“Our original mission was to provide shelter and security to our communities,” writes Teri Conrad, a 16-year industry vet. “But somewhere along the way, we got lost in pursuing wealth and power.”

We have been complicit in redlining, steering neighborhoods, discrimination, endorsing financial strain, perpetuating misogyny, sowing fear, stifling voices, evading responsibility, and likely much more. I have exited toxic work environments and hustle culture and stand against it.

Our original mission was to provide shelter and security to our communities. Somewhere along the way, we got lost in pursuing wealth and power. The result? Homeownership is slipping away from our youth, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening. It’s time to refocus on our core purpose: Securing homes for those who need them. 

To those insulated from financial concerns, it’s essential to recognize that our actions reverberate globally. The turmoil, conflicts and division are rooted in scarcity-driven motives. This isn’t just about individual success; it’s about the world we’re building for future generations. The choices we’re making have a cascading effect. The bubble of privilege is bursting, and it’s time to be accountable.

Let’s address the harsh realities we’ve ignored for too long. Misogyny, elitism and discrimination are entrenched in our industry. The power imbalance is stark, perpetuating injustice. We must confront these issues head-on and dismantle these destructive norms.

While seemingly necessary, competition has mutated into a race to the bottom. Our focus on sales volume fuels skyrocketing prices, leaving many sidelined and others financially vulnerable. This relentless pursuit adversely affects our mental and physical health, trickling into all aspects of life. 

Our industry’s core values have shifted to prioritize money, power and self-interest. It’s time to redefine success, focusing on community impact, collaboration and equitable service. MLS providers and associations can be vehicles for change, fostering truth, ethics, transparency, inclusivity, collaboration and well-being for all, but they’re going to have to take a good strong look in the mirror.

The opacity around commission structures erodes trust. We need to address this head-on, discussing commissions openly. Escalating costs are widening the divide and eroding trust. Let’s break the silence, be upfront about costs, and work towards equitable affordability. Commissions must be reevaluated and discussed transparently.

The soaring cost of housing threatens our communities. Homelessness is no longer just a result of mental illness or addiction. The lack of inventory and skyrocketing prices lock out a generation of potential homeowners. It’s happening everywhere. This trend isn’t sustainable, and it’s our responsibility to reverse it.

We must recommit to ethics and transparency. Our moral duty to clients and communities must guide our actions, pushing us to challenge existing norms.

We’re at a critical juncture. Start-ups have been flooding the market to cash in, associations are wielding disproportionate power (some would argue top-heavy monopolies — I’m looking at you NAR and CREA) and our industry is over-saturated with vendors, MLSs, associations and agents. We’ve known this for years.

It’s time to shift our focus from individual gain to collective progress. A world dominated by a privileged few is not the legacy I want to leave.

Greed has already led us astray, impacting our environment and global stability. Our actions have consequences, and the world is more interconnected than ever. It’s time to embrace a new vision — one where abundance is shared and progress is inclusive.

We can reshape our industry’s narrative. It’s time to turn words into action. By holding our leaders accountable, leading with integrity, advocating for change and redefining success, we can create an industry that’s not just about deals but about making a lasting positive impact.

Real estate professionals, the moment has come to take a stand. There are so many good people in this industry who do so much for their communities and give back to the industry.

Embrace this call to action and work towards real change. Resist the urge to immediately defend and be open to some constructive criticism. Let’s chart a course for an industry that reflects our values and genuinely benefits society. The window for transformation won’t stay open forever, so let’s act with urgency and purpose. 

Possible solutions


Clearly, merging forces is an evident step. Consolidating resources and expertise can bring about significant improvements and eliminate layers of duplicated efforts. Stop running our organizations like for-profit businesses.

Nominated committees

Establish committees with diverse representation to ensure impartial decision-making and transparent governance. Create safe spaces for real collaboration and ideation.


Each of us needs to regularly evaluate our practices to ensure we’re not perpetuating harmful norms. It’s time for collective introspection and accountability.

Stricter licensing requirements, training and oversight

Elevate the standards for becoming a licensed Realtor. A lengthier, more rigorous process with experienced guidance to ensure professionalism and integrity.

Active participation

Engaging in the conversation and contributing our voices, ideas, and expertise is crucial to driving change.

Accountability for poor leadership

We must hold inadequate leadership accountable. Calling out blatant sexism and discrimination is non-negotiable. 

Reorganizing associations and business models

Revamp associations to be more agile, accountable, less hierarchical and in tune with the needs of the industry and society. 

External audits

Seek expertise from outside the industry to conduct audits, exploring strategies for consolidation and efficiency not just from a corporate structure perspective but also from consumer input.

Take a role in driving change

As I navigate my choices as a conscious consumer and long-standing member of this real estate community, I hold a powerful solution in my hands. When I determine where to allocate my vendor and technology investments, I understand the weight of my decisions in shaping the future. It’s not just about transactions; it’s about the broader impact.

I take a moment to pause and consider the ethos of the organizations I engage with, especially after my experiences working for a couple of large organizations. Are they solely focused on profit, wielding marketing spin or are they actively working to bring about positive change? Will they follow through on their promises? Have they created problems to solve? My choices carry the potential to be a catalyst for transformation.

Before we commit our resources, let’s scrutinize the intentions of these organizations. Are they genuinely dedicated to bettering the industry and society, or are they merely driven by financial gain? By aligning our investments in ways that prioritize positive change, we become an agent of influence in the real estate ecosystem.

Real change demands collective effort. It’s time for actions that match our words, reshaping the industry. We have to do better.

Teri Conrad is a 16-year real estate veteran with experience in sales, operations and industry relations. Connect with her on Linkedin.

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