REALTOR® Reputation

Real Estate Agent with Tangletown Realty

REALTOR logoBack 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! 

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Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

I'm with you Bonnie, I hate reading all the negative, all the time, from the media about REALTORS(R). But, you know I'm guilty of it too. I'm always writing about what takes place in my business everyday and unfortunately quite a few REALTORS(R) on the other side of the transaction come out looking bad. I guess I need to try and come up with some positive stories. Just wish I had some:) OK thats not true I have done some deals with some very good agents on the other side. At least, unlike the media, I'm not just making it up.

I bet they want my car (98 expedition) and my money. I wonder if they want my $5,000 a month in marketing bills too? Probably not.

Mar 05, 2007 08:51 AM #1
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Well said, Bonnie. It really is troubling and I do not see that anything has changed in recent years, and perhaps with the changes in the it has gotten worse. The media has not been helpful, including the recent interviews on TV and more. We really do it to ourselves, in many ways, since people remember the bad stuff more than they recall the good. And they are more likely to talk about it.

Perhaps more talk in the ranks about the great job that REALTORS do, when that occurs. Featuring different situations on blogs might be one avenue. I have had some great experiences with some agents, as well as some bad, but much more of the former. So I know it exists.


Mar 05, 2007 09:07 AM #2
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


I am now wondering if Broker Bryant put the good Realtors in his blog posts whether or not he would lose his readership. Interesting thought. The negative is what attracts the readers just like with the media...

Sorry I'm a little off topic. I guess I'm thinking through my fingertips :-)

Whoa...I take back that 'sorry'. You have a comment disclosure. Cool. Love seeing that. SVW (smiling very wide)


Mar 05, 2007 10:09 AM #3
George Tallabas
RE/MAX Advantage - Nampa, ID
Idaho Real Estate
Bonnie, like a good friend of mine always says...."Take the High Road".  We can't change other people or thier opinions of us but we can change ourselves and be people that stand for integritiy and honor.
Mar 05, 2007 10:32 AM #4
Monika McGillicuddy
Prudential Verani Realty - Atkinson, NH
NH Real Estate Broker
I agree with George take the high road BUT man it's hard to do sometimes! I just want to spit!
Mar 05, 2007 01:16 PM #5
Kelli Fronabarger
Bend River Realty Inc. - Bend, OR
Realtor - Bend Oregon
Nicely written, though the topic is not one I particularly enjoy. There will always be those whom you cannot convince, please or make happy. True in ANY business. I rather devote my energies to the clients and media who do believe in me and want my help. Let me affect the thoughts of those in my circle of influence. Good post : ) 
Mar 05, 2007 01:16 PM #6
Julie Chapman
DR Horton - Lakeland, FL
New Homes Sales Lakeland Florida

As a Broker who sets my standards for myself and my agents to the highest in the industry, what happens is the other Realtors and their Brokers dread dealing with me.  I only expect from them what I am willing to give professionally and personally.  But remember, your Broker sets the tone for the office.  Brokers should lead by example. In our state, if a Broker witnesses a violation of Real Estate Law, we are required to file a complaint to the Real Estate Commission.  I hope this is a law everywhere and all Brokers can change the industry by not allowing unethical or unprofessional conduct by their Realtors.  My office command a large percentage of the market on reputation alone as I track the origination of all my sales.  My office offers agents greater opportunity due to the amount of referrals we get on reputation.

Mar 05, 2007 01:40 PM #7
Kaye Thomas
Real Estate West - Manhattan Beach, CA
e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA

Bonnie- Excellent post.. I think much of it is our fault for not pushing our state associations for more stringent requirements for licensing..  If we require higher standards the public will eventually think better of us... as it is now the main requirement by most states is whether or not the prospective agent  passes the mirror fogging test.

No one will respect us if we don't start respecting ourselves....

Mar 05, 2007 02:13 PM #8
Carmen Prince
Crye-Leike Realors - Atoka, TN
Affiliate Broker
Good Post Bonnie. I agree with you.
Mar 05, 2007 03:20 PM #9
Boomer Jack Boardman & Carl McIntyre, the Codgers
Noted Curmudgeons - Saint Paul, MN

It seems that with all direct sales (auto, siding, real estate, insurance, among many) commission occupations the few ethically challenged practitioners give their professions a huge black eye, far in excess of their actual number.

Jay & Medford

Mar 05, 2007 07:01 PM #10
Carole Cohen
Howard Hanna Cleveland City Office - Cleveland, OH
Realtor, ePRO
I've never been able to put my finger on it for sure, but somehow it seems to be tied into the fact that this is the biggest investment people normally make in their lives...buying a home. Bonnie, you have always been good about detailing all the little and big steps you take to get deals to close. I'm not so sure all of  us do that. In fact, there is some thought that not letting the clients know keeps their stress level down and on us. Or, is it still true that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people? In which case there is too much fodder for the negativity? Whatever it is, I agree with you, I don't like it!
Mar 05, 2007 10:40 PM #11
Irene Potter
ZipRealty Residential Brokerage - Maple Valley, WA
Creating moving experiences in real estate
Let's take this back a step. Who hasn't heard the phrase, "If it bleeds, it leads" a common axiom that is applied to tv journalism? Much of journalism is focused on the sensational. Is it any wonder that what's sensational is also negative?
Mar 06, 2007 07:41 AM #12
Dan Weis

I agree with you Bonnie.

We need to do the best we can as Realtors, but also continue to educate the public as much as possible.  With the birth of blogs everywhere and now USAToday Online allowing individuals to have a blog, it's all the better for us as real estate professionals to counter the negativity of the media.

Spread the word!



Mar 06, 2007 08:56 AM #13
Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing


Greed, materialism, love of money and the power of politics within it all and a couple of others things are what drive the majority of agents in this business....some agents just think the whole thing as well as life is just one BIG GAME and they are out to "Win it all"....

There are a "handful" of agents out there who are genuinely there for the clients best interest...are NOT out just to make as much money as possible.... and genuinely think of others 1st before themselves.....

Some of them are even in this network.

THOSE agents are the ones I stay close to.......    =-)

Mar 07, 2007 06:33 AM #14
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