Real estate agents embrace social Darwinsim – the unending quest to “thin the herd”

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CharlesDarwinThe title pretty much says it all – but I should add the caveat that agents embrace social Darwinism when the herd being thinned does not include THEM.

Before continuing further – full disclosure here – I am a full-time agent.  I do sometimes work as an adjunct professor of biology/natural sciences.  But such work is very part-time and more because I enjoy it than for income. (I’d be in a ton of trouble if I relied on teaching for income.)

There have been several recent blogs about the war between part-time and full time agents.  It kind of reminds me of the war between stay-at-home vs. working moms of the 1980s.  Each camp is armed and dangerous – and with fewer sales to go around – the goal is the extinction of competition that they feel is squeezing their ability close enough sales in order to survive.  It’s kill or be killed so the waring parties are in opposite fox holes exchanging fire.

I don’t know what it was like before.  I came into this industry at the tail end of the boom. Productivity was already heading well south and new agents were hated beyond belief.  When I walked into my first brokerage – bright-eyed and bushy tailed – I was greeted with a  mixture of out and out hostility and anger combined with smug amusement.  Skirmishes between the long-term full-timers and part-timers were common.  Over the next few years this escalated to out and out warfare.

“Part-timers are better because they aren’t so pressed to make a sale…There is nothing worse than desperate agent breath!”  Major artillary

“Full-timers are available 24/7/365 – a part-time agent means part-time service and a lack of dedication. ”  Saturation bombing.

Blah, blah, blah!

Two recent articles by Bernice Ross showed me just how explosive this issue has become.  The articles – Crackdown on independent contractors and 8 reasons we need independent contractors, and  were actually about the potential loss of the independent contractor status for most agents.  But the comment stream led me to realize that in war of the part-timers vs. the full-timers  we are at DEFCON 2 and the leaders on either side of the argument are ready insert the brass keys and launch their ICBMs.  Rather than looking hard at the issue itself – many chose to view it through the lens of “how can this work to thin the herd.”

Some of the comments included:

” Elimination would allow brokerages to run themselves as real businesses. Training, coaching, team work, company and individual goals and on and on. Such a breath of fresh air.

“The agents who sell one or two houses a year would be gone leaving more for the agents who take this business seriously.”

“If 50% of the agent’s left the field, it would probably be the agent’s who are not committed to being in real estate.”

“If it curtails or eliminates the part time agents it could not be a bad thing. They cannot answer their phone or return calls while mixing paint or selling merchandise. Many are not being fair to their agency, peers, or clients.”

“There are way too many non-professional and part-time agents in this business…. It is time to professionalize this business and hire agents with years of experience and industry knowledge, who have taken the time to get their CRS, their GRI, and many other real estate designations.”

“Memo to Bernice: It’s 2010 and the real estate buying public is one hell of a lot smarter than the average Realtor slug! Improvise, adapt and overcome or go the way of the Fuller Brush Man!”

Note that the article wasn’t even ABOUT part-time agents…Also note that the responses rather CONVENIENTLY cast the surviving agent’s mold in the image of the poster.

To me it comes down to professionalism.  I’ve met some very professional and attentive part-timers and some real laggards that were supposedly full-time.  Do we need to raise the bar?  Absolutely.  I think demanding an apprentice period along with a more intensive course of study is in order – perhaps even a two-year degree.  That would get rid of dabblers trying to turn a quick buck.  But I draw a line of  distinction between part-timers and dabblers.

© Ruthmarie G. Hicks – – All rights reserved.

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