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What Makes a REALTOR® Different?

Dave Robison

By Dave Robison

What is the difference between a REALTOR® and a regular old Joe with a real estate license?  Can anyone you’ve asked from the public answer that question correctly?  Better yet, can all of the REALTORS® in your office answer that question?   I feel like it was indoctrinated in me through continuing eduction classes.  So, from what I’ve been taught, a REALTOR® is this:  A REALTOR® is held to a higher standard because they’re a member of NAR and must follow the Code of Ethics.

Our MLS recently had WAVgroup.com do a survey on behalf of our members.  Marilyn Wilson from the WAV Group spoke at a recent meeting about the research they discovered regarding our industry.  First, she said that 99.9 percent of the public doesn’t know the difference between a REALTOR® and a regular old Joe real estate licensed agent.

What does that say about our strategy for educating people about what makes REALTORS different?  It says that it doesn’t work.  Our Code of Ethics is what we think makes us stand apart from other real estate agents.  But if the public doesn’t know… then it’s not working.

So why is it not working?  She exhorted that the level of service from one REALTOR® can be drastically different from another REALTOR®. This is actually the reason why I never considered joining a big brokerage… I didn’t want to be in a group where my level of service was drastically higher than the guy/gal with the same brokerage name on his or her name-tag.  There’s no minimum level of service at the big brokerages, and the service level varies between agents.

As long as there isn’t a minimum standard of service, no one is going to know what sets us as REALTORS® apart from licensees. The public doesn’t even recognize us as a club.  We will continue to remain commodities.

Do we want to be recognized differently?  Is it a benefit to be viewed differently?  With all of the REThinking this year, it seems to me there could be a good opportunity for REALTORS® to figure out what they want to happen on this topic. I’ll admit, I’m not really sure what REThink is thinking about. Most the people I talk to are confused about it as well.  But as an association, if the very reason why we are different isn’t working, maybe we need to adjust our vision on what we are trying to achieve that makes us different?

How would you adjust it?

Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is a broker/owner of Robison & Company Real Estate.

Comments
  1. In order to answer this question we must be honest about who we are as Realtors and what our organization is. NAR is one of the largest lobbyists in Washington. That gives us a voice in legislation that keeps us alive and thriving as an industry, BUT to do that we need money and that money comes from dues. To get dues paying members NAR has been very “flexible” about its requirements (i.e. there is no differentiation to the public from a part time Realtor, full time Realtor, etc.). So the question becomes how can we professionalize our industry more to create more value to the public without losing needed membership dues.

  2. Great article Dave! Totally agree…

    Helping REALTORS® stand out and be noticed for their professionalism and hard work is one of the big reasons we developed our app; Listings+. It provides shareable evidence of all the tasks that go into your job so that clients can see and appreciate the level of service they are getting.

  3. Very well said Victoria. The point is simple – NAR is about lobbying for the future of our industry. “I feel like it was indoctrinated in me through continuing education classes,” you wrote. Well not in Ohio. CE classes go through the state and have to be open to any licensed agent in the state of Ohio.

    And that NAR Ethics requirement that makes us “different” than other agents, well the Ohio Association of REALTORS elected to allow any class that meets the ethics requirement for the Ohio Division of Real Estate also meet that code. Hence, in Ohio at least, there is still no difference other than Realtors pay to be members of a national organization and the others don’t.

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