Sadly, when I hear the word “trust” and “real estate” in the same question – my mind really turns to salad dressing. They just don’t seem to mix at all. We need look no further than YouTube to see evidence of the public mistrust of real estate “professionals”…and yes – that word is in quotations for a reason – and here is why?
This was something of a shock to me. I came from a field that garnered a great deal of respect, but it took YEARS of post-graduate education to be considered a professional. Yet, in just 8 weeks – attending class twice a week – I was licensed to help the public purchase or sell what is generally their biggest financial asset. Does anyone see a disconnect here?
The result has been a cadre of agents – some with significant business – that appear to have nearly nothing between the ears. This is simply because the process is not selective. Many agents have indeed applied themselves to the process and have acquired a great deal of knowledge through their licensing classes, CE classes and designations – as well as on-the-job. The trouble is, since almost everyone passes, how is the consumer able to evaluate these agents.
If its easy to get started, why not try it? And thousands upon thousands of people do just that every year. If you can’t throw a rock without hitting an agent then there are simply waaaay too many agents for the amount of business available. Since agents are only paid when a transaction closes, that creates fierce competition for every qualified buyer or seller.
Desperation is a powerful motivator and it will induce many agents to do or say literally anything to secure the buyer or the listing. I always refer to the monthly list of expired listings as the “feeding frenzy.” There are agents that are all over hundreds of homeowners a month like a bad rash.
When buyers walk into open houses they often feel as though they are under assault by an army of agents all of them trying to convince buyers that they are the only buyers agent for them.
If agents have any doubts about how the buyers and sellers feel about the predatory behavior – the videos below pretty much sum up public sentiment:
Does this in any way benefit the consumer? In a word, no! Although it gives buyers and sellers lots of choices, with no obvious means of discrimination, it turns the selection process into nothing more than a crap shoot. Meanwhile, agents pile on board plying any seller that will listen with their saying their “guru marketing package” that they promise will garner more than market value for their home. Its absolute nonsense – and when it doesn’t work as advertised it feeds into the seething level of mistrust and anger. No agent can beat the market because we don’t control the market. We can only respond to the realities of the market and get for our sellers the best price the market will bear.
How on earth does the consumer know who to trust? Many resort to the lowest common denominator. Sales volume. Buyers and sellers look to the agent with the most signs in the ground or the largest sales volume. Or some move to their favorite “trusted sites such as Trulia and Zillow and give a shout out to one of their “preferred” neighborhood “experts.” The trouble with each of these methods is that they don’t tell you much of anything.
Many top producers are excellent. However, some are not. How did they get there? Many got there through their own merit and built their businesses brick by brick. Others not so much. Ethically challenged agents come in the form of low, medium and even top producers. If you have a name, they will have sales. But how did they come by that production? If the successes are hiding a carnage of cancelled and expired listings, then where does that leave the seller?
Trulia and Zillow? Forget about it. Consumers mistakenly trust these sites. Many seem to think that these “area experts” are carefully vetted and hand-picked for their competence and performance. Ah…..no…. Agents PAY for those spots. If your plastic is good, you have a license and are willing to pay to play, then you too can be a preferred agent – even if you have never sold a home in that area.
Don’t get me even started here. Between the liar loans, the repackaged mortgages for whom the notes are missing, the unwillingness to proceed with short sales or loan modifications – it is small wonder that home buyers and sellers have had their sense of trust shaken to the core.
My point here is that the real estate industry has come by the public contempt the old -fashioned way…we have earned it. The question is whether the industry has a whole is committed enough to make the changes necessary to restore the public trust. I’m sorry to say that I’m not holding my breath.
© 2012 – Ruthmarie G. Hicks – https://thewestchesterview.com – All rights reserved.
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