I was a Realtor®. I worked at the Milton office of Jack Conway & Co, Inc. or Jack Conway, Realtor from 1999 until 2003; the company, by the way, stylizes its name both ways. I was forced to be a Realtor® by choosing to affiliate with Jack Conway, Realtor because Jack Conway, the broker of record or managing broker, chose to be a Realtor®. What is a Realtor®?
Realtor® is a word made up in 1916, according to Wikipedia:
The use of the term was first proposed by Charles N. Chadbourn, in an article in the National Real Estate Journal in March, 1916. Chadbourn, then a real estate agent in Minneapolis and vice-president of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, wrote “I propose that the National Association adopt a professional title to be conferred upon its members which they shall use to distinguish them from outsiders. That this title be copyrighted and defended by the National Association against misuse… I therefore, propose that the National Association adopt and confer upon its members, dealers in realty, the title of Realtor (accented on the first syllable).“
The word “Realtor®” is owned. Somebody actually owns the word “Realtor®”. Paris Hilton owns the phrase “That’s Hot!℠”. Who do you think owns the word “Realtor®”? The National Association of Realtors (NAR)? Nope. Rupert Murdoch, the founder of News Corp.. News Corp. bought Move, Inc. in 2014 and Move, Inc. owns Realtor.com®.
That’s only a small part of my beef with the NAR. I opened up Jonathan Bowen Real Estate, LLC in 2003 and I had toyed for some time with the idea of becoming a Realtor®. Fast forward to 2006. Any good real estate agent, broker or Realtor® could see the writing on the wall. The real estate market had started to collapse. The advertisement below and others like it during that time, sponsored by the NAR, were ubiquitous.
When you have a family, it’s always a good time to buy.
It’s a great move up market.
In this market, there’s a lot of options.
The interest rates are low.
It didn’t make sense for us to spend the same about of money renting something when we could own it.
Working with a Realtor® took all the guess work out.
This is the best market in years, in terms of choice.
Interest rates are at historic lows, home choices have increased and prices are favorable.
Every market’s different, call a Realtor® today.
If we didn’t buy now, we would’ve missed the opportunity on this home. Yeah.
This advertising campaign infuriated me because the real estate market was collapsing all around us. The advertising campaign was clearly focused on first time home buyers when prices were highly inflated. The NAR clearly didn’t give a shit. I didn’t feel good about selling real estate to first time home buyers at that time so I generally didn’t. I shifted my focus during the real estate collapse to contractors, builders and developers and I sold lots of real estate to that type of buyer and I’ve since made them lots of money. I was glad that I wasn’t a Realtor® at that time but I was being lumped in with them because of this unethical advertising campaign.
And speaking of ethics, the NAR likes to advertise the difference between real estate brokers and agents and Realtors is that Realtors are held to a higher standard, the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, than real estate brokers and agents. That is the biggest tub of dung. Some of the shadiest real estate brokers and agents that I’ve met have hidden behind the Realtor® Badge.
The NAR didn’t, and still doesn’t, speak for me but its message affected me. I can’t support a trade association like the NAR that doesn’t speak for me and I feel like real estate brokerages that do are only perpetuating this problem with their continued association with and, more importantly, their requirement of having the agents under their umbrellas pay dues to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) and other local Massachusetts real estate boards.
So what are the benefits of becoming a Realtor®? In my experience, the only tangible benefit was a subscription to Realtor Magazine, which was actually trending on Twitter today, and was the initial inspiration for this post. That monthly magazine cost me about $400 per year which is much more expensive than a Hustler subscription. Sure, there’s the Realtor Benefits® Program wherein discounts abound but I never used most of them. GBREB liked to tout that I could call their attorney at any time with any issues or questions related to my real estate practice and it may actually still offer that benefit.
There’s also the opportunity to take classes in order to earn Designations and Certifications like the Accredited Buyer’s Representative® (ABR®) designation or At Home With Diversity® (AWHD®) certification. Imagine a real estate agent named John Smith showing up at your home. Imagine John Smith handing you a business card. Imagine looking at John Smith’s business card. Imagine his business card stylized as:
John Smith, ABR®, ALC, AWHD®, BPOR, CCIM, CIPS, CPM®, CRB, CRE™, CRETS, CRS, e-PRO®, GAA, GREEN, GRI, MRP, PNM, RAA, RCE, RSPS, SFR®, SRS, SIOR, SRES®
Lulz… How would you even fit all those worthless certifications and designations on your business card?! I know, you probably wouldn’t. Or would you? You better have either Ed.D, M.D. or Ph.D on your business card or nothing at all after your name.
I feel like the NAR feeds off the insecurities of new real estate agents by offering these certifications and designations when, in reality, a competent person with any sense of common sense, a solid back bone and a good worth ethic can sell lots of real estate. You don’t need this stuff!