Andrew Wetzel's Musings

March 25, 2019

Living Up to Being a REALTOR®

Filed under: Ethics,Hiring an agent — awetzel @ 5:17 PM

While becoming a Real Estate agent is relatively easy compared to many other professions having less impact on the public, becoming and remaining a REALTOR requires an added commitment to a formal Code of Ethics.  Living up to its ideals takes effort; failing to do so has consequences for the agent and the public.

Many in the profession believe that it is far too easy to get a Real Estate license.  Until recent changes were made in Pennsylvania, you needed to take two 30-hour classes, pass a test in each and then pass a state test.  That requirement has been increased which is good as neither of the classes really prepare agents to help sellers and buyers with their largest purchase.  Much of the “real-life” training, including how to run your own business and understanding the law, the rules and regulations, the paperwork and the process of completing a Real Estate sale continues to fall on the agent and their office.  Most agents who change offices seem to feel that their office did not support their professional development.  While perhaps true, an agent must be motivated and take the initiative to learn more.

Becoming a REALTOR requires attending an ethics class and joining a local REALTOR association.  Why wouldn’t someone take that extra step as the benefits far outweigh the additional effort and cost?  Perhaps if the public understood and embraced the difference between agents and REALTORS that would change.

To maintain a Real Estate license, you needed to complete 14 hours of state-required mandatory continuing education every two years and a nationally required ethics course every four.  Our local association requires that we complete an additional course every two years which covers the content of national course.  While recent changes in Pennsylvania changed the requirements for entering Real Estate and maintaining your license, which is a good step, it is still harder to become a hair dresser than to get a Real Estate license.

In addition to the ongoing education requirement, we have to pay dues for renewing our license and continuing to be members of our REALTOR association as well as paying other ongoing assorted fees.  Compared to many people who start and run their own businesses, we have it easy.

There are well over a million REALTORS in the United States, about half of all Real Estate licensees.  As I have explained, a typical licensee really has to do little to earn the right to advertise him or herself as a REALTOR.  However, I strongly believe that we need to do a great deal to live up to the high expectations we place on each other and ourselves even if many in the public think we are all the same.  The most obvious difference is that REALTORS have a Code of Ethics.

I would like to draw a distinction between being a REALTOR and earning designations or certifications.  I am an Associate Broker and hold several professional designations and certifications offered by the REALTOR community as well as performing several roles for my REALTOR association.  Earning these credentials and meeting the challenges associated with each of them took a great deal of time and effort.  They have ongoing obligations and I have to live up to their standards!  You can learn more about them and their requirements and see my professional qualifications on my web site.

It will be interesting to see how the profession evolves over time.  All agents have minimum standards as established by the PA Real Estate Commission while REALTORS have a higher set of expectations as exemplified by our Code of Ethics.  I would like to see all agents comply with our Code of Ethics regardless of whether they are members of our association or not.  I think the public deserves the accountability that goes along with such a set of established standards.  That probably will never happen so, at best, I hope that the public comes to realize the difference between agents and REALTORS.

There is no time for inexperience, empty promises or false expectations!

Remember:  HIRE WISELY!  We are not all the same!

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