by Brian Delaney
Last month Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President of RE/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada, wrote an open letter to all Real Estate Professionals addressing what he called “the elephant in the room.”
According to Mr. Polzler, 20% of the members of the Toronto Real Estate Board failed to close a single transaction in 2009. Mr. Polzler further asserted that according to some estimates, 70% of agents in many of the larger brokerage offices failed to close one deal per quarter (less than 4 transactions per year). Finally! Someone has had the guts to stand up and address the single largest threat to hard working Real Estate Professionals who take this business seriously.
The statistics are no different here in the US. Recent estimates suggest that the 80/20 rule is closer to 90/10. If you doubt that, just take a look around your own market or even your own office for that matter. More than 50% of all agents sell less than 4 homes a year; are these people prepared to provide guidance to consumers making the single largest financial transaction of a lifetime? Not likely.
There is a storm brewing and the aftermath in the real estate industry is going to resemble a Midwestern town after a F5 twister blows through. Let’s face it; the time has come for a thorough housecleaning.
There are three steps that must be taken to reverse this situation and take back control of the industry.
First and foremost education must be a top priority. From the NAR and State Associations to Local Boards of Realtors, there must be a complete refocus of resources to insure that ALL agents are required to fulfill educational requirements that go well beyond the current Continuing Education Credits. Perhaps bi-annual testing should be administered to insure that licensees are up to speed with the latest information and rapidly changing regulatory environment.
Brokerage houses both big and small must require training that will provide all agents with the tools necessary to conduct business in a professional and competent manner. Apprenticeship programs should be put in place so that when someone new enters the business, they get at least as much guidance as a plumber, electrician or carpenter receives.
Secondly, unproductive part-time agents need to be shown the door. Admit it…it’s time. This business simply cannot be conducted on a part-time basis; transactions are too complex and there is too much at stake.
Last but not least, transactional data needs to be made transparent. Consumers deserve the right to know who they are dealing with when they are considering a particular Realtor as their “agent.” Sellers also deserve to know more about their agent before listing their property with a part-time agent who engages in 2 deals a year.
Realtors who devote their full time and energy to this profession deserve every dime they earn and every bit of recognition they receive. To be successful in this industry requires guts, energy, resourcefulness and ingenuity. For full-time agents there is simply too much effort that goes into doing it right to allow those who wish to do it as a sideline screw it up for everyone.