I am not a toaster

Real Estate Agent with Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon


You asked.

We gave you what you wanted, but the power of the dark side was just too great for the wanna be Darth-Vader-Home-Seller.

It isn't a big secret that real estate agents have really low entry standards into a profession that helps people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a purchase.  I swear going to toaster selling training is often more intense than the classes that real estate agents have to do to sell homes to people.

We're special that way.

Consumers know this not-so-well-hidden industry secret, and so you do what you should do.  Try and figure out which agents to use and which ones to avoid.  We all know that even though entry standards are inadequate, there are exceptional real estate agents in this industry.  Since our industry seems reluctant to make it harder to join the club, some of us try and educate consumers.  I know several agents that spend time on consumer forums trying to help consumers wade through the real estate industry.  I'd like to think that we succeed in getting consumers to ask good questions and interview agents.

toasterBuying a new toaster on Amazon?  You'll know which ones burn your toast, which ones give you crisp perfection along with poached eggs, and those that will emblazon a smiley face on your toast.   You have the wisdom of several others to guide you with this intensely important $20 purchase. Let's face it.  Starting off your day with burnt toast is a precursor to Armageddon.  Toast matters.

Stumbling through the mire of agents, consumers screamed for real estate agent ratings.  Since we won't clean up our own muck, you need a way to get through it yourself.  I get that.   The problem is that some consumers get that too well.  Real estate agents have been balking at participating in online reviews because we don't want to demean ourselves to well...being like a toaster.  Which agents will burn you, which agents will pop up for you, and which ones go the extra mile for that smiley faced surprise at the end. Both you and I know that consumers can make or break someones success as a real estate agent with just a click of a star.

Enter the power grab.

I recently heard about a real estate agent, who is a really great agent by the way, who was threatened during a listing appointment with this..."If you don't cut your fee, I will write a bad review for you online."

Really? I mean really?

Online transparency is supposed to make it easier, a way for consumers to decide they like or dislike something from the ease of their comfy leather chair with, hopefully if you read your Amazon reviews, perfect toast with a nice homemade strawberry jam. It isn't supposed to be a way to force people into bending to your will with threats.

I think online reviews are good for the real estate industry because it places some power back in the hands of consumers, but dear consumers, you are welcome to love me or hate me.  Don't try and extort me.

I am not a toaster.


This was originally published on the Get Real Estate Blog.

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Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Melina, Who is this Paul guy?? There used to be someone that looked like him on AR :)

Feb 02, 2011 01:43 AM #15
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

He escaped from Hades.  Don't worry...they'll capture him again. ;-)

Feb 02, 2011 02:16 AM #16
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Melina - I was talking to a co-worker yesterday and this subject came up and we we wondered if the Realtor/agent had an opportunity to respond to the bad review.  For example, at Cobalt we have a page on our company website where we rate and review our vendors and servicers; it's called the Good, Bad & Ugly.  However, if one of our vendors or servicers gets a bad or ugly rating or review, they do have an opportunity to respond and perhaps defend and/or explain their actions or behavior.

So, using your example here, if a consumer rated you bad because you wouldn't discount your fee, would you have the opportunity to say that the consumer threatened to give you a bad review if you didn't cut your fee?  I haven't checked the site out to see how these reviews are posted but I was just curious about the way that it is done.

Feb 02, 2011 03:21 AM #17
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

There's always those kinds of people who aren't getting the attention.  They are jealous so they say nasty things about you, in some feakish way it makes them feel better!!  Sad isn't it!!


Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

Feb 02, 2011 06:34 AM #18
Bob Zorechak - ABR, GRI, e-PRO
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan - Morristown, NJ
Sells Homes in Morris/Somerset/Hunterdon Cos., NJ

I agree with your comments regarding the low threshold for entry into this business.  In NJ, the time spent by someone going for their real estate license is a fraction of someone who is aspiring to be a hairdresser.  At least with the latter, your hair will grow back....

Feb 02, 2011 06:45 AM #19
Susan Mangigian
RE/MAX Preferred, West Chester, PA, RS152252A - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County Homes, Delaware and Ches

Ha!  Told ya!

Feb 02, 2011 07:27 AM #20
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Ha! I'm with Susan - the suggest thingy still WORKS.  Now, did someone say something about dimples?  

Feb 02, 2011 07:38 AM #21
Steve Cota
The Samford Group - Austin, TX
Central Austin, TX 512-431-8408

It's becoming harder to build value in real estate agents because consumers can do a lot of their own.  Or so they think.  Having a rating system will only be as strong as the weakest link: consumers.

Feb 02, 2011 08:13 AM #22
Craig Hatcher
Georgia Residential Realty, LLC - Atlanta, GA

Good points. I am all for ratings, it's just they are very subjective.

Feb 02, 2011 08:19 AM #23
Mary Stewart
HomeTrust Real Estate, LLC, Homes for Everyone - Wilsonville, OR
Wilsonville and Surrounding Portland Metro Areas

I think I am very naive.  I have had client or potential clients ask if I would consider reducing my fee so they could save a little money and I tell them no.  Then I explain it is not for the amount of work I do and all it takes to actually make their (the seller's) home finally sell. Would they do it for less if they were me.  There are agents out there that sell for minimal fees, but the seller gets exactly what he pays for.  Good Realtors are worth every penny they earn and it is not easy work in my mind.  Certainly not 9 to 5 hours, 40 hours or less work a week.  Luckily I have not had negative reactions from sellers, they figure if they don't ask, they don't get.  Its o.k.  

Feb 02, 2011 08:21 AM #24
Tammy Emineth
Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing - Marysville, WA
Content Marketer, SEO Teacher, Website Fixer

Melina -such an excellent post. And I have thought of that for years, that you don't even need a highschool education to get your real estate license yet people are trusting you with million dollar purchases at times. I do think reviews of some kind are reasonable such as testimonials and client comments. OF course as the agent you can pick and choose the best ones for broadcasting but then there are always going to be those lone ducks that have nothing better to do than write a bad review for the sake of harming someone. Excellent post.


Feb 02, 2011 08:54 AM #25
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Melina -- I am all for 100% transparency, as long as there is objective validity in the process, as if someone really has an unfair axe to grind that can't be substantiated, it's unfair, but such is life in the online world.  My only goal is to beyond satisfy each and every client, and if I do that, I hope the future will take care of itself.

Feb 02, 2011 09:23 AM #26
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

I am not afraid of REAL reviews by clients, but do think there will be some fake ones or bad one that are put out by disgruntled people when it's not the agent's fault.

For example I heard through the grapevine that someone blamed me for "taking his deposit." I represented the seller. He had a buyer's agent. He defaulted on the contract. Yes, I guess I "took his deposit." He badmouthed me in town because he felt I was a rotten person and he would never recommend me. Hmmm... how do you think he'd rate me online? 

Feb 02, 2011 09:33 AM #27
Susan Mortenson


Your blog produced two reactions (reactions are good) in me. 1st: Shame on the extortionist. This is a new low to hear about, at least for me.

2nd: I cringed a bit when you spoke of real estate agents having a "really low entry standards" profession. I believe I understand your point, in general, but must respond by saying there aren't a whole lot of professions doing background checks with the FBI and fingerprint checks. Oh yeah, my credit standing was checked, also.

I've met far more good agents than bad ones. Dave Doeleman, a Realtor for decades and GRI instructor, once said that the general perception of the public is real estate agents take advantage of the public.  In all his years as an agent, Dave said he'd witnessed it to be the other way around--the public taking advantage of real estate agents.

I like your style of writing. Thanks for a good and provocative post.  I hope business is good in Salem.

Feb 02, 2011 10:49 AM #28
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist

Online ratings can be very subjective....especially if there is a malicious person out there.  I look at the reviews on Hotels.com when booking a place to stay and you would truly be surprised at the DRASTICALLY different opinions of people that have all stayed in the same place.  Sometimes,  you actually get what you pay for.  A real estate agent is no different in that respect!  Great discussion.

Feb 02, 2011 11:14 AM #29
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

Steve I actually think the opposite.  The real value of real estate agents is in their wealth of knowledge...assuming the agent takes time to amass knowledge.  No consumer has been in as many houses as I have.  They just can't have the same knowledge base that I do.  That knowledge has value to a consumer.  The thing is that consumers don't want paper pushers and door openers.  Agents that have shifted to an advisory role seem to be doing well in my area.  Agents that stay old school door openers aren't doing well because they don't bring anything to the table.

Susan-I'm not sure how a criminal background check equates to competance.  We are dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars here.  Training agents in basic land use law, land sales contracts, trust deeds, zoning, etc should all be part of our training before we get thrown out to consumers. 


Thanks all for comments.

Feb 02, 2011 12:00 PM #30
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

Oh, Melina! Who knew that you had the power to force Paul out of his self-imposed exile???

I suppose we don't want to drag him back kicking and screaming along the way.

And you are most definitely not a toaster. A nice gas oven, perhaps, but never a toaster ;-)

Feb 02, 2011 01:26 PM #31
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite - Edmond, OK
Realtor, Team Lead

I too am in support of online reviews and think they're long overdue, but any person who would stoop to a threat or action as you've mentioned here is dispicable.

I'd certainly take a walk, and even if that scumbag wrote such a review, it would be overshadowed by all of the positive reviews that my real clients have written. The average consumer is smart enough to see through that BS.

Additionally, my attorney would have some fun running the scumbag through the wringer and taking more than the measly amount he might have saved in real estate commission.

Feb 07, 2011 04:13 PM #32
Susan Mortenson
Coldwell Banker Santa Rosa - Santa Rosa, CA
Susan Mortenson


I was responding to your statement, "low entry standards." Once a person has gained a license, it would be up to principal brokers to weed out the incompetent agents.

As for competence, I've known many--yes, many--attorneys who were shockingly incompetent.  To this list I can add doctors, engineers, architects....and the list goes on.

I don't respond for argument's sake, but you've thrown out some black and white words to describe my profession. (Some might say condescending and harsh words.)  Again, I'll assert, I've met far more good agents than bad ones.



Feb 08, 2011 07:37 AM #33
Melina Tomson
Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon - Salem, OR
Principal Broker/Owner, M.S.

Susan this is my profession too.  I am the owner of the brokerage.    You are welcome to think that the real estate entry standards are adequate.  We will just have to disagree on that.  I personally think they are horrendous for the huge purchase price of homes.  I'm not the only one who thinks that we are missing the boat here.  1000 Watt Consulting has the same opinion that I do.  Most agents aren't good. 

It's okay that you and I disagree on that.

Feb 08, 2011 12:57 PM #34
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