Back in my Master's program days, there was a class on "hidden" messages that made a huge impact on me. I hadn't thought about the messages behind the illustrations on billboards, posters, TV ads, etc. I just subliminally accepted the messages without question. As the layers of impact these pictures made on we humans was peeled away, a whole new world of "impressions" opened up for me.
In like manner, the written word often has an impact the writer doesn't necessarily intend. In my own struggle to find what separates me from other agents (precipitated by my broker who wanted me to clarify for advertising purposes), I wrote several posts here on Active Rain about tooting my own horn. It was never my intention to put any other agents down or to denigrate their professionalism. That message was heard by some on the Rain, however, and it became clear to me that by trying to toot my horn, it was taken that I was better than others. Part of the reason this "tooting" has become so hard for me is that I truly believe most agents are very professional and conduct themselves accordingly.
I've wondered many times why it is that REALTORS® have gotten such a bad rap. My quest has been to find out why. Surely the 5% of us who are not competent, cannot make that awful an impression on the general public. I questioned whether it was misunderstanding as to how we are paid. Does the public think we get the full commission or do they understand the published commission is usually split four ways? Is there a measure of jealousy over the fancy cars and clothes? Is there an assumption that we don't work hard? What is the key?
My eyes and ears have been open looking for keys to the bad REALTOR® reputation. More than once I've noticed the not so subtle comments about agents being in the business ONLY for their commission and NOT being interested in the client's best interest. This morning's edition of Inman News is a perfect example. The reporter, Marcie Geffner, in discussing poor appraisals made this statement: "Realtors are culpable as well since they can become complicit in these scams either actively through added pressure on the lender or appraiser or passively through the guise of feigned ignorance that the appraisal is fictional. This complicity isn't surprising since the Realtor's motivation is not to protect the borrower or investor, but rather to ensure the sale, which results in compensation to the Realtor."
How can we have anything but a poor reputation when the media consistently portrays us as only out for OUR best interests and our commissions. They seldom talk about the clients we talk out of buying a home because it costs too much. They seldom talk about our performance of fiduciary duties positively. Even worse, we do it ourselves. People hear the negative frustration that we express but don't remember when we say, "That REALTOR® is a good agent (because they wouldn't share info about their client that our client wanted to know) because they are doing their job of keeping THEIR client's confidentiality! Changing our profession's reputation is a true dilemma that would take an act of God to change.
So what can we do? Do I call Marcie Geffner on her negative portrayal of the whole profession? Do we become adversarial? I think not. For me, the best action is to be the best agent I can be and impact the little circle where I live and work. It's like the changing of every other stereotype. We have to start in our little circle and take a positive stand there and hope the pebble we drop in the pond makes waves beyond its entry point.
My apologies for the Inman link. Since I am not a subscriber, it will deactivate once the next edition is published. Read it quick while you can!