By Anthony James
Recently, I heard a local REALTOR® make this statement over the radio: “Even a monkey could sell real estate in this market.” As a professional in the industry with over 11 years of experience, I get it. I understand the message this REALTOR® was trying to convey: The market is hot and homes are selling quickly. However, I don’t think a monkey could do our job.
Surviving the downturn of the local California real estate market and pressing forward in my career has helped me understand the true meaning of being a broker/manager. When the game changed in 2007, many REALTORS® were left to either sink or swim. This was the defining moment in a REALTOR®’s career. During this time, the monkeys were definitely scratching their heads and eating bananas while the real professionals rose to the challenge and figured out a way to claw through one of the toughest real estate markets our nation had ever seen.
And don’t just take my word for it, let the numbers speak for themselves: According to the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), the amount of people entering our industry has substantially slowed. In 2007, California issued about 44,000 salesperson licenses—a relatively high number—but only 11,434 salesperson licenses were issued in 2012. If the business of selling homes could be taken care of by a monkey, why is this number dropping at such an alarming rate? Wouldn’t everyone want to get in on the act?
Further, the misconceptions about our industry happen in mainstream media too. The lives of typical REALTORS® are hardly as glamorous as they seem on reality TV shows like “Million Dollar Listing.” The average real estate agent is earning less than $38,000 per year and it makes my stomach turn to see our industry misrepresented on television. The truth is, we work long and hard for our money and sometimes go weeks without a paycheck. Let’s recognize the reality and not attempt to minimize the importance of our role and what we do as professionals.
But the other issue I take with the “monkey” statement has to do with its source. As a community of REALTORS®, we must always be aware of what we are saying and how we are portraying ourselves to the public. Making a statement that a monkey could do our jobs gives off the worst possible perception of how valuable we really are to our clients. I can assure you that no monkey would be able to complete the hundreds of short sales and REO transactions I’ve been involved with in the past 11 years. If I would’ve asked a monkey to help me figure out how to close the 10-month short sale with delinquent taxes, liens, HOA dues, back child support, a seller who left the country, property damage, and three loans at three different banks, I know the monkey would have no answer.
Today, I want to challenge us to rise up as a community of young professionals and be extremely aware of the statements we put into our markets and give to local media. As the tide turns and the market continues its recovery, please press forward with a level of character, dignity, and integrity that shows our clients how essential we are to the success of their real estate needs. Our jobs are challenging enough and the last thing we need is to be compared to an animal by one of our own. Rest assured, this ain’t no monkey business—and you can quote me on that!
Anthony James is a Broker Associate and Regional Manager at RE/MAX Gold in Northern California. He’s been a REALTOR® for over 11 years and now helps hire and train agents for the 21 offices he manages. Connect with James at www.facebook.com/SacHomeMarket or firstname.lastname@example.org.