Most of us need a real estate agent when buying and selling a home, but we do not deserve a bad one.
The consequences of too many incompetent real estate agents are scary: disgruntled buyers and sellers, out-of-control transaction costs, and contingent legal liability for sellers, brokers and good agents.
Let’s face it, some very bad practices by some bad agents contributed to the subprime crisis and the Great Recession.
Plus, bad agents taint the entire industry — giving it that bozo image that makes us cringe.
Here is my list for fixing this mess:
1. Raise standards for obtaining a real estate license. The bar is ridiculously low, equivalent to proposed standards for obtaining a dog-walking license. The requirements for becoming a stockbroker would be suitable. Consider the stakes: The average savings and retirement account equals $101,000, and the average home price is $172,000.
2. The industry should get behind a major initiative to publicly rate and rank all agents.
3. Someone should create a Glassdoor for agents, an anonymous posting service that compiles information on businesses — an Internet Better Business Bureau with much more punch.
4. NAR should stop enabling the growth in agent numbers. The giant trade group is rewarded financially for growing its member ranks.
5. Franchises should stop their agent-count bluster. When firms brag about how many agents they have, they should be called out for hurting consumers.
6. The industry should put pressure on state licensing agencies to beef up policing and put bad agents in jail. We need some photo opps of agents being hauled off to jail.
7. NAR should require MLSs to publish all data that they collect on agents.
8. Good agents should be showcased by NAR, brokers and franchises. Greater transparency will help make that happen.
9. Brokers need a new business model — recruiting every Tom, Dick and Mary who walks in the door is anti-consumer.
10. Training should focus more on ethics, the law, best practices and customer service, and less on dubious sales strategies and feel-good, pom-pom-girl, pump-you-up boosterism.
Add to my list.
Brad Inman is the founder and publisher of Inman News.