Special offer

Is Real Estate Brain Surgery?

Industry Observer

Most of us have heard, and many of us have made statements to the effect of, "Real estate is not brain surgery (or rocket science)."  There is at least one real estate professional who would likely dispute that, as President-elect Trump has tagged retired brain surgeon Ben Carson to run HUD. 

No, real estate is not brain surgery, and brain surgery is not real estate.  Does being a real estate professional require the skill level, training, or mental ability similar to that of a brain surgeon?  My answer is that it depends.  NAR's favorite REALTOR, Phil Dunphey certainly comes up a little short.  Some of the people in the business come up a little short in product knowledge and common sense.  Some of them have even achieved a reasonable level of success in the business.

Real estate is not unlike other professions that also have their fair share of intellectual underachievers.  The legal field has its share of losers, including some who have managed to earn a good living anyway.  Same is true with accountants, politicians, even doctors.  If we were to judge the merits of a profession by its poorest performers, none would look very good.  If judgment is to be made, it should be on a standard of performance, and most professions seem to come out at least OK.

Most professions require some combination of academic achievement and demonstrated expertise via testing and licensing.  Real estate is not an exception to these requirements, but the initial bar is set fairly low.  That low bar may be what contributes to what I see as a division among licensees.  Some recognize that the bar is low and strive to improve on their competence, and the more they learn, the more they realize that they must continue to learn.

Then there are the folks who think that, because they managed an 85% on the exam that they know everything about everything.  They often scoff at voluntary continuing education, labeling things like ABR, GRI, and CRS as meaningless letters that won't make you any money.  They fail to recognize that, even if the letters don't make money, the journey may make them smart enough to understand how much they still have to learn. 

Although many designations do not belong to the folks who earned them (NAR rents the title to you for an annual fee), the knowledge derived from meeting the educational requirements is theirs forever.  Have you ever heard anyone who retires from real estate say that they regret learning so much?

Posted by

 Mike Carlier  Lakeville, MN




Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I like the last line of your post too especially...great stuff!

Dec 28, 2016 07:17 AM
Mike Carlier

One of the nicest people I have met in the business once made the comment that she felt continuing education requirements were a waste of time.  She said there was nothing to learn, and she meant it.  Sadly, many people choose a real estate salesperson with little criteria other than personality. It sort of works.  When something goes bad in a transaction, being really pleasant to the agent on the other side and asking for help will often get them to handle the issue.  The client will never know.

Dec 29, 2016 06:14 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster Real Estate - Gainesville, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

I'm always proud to prove the low expectations people have of real estate agents wrong.  You can never know too much to be in this industry.

Dec 28, 2016 01:55 PM
Mike Carlier

I would rather justify their high expectations, but that would take an image change, but I don't think that that's part of the association's agenda.  Interesting episode on Modern Family (rerun) last night.  Phil the REALTOR was having trouble selling a house that was the scene of a murder.  His daughter started a social media marketing company, and she got scores of potential buyers to the open house.  She told her father that her company would expect a percentage of the commission, and he did not refuse the request.  With a spokesman like Phil, there will never be an expectation of excellence.

Dec 29, 2016 06:21 AM