I have never heard anyone say that the bar is set too high and that it is too hard to become a Realtor. Take a few classes, pass a test, get a license, pay your dues to the National Association of Realtors and you are a Realtor. It all takes two to six weeks, depending upon which state issues the real estate license.

Getting a real estate license and becoming a Realtor are easy. A person who just got a real estate license probably is not qualified to write a purchase agreement, and many would not even know how (I know I didn’t).

I have never heard anyone say that the bar is set too high and that it is too hard to become a Realtor. Take a few classes, pass a test, get a license, pay your dues to the National Association of Realtors and you are a Realtor. It all takes two to six weeks, depending upon which state issues the real estate license.

Getting a real estate license and becoming a Realtor are easy. A person who just got a real estate license probably is not qualified to write a purchase agreement, and many would not even know how (I know I didn’t).

Then there is the whole NAR thing. Yes, we are held to a higher standard. I don’t think I even read up on what that was all about until I had been in the business for a couple of years. There is no initiation into the NAR, and anyone who has a license and can pay the dues is a member. I am not even sure I understood what I was a member of, or even that I was a member.

Now that the housing market has become so challenging, I have heard industry veterans claim that the "bad agents" will be weeded out because there isn’t enough business, and now that things have gotten so much tougher those "bad agents" will crash and burn.

Sadly, I don’t think the economy or the housing market will weed out any more bad agents than it does good agents. The bar to entry into the business remains very low, and success or failure is based on sales ability, the ability to find clients, and money management skills — not on ethics or professionalism.

It is a self-eliminating profession. People who don’t make enough money at it quit — few ever get thrown out unless they do something illegal.

I like to think that the agents who don’t do a very good job won’t get any repeat business, but doing a good or a bad job is in the eye of the beholder. I have met some agents who have made my life a living hell, but in the eyes of their clients they are still the best.

We all have buyers or sellers who don’t like us, but life goes on and so does our business. It isn’t like other businesses, where it costs less to keep clients than it does to find new ones. In fact, it is actually cheaper to find new clients than it is to keep old ones.

The bar is being lowered in our industry every day, as agents scramble to make a buck. There are more agents than ever who refuse to return a phone call. …CONTINUED

Last week, while showing condos to a client, I believe I ran into the rudest agent ever. My client wanted to leave as badly as I did. I know that I have been lied to by more than one agent during short-sale negotiations.

The economy and the housing market are changing the way agents do their jobs, but I don’t see any evidence that "bad agents" will be weeded out, and the bar for entry is still low. As real estate companies struggle for head count, any licensee who can fog a mirror is in.

Our clients and the general public don’t really even understand what we do or how it all works. They are ignorant of what our code of ethics is and they don’t know when we are violating it. They just want to buy or sell a house.

They think that Realtor is an occupation and don’t understand that it is a designation we get as members of NAR. Heck, most can’t even pronounce Realtor. They introduce me as their "real-it-ter."

If we want the standards to be raised it will have to come through local legislation, because real estate is legislated at the state level.

Good luck with that, though, because when there is job loss and the economy and housing market are struggling it is unlikely that your state legislature is going to do anything that will make it harder to be a real estate agent.

There are too many people who need jobs, and too many other issues that need attention.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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