One Very Honest Opinion of “Realtors”

Thursday, May 10

I’ve read and heard numerous opinions of real estate licensees comment on the Realtor vs. “just an agent”, and I am about to share my own (warning: if you’re offended by blunt or cynical, you will be offended by this post):First, to set the background: I am a licensed agent in two states (covering parts of Ohio and Indiana). I am also a real estate investor. I wear both hats because I like it, and I’m on the side of the fence who believes it’s easier to have a license for some investing activities.I also have the Realtor designation – not by choice, but solely by requirement. That’s because it’s mandated in order to have access to the respective Board of Realtors’ MLS systems. I am required to pay dues to each MLS system in order to use them, and that’s fine. But I’m also required to pay dues to the local and state Boards, as well as the National Association of Realtors, which frankly, I detest more than any tone I could imply in print.Yes, I know, as some of you are already getting on your soapbox, that Realtors are required to subscribe to a code of ethics (which, by the way, are all common sense to an ethical business person anyway) in order to have the “privilege” of using the title.The National Association of Realtors has done enough marketing over the years (made possible by millions of dues-paying members) to make the general public believe that a Realtor is an actual profession, and not just a (BS) designation/membership for which real estate salespeople PAY to have. The emphasis there is on “salesperson”: that is a Realtor’s profession. Their wares are just bigger and more expensive than those of most other types of salespeople.Does most of the general public know the difference, or the purpose of the Realtor designation? In my experience, no, they don’t, nor do they give a d**n. Most people (including many Realtors, by the way), aren’t even able to pronounce the term correctly, and for the record, it’s NOT “real-a-tor”(!). Yet, when I hear the mispronunciation I don’t bother to correct it, because, well … what’s the point?Those (and it’s always Realtors for some reason) attempting to explain the difference between an agent and a Realtor usually sound like know-it-alls with high-horse attitudes, as if paying those dues makes them a more ethical person. Newsflash: it doesn’t. You can’t put a price tag on morals, ethics, and integrity. I’m sure there will be many comments disagreeing with my statements here, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t argue with my last statement.The most corrupt, self-serving, and conniving licensees with whom I’ve had the misfortune of doing business are (still) Realtors. THEY are the ones who give those of us who are ethical a bad name, NOT those licensees who (are fortunate enough to) have a choice not to join just to have access their local MLS.Any other politically-oriented association solicits contributions from members and the general public, but NAR is the only one I can think of that makes it practically mandatory just so that licensees are able to do business. In return, its membership sees actions that are reactive instead of proactive when it comes to the economical issues affecting their business, and it’s partly because they and their lobbyists march to the beat of one drum: retail buyers and sellers (that’ll be a topic for another post).If you’d like to own a firearm, are you required to join or contribute to the NRA? No. If you want to invest in real estate, are you required to join your local REIA? No. Frankly, the NAR is worse than labor unions (also unnecessary if you are a responsible employee with a good work ethic, but that’s a whole other issue). Just like the few remaining labor unions, the NAR is a political organization that exists primarily for its own sake, period.The NAR is finally(!) realizing that there’s more to the market than owner-occupant sales, and that a bank mortgage is not the only to way to finance a real estate transaction, although I’m pretty sure it’s only because you’d have to be living under a rock to miss it at this point. Hmmm …. sellers can’t sell because buyers can’t get loans; whatever will we do??I received an email from the local Board last fall to alert their membership that “working with investors can increase their client base, and their volume of business”. Wow, really??? Nothing like getting on the train as it’s leaving the station. Now all they have to do is tell their membership that wholesaling is not illegal, and that creative financing is what they need to learn to move more  inventory and in turn, help the housing market recover. I won’t hold my breath waiting. Besides, the low prices around here make for killer cash flow, and killer deals!So, the bottom line is this: I don’t need to pay dues to a (for-profit, politically-oriented) association to show the people with whom I do business that I’m an ethical person – I prove that every day through my actions and business practices. If given the choice to subscribe to the MLS without joining the Board of Realtors, the NAR would not receive one penny from me, EVER.Ohio’s Division of Real Estate regulates licensees’ activities; they could not care less about a licensee’s memberships or designations. As an investor, I always disclose that I am a licensed real estate agent in all my business dealings, and that’s good enough for me, the State, and my customers and clients. And I don’t use the term “Realtor” in ANY of those dealings, and I’d be willing to bet that nobody cares.
Christina Keeton
Real Estate Investor & Consultant
OH and IN Agent
Cincinnati, OH


Excerpt from: One Very Honest Opinion of “Realtors”

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