I am not referring to the classic “show me the money” scene from the movie Jerry Maguire – but rather, the mission statement where Tom Cruise’s character abruptly leaves his company. After experiencing a life-altering epiphany, he finds a new purpose where integrity, best in class work and client needs become his primary focus.
How does this apply to the real estate industry? It is because for better or worse, every profession carries a certain stereotype and ours is far from exempt. Ask anyone about real estate agents and you will receive a wide range of responses – good and bad.
Despite certain opposing views, I am extremely proud of the expertise and extensive services so many industry professionals provide. I see excellence firsthand every day across a variety of firms and markets. I unfortunately also see the other side. So, how then can we as a collective group change the negative perception many have of brokerage?
Increasing our Own Standards
If we ultimately want to change how we are viewed, increased experience and educational requirements are a logical place to start. A series of weekend courses and a 150 question, multiple choice exam is not sufficient to become a real estate agent today.
We need to take our profession to a higher level and that can’t start without a serious discussion surrounding changing the barriers to entry. This could come in varying forms but what about separate licensing for residential and commercial real estate agents? Each requires a unique set of skills and clients deserve an agent that has more than just basic knowledge. Fortunately, there are opportunities for certification and distinction through organizations like SIOR, CCIM, and NAR to name only a few. However, these are not requirements.
Mentorship & Continual Development
We must mentor the next generation on the importance of character and continual development. New real estate agents need to understand this is not a get-rich-quick occupation. It requires sacrifice, hard work and learning the finite details of a highly complex business.
Right now, there is a period of massive change occurring in the real estate industry. Technological advances are altering how we communicate, share data, and market properties. Staying in front of these trends requires a mindset of continual improvement.
Increase Public Awareness
This profession is so much more than hanging signs and executing contracts, but the typical layperson often mistakenly understates what we do. It is our responsibility to educate people about the extensive work that occurs behind the scenes – uncovering the right opportunities, understanding market trends, evaluating properties, handling offers, etc.
We also collaborate with highly skilled people who possess specialized knowledge every day: attorneys, city planners, architects, contractors, developers, banks, and asset managers. We are often that unique link that brings them together for the betterment of our clients.
Average work simply isn’t good enough when assisting business owners, investors and families with multi-million-dollar decisions. It is up to all of us to represent our profession with the integrity it deserves. Establishing higher standards would go a long way in helping change perceptions about our industry.