now and again to see what the N.A.R. is making of the many changes in real estate. A recent posting referred to a Harris Interactive poll from July in which people were asked to rate the prestige of various occupations.

Firefighters were No. 1, while nurses, teachers, and military officers also did well. None of these are very surprising, at least not to me. I was surprised, however, to see that doctors and scientists are also near the top of the list. Ministers also did pretty well, although I wonder how they would have made out if the poll were conducted after the Ted Haggard scandal.

Journalists, I am sad to say, did pretty poorly in prestige terms, ranking toward the bottom of the list. They beat out only five other occupations: union leader, actor, business executive, stockbroker, and … real estate agent/broker.

It can’t feel good to come in dead last in anything, even a public-opinion survey. That’s why the N.A.R. countered the survey’s findings with a blog post entitled Realtor? is to Real Estate Agent as Mercedes? is to Car. The gist of the post is that if Harris had surveyed the public as to their feelings about Realtors — as opposed to the more generic “real estate agents/brokers” — they would have gotten a very different result. Maybe, maybe not. But I’m not sure the N.A.R.’s headline on this blog post quite works. While I guess you’re supposed to assume that a Mercedes is more trustworthy and downright better than a plain old Car, you could just as easily assume that, in the eyes of most people, it’s simply more Expensive.

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 32


  1. prosa says:

    It’s a bad analogy even in automotive terms. What the NAR presumably was trying to say was that a Realtor (drumroll please!) is more trustworthy and reliable than a plain old real estate agent. The thing is, no one is ever going to claim that a Mercedes is more reliable than an ordinary car, in fact like many other European cars they can be tempermental beasts which are horrendously expensive to repair if the warranty has expired. A much more accurate analogy, again speaking in automotive terms, would be Realtor is to Real Estate Agent as Toyota/Honda is to Car … but that wouldn’t have quite the same cachet :)
    Dr. Z would sooner shave his mustache than admit it, but a big reason why people buy Mercedes is because owning one is a powerful status symbol, a way of showing other people that You’ve Made It. Using a Realtor vs. a garden-variety real estate agent, in contrast, sends out precisely zero status messages.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. prosa says:

    It’s a bad analogy even in automotive terms. What the NAR presumably was trying to say was that a Realtor (drumroll please!) is more trustworthy and reliable than a plain old real estate agent. The thing is, no one is ever going to claim that a Mercedes is more reliable than an ordinary car, in fact like many other European cars they can be tempermental beasts which are horrendously expensive to repair if the warranty has expired. A much more accurate analogy, again speaking in automotive terms, would be Realtor is to Real Estate Agent as Toyota/Honda is to Car … but that wouldn’t have quite the same cachet :)
    Dr. Z would sooner shave his mustache than admit it, but a big reason why people buy Mercedes is because owning one is a powerful status symbol, a way of showing other people that You’ve Made It. Using a Realtor vs. a garden-variety real estate agent, in contrast, sends out precisely zero status messages.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. TheQuitter says:

    that just goes to show how out-of-touch some organizations are.

    wonder what kinda results you get if you had a poll that asked, “Are realtors the same thing as real estate agents?”

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  4. TheQuitter says:

    that just goes to show how out-of-touch some organizations are.

    wonder what kinda results you get if you had a poll that asked, “Are realtors the same thing as real estate agents?”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. pkimelma says:

    Their timing may not have been so great. If you look at the recent survey from Consumer reports on most reliable and least reliable cars (from new car owner surveys), Mercedes had more than its share at the bottom of the list. So, if Realtor is like Mercedes, that puts it only a couple above dead last ;-)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. pkimelma says:

    Their timing may not have been so great. If you look at the recent survey from Consumer reports on most reliable and least reliable cars (from new car owner surveys), Mercedes had more than its share at the bottom of the list. So, if Realtor is like Mercedes, that puts it only a couple above dead last ;-)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. ReubenMoore says:

    Well, we real estate agents could do much to improve our public perception if we moved away from the “Pittsburgh Plus” pricing model that many firms mandate.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. ReubenMoore says:

    Well, we real estate agents could do much to improve our public perception if we moved away from the “Pittsburgh Plus” pricing model that many firms mandate.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  9. ceruleanbill says:

    My assumption has always been that a Realtor is a Real Estate Agent. I think of them as necessary evils — and lately, perhaps, not all that necessary. They *could* add value… but I think their pricing and services model is stuck in the 1960s.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  10. ceruleanbill says:

    My assumption has always been that a Realtor is a Real Estate Agent. I think of them as necessary evils — and lately, perhaps, not all that necessary. They *could* add value… but I think their pricing and services model is stuck in the 1960s.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  11. pkimelma says:

    If we want to be honest, the whole Real Estate industry is stuck in the past. Too many charges and services no longer are justified. From having to pay outrageous title/escrow costs when just refinancing (how many billions of dollars did that wasteful expense cost Americans in the last few years?) to high buyer/seller commission percentages when far less work is needed (with web sites for multiple-listings, more buyer self-research, more standardized laws to protect the buyer and seller, etc). The industry lobbies hard to keep things just the way they are (or the way it wants them), all at the detriment of the customers. It is not surprising that people have a low opinion of them, whether “Realtors” or just agents/brokers. I think the general view is that people may like a particular person (regardless of whether they have a specific license or not), but distrust and dislike the whole industry.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  12. pkimelma says:

    If we want to be honest, the whole Real Estate industry is stuck in the past. Too many charges and services no longer are justified. From having to pay outrageous title/escrow costs when just refinancing (how many billions of dollars did that wasteful expense cost Americans in the last few years?) to high buyer/seller commission percentages when far less work is needed (with web sites for multiple-listings, more buyer self-research, more standardized laws to protect the buyer and seller, etc). The industry lobbies hard to keep things just the way they are (or the way it wants them), all at the detriment of the customers. It is not surprising that people have a low opinion of them, whether “Realtors” or just agents/brokers. I think the general view is that people may like a particular person (regardless of whether they have a specific license or not), but distrust and dislike the whole industry.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  13. Jun Okumura says:

    I offer my humble opinion that N.A.R. would have done a much better job of getting their point across if they had used, say, Lexus, as the example. Needless to say, the fact that I am a Japanese citizen living in Tokyo has nothing to with this comment.

    Which somehow reminds me of this Tokyo realtor who, I won’t say the guys there flat-out lied to me, but…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  14. Jun Okumura says:

    I offer my humble opinion that N.A.R. would have done a much better job of getting their point across if they had used, say, Lexus, as the example. Needless to say, the fact that I am a Japanese citizen living in Tokyo has nothing to with this comment.

    Which somehow reminds me of this Tokyo realtor who, I won’t say the guys there flat-out lied to me, but…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  15. glenwood3646 says:

    As a title insurance agent, I can tell you that real estate agents are getting a bad rap. Most of my clients are as hardworking as any professional, often in spite of their clients.

    Yes, the system is antiquated, but you shouldn’t use that as a measure of the people in the system.

    FWIW, in my expierence FSBO transactions have a higher instance of problems pre and post closing then those handled by a real estate agent or real estate attorney.

    Most often asked questions in a FSBO

    -Are you required to provide a survey?
    -Who is preparing the deed?
    -Is the buyer getting financing?
    -Did you actually READ the offer to purchase?

    Most frequent response?

    -What?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  16. glenwood3646 says:

    As a title insurance agent, I can tell you that real estate agents are getting a bad rap. Most of my clients are as hardworking as any professional, often in spite of their clients.

    Yes, the system is antiquated, but you shouldn’t use that as a measure of the people in the system.

    FWIW, in my expierence FSBO transactions have a higher instance of problems pre and post closing then those handled by a real estate agent or real estate attorney.

    Most often asked questions in a FSBO

    -Are you required to provide a survey?
    -Who is preparing the deed?
    -Is the buyer getting financing?
    -Did you actually READ the offer to purchase?

    Most frequent response?

    -What?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  17. 3612 says:

    I want to see more occupations: what’s the prestige level of waitress, tv repairman, sanitation worker, bus driver, philosopher, beauracrat, pilot, artist, author, saint, bike mechanic, mother, flower auctioneer[read "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart, coming out Feb. '07]?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  18. 3612 says:

    I want to see more occupations: what’s the prestige level of waitress, tv repairman, sanitation worker, bus driver, philosopher, beauracrat, pilot, artist, author, saint, bike mechanic, mother, flower auctioneer[read "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart, coming out Feb. '07]?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  19. true-agent says:

    Organized Real Estate–that would be Realtors®–spend a great deal of money trying to convince the public, via advertising, that Realtors® are the ones to call when you need someone you can count on, and trust.

    That’s the public face.

    Quietly, behind the scenes, Organized Real Estate is doing all it can to stifle competition, and control the rules of the game by rewriting the laws that govern their trade.

    The money they spend on advertising pales in comparison to the money they spend buying legislators through PAC dollars, or–if that doesn’t work–through quiet threat of spending those PAC dollars against those who might otherwise oppose their legislative whims.

    As a follow up to their chapter on real estate agents, Levitt and Dubner could do a great public service by exposing the incentives surrounding the in-house deal, the protection of which spawned the sham concept known as Designated Agency…and–along the same lines–it would pay to take a deep look at why there was a “need” for so many states–at the “urging” of Realtors®–to seek out Minimum Service Legislation for sellers. (In both cases, the restriction of competition and greater marketplace control were at the heart of Organized Real Estate’s efforts.)

    Probably no concept, though, offers greater illustration of the ethically bankrupt, competition-restraining maneuverings of the Realtor Body Politic, than the evolution of the, now, thieving concept known as Procuring Cause.

    In what is best described as a “twofer” as in, two for the price of one, Realtors® manage, by internal rules, to restrain true buyer agent trade and steal away a buyer’s right to be represented in a real estate transaction, all in one fell swoop.

    Check it out for yourself:

    http://www.real-reform.org/pcnoneba.pdf

    In my opinion, once more of these things are known, Realtors® are going to be the direct cause of “real estate agents” slipping to the very bottom of any prestige polling. (And deservedly so.)

    Jay Reifert, Realtor® Hostage/Consumer Advocate

    [Jay Reifert has been fighting against the abuses of the Realtor® machine since shortly after entering the business in 1988. He succeeded, in 2002, in stopping the sham of Designated Agency from entering Wisconsin. He lost the rematch...failing to stop Designated Agency in 2005 and is currently waging a legal battle, in the form of an antitrust suit, to gain his freedom from the trade-restraining, conflict-ridden world of Organized Real Estate. Yes...while Mr. Reifert needs the Multiple Listing Service, MLS--a condition of access being that you must be a Realtor®--he has no interest, as things currently stand, in remaining a (hostage) Realtor®.]

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  20. true-agent says:

    Organized Real Estate–that would be Realtors?–spend a great deal of money trying to convince the public, via advertising, that Realtors? are the ones to call when you need someone you can count on, and trust.

    That’s the public face.

    Quietly, behind the scenes, Organized Real Estate is doing all it can to stifle competition, and control the rules of the game by rewriting the laws that govern their trade.

    The money they spend on advertising pales in comparison to the money they spend buying legislators through PAC dollars, or–if that doesn’t work–through quiet threat of spending those PAC dollars against those who might otherwise oppose their legislative whims.

    As a follow up to their chapter on real estate agents, Levitt and Dubner could do a great public service by exposing the incentives surrounding the in-house deal, the protection of which spawned the sham concept known as Designated Agency…and–along the same lines–it would pay to take a deep look at why there was a “need” for so many states–at the “urging” of Realtors?–to seek out Minimum Service Legislation for sellers. (In both cases, the restriction of competition and greater marketplace control were at the heart of Organized Real Estate’s efforts.)

    Probably no concept, though, offers greater illustration of the ethically bankrupt, competition-restraining maneuverings of the Realtor Body Politic, than the evolution of the, now, thieving concept known as Procuring Cause.

    In what is best described as a “twofer” as in, two for the price of one, Realtors? manage, by internal rules, to restrain true buyer agent trade and steal away a buyer’s right to be represented in a real estate transaction, all in one fell swoop.

    Check it out for yourself:

    http://www.real-reform.org/pcnoneba.pdf

    In my opinion, once more of these things are known, Realtors? are going to be the direct cause of “real estate agents” slipping to the very bottom of any prestige polling. (And deservedly so.)

    Jay Reifert, Realtor? Hostage/Consumer Advocate

    [Jay Reifert has been fighting against the abuses of the Realtor? machine since shortly after entering the business in 1988. He succeeded, in 2002, in stopping the sham of Designated Agency from entering Wisconsin. He lost the rematch...failing to stop Designated Agency in 2005 and is currently waging a legal battle, in the form of an antitrust suit, to gain his freedom from the trade-restraining, conflict-ridden world of Organized Real Estate. Yes...while Mr. Reifert needs the Multiple Listing Service, MLS--a condition of access being that you must be a Realtor?--he has no interest, as things currently stand, in remaining a (hostage) Realtor?.]

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  21. hsloboda says:

    Real Estate Agents beat out Car Salesmen???

    What is the world coming to???

    Being currently in the process of trying to buy a car, I wonder if you could weigh in on the impact all the “ethically bankrupt” (great term!) salespersons do to discourage sales. I, and all my friends, dread having to face up to the car sales “team” so much, that we put off buying a car until we literally have no other choice. If they weren’t so foul to deal with, would people buy more cars and rescue Detroit? I would certainly buy cars more often if I wasn’t forced to pay too much, finance too high, and end up “upside down” on my car loan, leaving me no alternative but to live with the darn thing for years until its paid off. I’d love to get a new car every 3 years.

    Given that a house lasts longer than a car, I would think the Realtors were a shoo-in popularity-wise!! You can manage to avoid them and therefore not hate them quite so much.

    I do have some great Realtor stories, and it doesn’t matter what they call themselves, they’re all idiots. There was the time a Realtor poored 8 gallons of Clorox down a well I wanted to have tested for water quality. He left the taps running over the weekend to clear the Clorox out of the lines prior to the Monday morning test. Unfortunately, he forgot that the upstairs water heater drain valve was wide open!! Can anybody say “FLOOD!!”. The best part was all the water ran out into the yard, and flooded the septic tank too. A Twofer!!

    Yeah, those Realtors, ya gotta love ‘em!! Such Professionals!!! ;)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  22. hsloboda says:

    Real Estate Agents beat out Car Salesmen???

    What is the world coming to???

    Being currently in the process of trying to buy a car, I wonder if you could weigh in on the impact all the “ethically bankrupt” (great term!) salespersons do to discourage sales. I, and all my friends, dread having to face up to the car sales “team” so much, that we put off buying a car until we literally have no other choice. If they weren’t so foul to deal with, would people buy more cars and rescue Detroit? I would certainly buy cars more often if I wasn’t forced to pay too much, finance too high, and end up “upside down” on my car loan, leaving me no alternative but to live with the darn thing for years until its paid off. I’d love to get a new car every 3 years.

    Given that a house lasts longer than a car, I would think the Realtors were a shoo-in popularity-wise!! You can manage to avoid them and therefore not hate them quite so much.

    I do have some great Realtor stories, and it doesn’t matter what they call themselves, they’re all idiots. There was the time a Realtor poored 8 gallons of Clorox down a well I wanted to have tested for water quality. He left the taps running over the weekend to clear the Clorox out of the lines prior to the Monday morning test. Unfortunately, he forgot that the upstairs water heater drain valve was wide open!! Can anybody say “FLOOD!!”. The best part was all the water ran out into the yard, and flooded the septic tank too. A Twofer!!

    Yeah, those Realtors, ya gotta love ‘em!! Such Professionals!!! ;)

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  23. juniperDFW says:

    Realtors, much like lawyers and government officials do have a bad image, but what’s more intriguing is what the NAR is attempting to do to “fluff up” the industry. I’ll come out and say it, there are a lot of completely incompetent, morally inadequate, and senseless Realtors out there. By not taking the bull by its horns and working hard to improve Realtor standards, the industry is…how shall I say it? Much like other industries where the line between what is right and what is lawful often clash.
    Going back to the sleezy carsalesman. What about the sleezy lawyer, or the slezzy politician? The bottom line is this, we as a society set the standards for morality and justice. If a woman can sue a fast food company for spilling her hot coffee on herself, then where does the line get drawn for our standards?
    I am a Realtor, and I have had to work hard rowing upstream trying to rectify the damage done to this industry. How do I do it? I acknowledge the the bad fruits out there, and try and conduct my business in a manner that exemplifies my high standards and professionalism.
    I think that we’ve set the stage for an overall social corruption that has bled or will bleed into nearly all industries. Look out!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  24. juniperDFW says:

    Realtors, much like lawyers and government officials do have a bad image, but what’s more intriguing is what the NAR is attempting to do to “fluff up” the industry. I’ll come out and say it, there are a lot of completely incompetent, morally inadequate, and senseless Realtors out there. By not taking the bull by its horns and working hard to improve Realtor standards, the industry is…how shall I say it? Much like other industries where the line between what is right and what is lawful often clash.
    Going back to the sleezy carsalesman. What about the sleezy lawyer, or the slezzy politician? The bottom line is this, we as a society set the standards for morality and justice. If a woman can sue a fast food company for spilling her hot coffee on herself, then where does the line get drawn for our standards?
    I am a Realtor, and I have had to work hard rowing upstream trying to rectify the damage done to this industry. How do I do it? I acknowledge the the bad fruits out there, and try and conduct my business in a manner that exemplifies my high standards and professionalism.
    I think that we’ve set the stage for an overall social corruption that has bled or will bleed into nearly all industries. Look out!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  25. hsloboda says:

    I admit that I have known one moral, ethical real estate agent (sorry Dad, not you!). I was trying to sell my first home and he had the listing. I had two little tots and every time they called to show the house, I had to bundle everybody up and leave.

    One day, the kids fell asleep 2 seconds after I got them in the car and I decided to just park across the street and wait. Two realtors from this guy’s office showed up, a very young, attractive blond and an older salesman. No customer ever did show although they delivered a very believable accounting to me later of the supposed visit, and yes, the carefully made bed was rumpled and still warm when I went back inside. I told my agent exactly what had happened.

    At closing, he forfeited his entire commission to us!! Totally a class act! I’ve given up ever hoping to see a repeat of such an ethical salesperson. It upset me that he felt he needed to make up for his associates lack of morality, but he refused to keep the money.

    I work in healthcare and we have to take yearly classes to figure out which laws impact our daily work routine. I sign a code of ethics and will lose my certification and be barred from ever working in healthcare again if I commit certain crimes. Perhaps if Realtors were serious about cleaning up their act, they’d enact such tough rules too.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  26. hsloboda says:

    I admit that I have known one moral, ethical real estate agent (sorry Dad, not you!). I was trying to sell my first home and he had the listing. I had two little tots and every time they called to show the house, I had to bundle everybody up and leave.

    One day, the kids fell asleep 2 seconds after I got them in the car and I decided to just park across the street and wait. Two realtors from this guy’s office showed up, a very young, attractive blond and an older salesman. No customer ever did show although they delivered a very believable accounting to me later of the supposed visit, and yes, the carefully made bed was rumpled and still warm when I went back inside. I told my agent exactly what had happened.

    At closing, he forfeited his entire commission to us!! Totally a class act! I’ve given up ever hoping to see a repeat of such an ethical salesperson. It upset me that he felt he needed to make up for his associates lack of morality, but he refused to keep the money.

    I work in healthcare and we have to take yearly classes to figure out which laws impact our daily work routine. I sign a code of ethics and will lose my certification and be barred from ever working in healthcare again if I commit certain crimes. Perhaps if Realtors were serious about cleaning up their act, they’d enact such tough rules too.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  27. Brian Brady says:

    I think that the best thing that could happen to the real estate brokerage profession is the dismantlement of the NAR. The NAR made some very dumb choices these past ten years; partnering with Bill Gates on realtor.com was one of them. Not taking a proactive stance about the hysteria that was the real estate boom in 2004 was another. NAR could have advised caution back then…Lord knows the good Realtors I know were.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  28. Brian Brady says:

    I think that the best thing that could happen to the real estate brokerage profession is the dismantlement of the NAR. The NAR made some very dumb choices these past ten years; partnering with Bill Gates on realtor.com was one of them. Not taking a proactive stance about the hysteria that was the real estate boom in 2004 was another. NAR could have advised caution back then…Lord knows the good Realtors I know were.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  29. Linda says:

    The word REALTOR should not be allowed in the presence of children…

    You can’t get any lower than a REALTOR:

    http://outsider222.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/bangor-maine-recap/

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  30. Linda says:

    The word REALTOR should not be allowed in the presence of children…

    You can’t get any lower than a REALTOR:

    http://outsider222.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/bangor-maine-recap/

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  31. Mary says:

    Why was this sent out by Patrick.net today? This story is 6 years old??

    I’d guesstimate that 90 percent of the non-real estate insiders don’t even know there is a difference between realtor and real estate agent and in today’s market they can all be named MUD

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  32. Jeff Spaur says:

    What they forget to tell you is that most agents are forced into membership by their local associations in order to access the local MLS. The NAR loves to take money and provides very little in the way of service to the local agent.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0