We’re in it together…Time to start acting like it!

In it togetherJPG

Every morning, when my wife and I wake up, there is some type of connection. Either holding hands, snuggled together, etc. It’s not always been that way, we’ve faced a failing marriage together and come through on the other side. However, that effort has taken close to ten years and many fires to walk through. We realized that we were in this marriage together and that it was us against the world and not against one another.


I use that illustration to lead into my rhetoric for this post. I want to liken being a real estate practitioner (whether REALTOR or not) to a marriage. I have struggled with the “blog-sphere” for almost a year now, because in many cases it’s simply being used to attack everything and everyone. There are more than enough anti-Realtor blogs out there and strangely enough, they aren’t just from consumers.


Real estate practitioners need to take a hard and long look at who they are attacking. If we continue to spend such significant effort and energy attacking one another or the National Association of REALTORS, then what energy are we left with to build or re-build the industry? I am not, at all, talking about knuckle-headed stuff, like how to pronounce Real-a-tor or if it has to be all capitalized, or have the copyright. I used to care about that stuff. But we have some real honest-to-goodness things we need to fix in the battlefront, before we can attack the Empire.


Each time I read an anti-REALTOR Spokesperson Blog, I cringe. I rarely remember the author, but I always remember the negativity of the post. If we can’t stop the infighting, than how are we going to work on the publics perception? The public’s perception of your professionalism is where you make your money. Many of these post illustrate rants (many ill prepared) but rarely a valid solution. Don’t complain if you can’t make it better or aren’t willing to roll up your sleeves and try.


I see it everyday in the newspaper ads and online: “I’m a multi-million dollar producer” – and then we get ticked when the consumer thinks REALTORS make too much money.  “If you want an honest agent – call me” – as if to say, everyone else that works in real estate is out to screw you. I’m the only one who can save the industry! “That so-and-so from NAR has screwed it up again” as if to say that the consumer makes the distinction between you the citizen, and the empire.


On a more “battlefield” mentality, how often have you called the listing agent with a home inspection addendum, only to find them defensive and slightly abusive? GET OVER YOURSELF. The purpose of negotiations should not be to “slaughter” the other agent. The purpose of negotiations is to find a peaceful and professional point of agreement to get to settlement. Isn’t that what the consumer hired you for – to buy or sell property? Too often, agents want that badge of honor to gain respect from their client “I really had to go to the mat with that so-and-so agent to get this for you.” Here’s a hint – they don’t care and often the battle you choose would not have been the battle they would have chosen.


Our clients want us to be professional and professionalism is not attacking, it’s getting results in a respectable manner. The opposing agent should be your best friend in a transaction. You will probably have to work with them in the future and we’re judged on our village, not the lone warrior out to battle the masses – most of the time it makes you the martyr or a fool. Strangely enough historians make that distinction, and not the martyr/fool.


I firmly believe that the real change in our industry and the Association will only occur if it starts with you and me and not “them.” Focus on good customer-centric practices and involvement in the machine and you will see positive results and change over time. To me, it’s simply lazy to write four paragraphs about it on a free blog and then not take any substantial effort to change it. I fully agree that change is desperately needed, I just don’t agree it’s someone else’s job.

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15 Responses to We’re in it together…Time to start acting like it!

  1. Funny I am working on a post right now about two transactions I am having, one with an agent who is polite and respectful and another with an agent who is adversarial and rude. When we work together as problems arise in a transaction we can provide much higher quality service to our clients. We should always remember that the other agent is a person. If they make a mistake, or fail to send a document they should still be treated with kindness and respect.

  2. Candy Lynn says:

    This post should be required reading for all REALTORS.
    VAR President Pat Jensen – “Together we CAN”
    Pat has a saying from an African Proverb:
    “if you want to go fast – go alone; if you want to go far – go together.”

  3. Tony Arko says:

    When a license is so easy to obtain and one of the main goals of the national association is to increase headcount, you will have to deal with unprofessional agents with no training, no education and little if any guidance. The public perceives us as unprofessional because you don’t have to show any inkling of being a professional in order to be a REALTOR. Take a test, pay your dues, you are a REALTOR. There are some professionals in the business but the majority of the people that are REALTORS will never be professional. That is the business model of the real estate industry.

  4. I appreciate folks disagreeing, not many will take the time to share their thoughts. I have to save the short of requiring a college degree, folks who want to get into real estate will set through just about any pre-licensing requirement because they think a pot of gold is awaiting them on the other side. I agree that the pre and post requirement training should be much, much more inclusive, but I can hardly blame the association for so many people thinking RE is a get rich quick plan.

    How many “Make a $100,000 a year” recruitment pieces have you seen from brokers? We all have a part in making it better and not just voicing our bitterness.

    I am forced to ask of licensees who are so hateful of the industry, if it is so bad and unprofessional, why on earth would you want to be associated with it?

    I completely agree that minority of practitioners are truly professional, which is probably why less than 25% of Realtors can actually survive off of the income made being one.

    The mere fact that only a minority of Realtors maybe professional, does not give me cause to dismiss the rest as helpless. I think that if Brokers started increasing their standards, it would help the industry as a hole. I don’t think that I can blame all the “big boys” for all the problems in the industry.

  5. Tony Arko says:

    Is it worse to complain about the lack of standards and the out of touch national organization or is it worse to complain about the complainers pointing out what they believe is the problem with the industry?

  6. Mike Farmer says:

    Tony, Ha! No, it’s actually the same thing.

  7. I suppose it’s semantics. I’ve not disregarded the issue that the industry has problems, and don’t feel that this post was a “complaint” about the “complainers”, as much as a reminder that progress and improvements need to start at a more local level and work their way up. I gave up long ago thinking I could fix “big brother”.

    I think rhetoric without action is a waste of my personal time. So, I feel that if I’m going to write, it isn’t going to be about the splinter in another’s eye, while there maybe a log in my own. (Hopefully that’s how I come across)

    I think that yelling at NAR is easy, because we know that for the most part they won’t fight back against their own members. However, to take personal responsibility and ask others to change their mindsets, as I had to alter mine is much more difficult.

    I feel that by positively influencing my co-workers, to influence the Broker, to influence the Local Association, to influence the State, to influence National is a better plan, then just writing that the industry stinks.

    Does it stink, yeah… it could be better. But you and I are going to have to work together to get there! I’m willing to listen to suggestions and do my part… I can only assume that everyone else is as well.

  8. oops, almost forgot to add… I am not taking a position of superiority over another in their position as a complainer. I am one of the biggest complainers out there! So, to ask which is worse? Mike is completely correct – it’s the same. Which is why there should be mutual respect for another’s opinion. Professionally agreeing to disagree should be the most sacred element of the bloggers creed. I don’t dislike anyone for having an opposing view (least not for business issues). Somewhere between your point of view and mine is the real answer.

  9. Tony Arko says:

    I think that the fingerpointing and name calling is definitely counter productive. But there is some good that comes from a blog like narwisdom.com that has actually caused the people at NAR to stand up and take notice and now they are actually taking part and listening if you can believe that. I think a message like “…start acting like it” is just as counter productive as a post that says “NAR Sucks”.

  10. I will agree that the title can be taken out of context. The call was for “acting” or doing something, as opposed to complaining. I am a reader of NARWisdom, but I no longer comment, because there was no grace or room for opposing views. I think Jim Duncan’s post on AgentGenius, title “Engage Us” http://agentgenius.com/?p=1352 was very productive in getting communications with NAR. He did in one post, what other anti-associations did in a hundred.

    I think it was because of Jim’s approach of opening dialog and not attacking.

    I’m the first to say that I know I can do better in this area.

  11. Tony Arko says:

    Agreed. In a world where only your words communicate it is important to read before you hit submit lest someone take something the wrong way.

  12. Yes, change has to begin with us, and a positive attitude is “key” to accomplishing anything, yet it would be nice if someone at the top would join us in our efforts. At this point, we have no choice but to communicate, one at a time, the value of our services and our industry to the public. Those of us in the blogosphere are doing our best to accomplish this. If enough of us keep it, who knows… maybe eventually we’ll succeed!

  13. Sometimes it just starts in your own block doing all you can for your neighbors it kinda gets paid forward inturn they come to you for advice and situations to work on in the community and little by little it grows. People being involved and taking steps to fix it and not complain about the problem.

    Sounds silly but years ago lived in Florida during the 2004 hurricanes. It took everyone pitching together to get it done and when we all stood back and saw what we did wow what a feeling. I think when you go thru an experience that that you realize the power of one and power of 10 can do.

    We had no food, water, transportation, no gas, no electric, no phones. Many had home damage and debris everywhere. It was a huge task everyone pitch in and did there part to clean up the area to check on neighbors and organize a once a day search for food and water till Fema arrived days later. We all sat in our yards sharing what we had to eat and putting it all together to cook a pot of stew on the barbeque. You have never know the joy when 200 and I mean 200 FPL Electric trucks pull into your town and one by one bring your back up. They came from all over the country our guys were from Louisianna and such a great group and so polite and I love there accents and demeanor and they joined us and people one by one took food to the local mall parking lots where they slept at nights.

    I think then for me was a time we all learned how to work together and what joy and happiness comes from it. It was hard work. Cutting trees down and getting trees to the road. The rubbish was pilled 10 feet high down all the roads about 8 feet deep everywhere. People came from all over the country to remove the debris in trucks. Neighbors helped one another do temporary repairs to homes. People car pooled as the ports filled with sand and large ships could not come in and bring gas and bridges where out to the west. Employers closed downa and many continued to pay employees. ATMs were down and money was an issue. We all now know what to do and how to prepare.

    Sorry about the long story but was a memorable time!

  14. Working together is the best choice and you can achieve much doing this. Many are just afraid they have been taught to fight and protect your own but when you look to growing as an industry in your area not just you office we have so much to share with each other.

    Lets remember the movie “Miracle of 34 street” how Macy’s and Gimbels work together and the business grew. It’s ok to refer a client to another business and it’s okay to call another business for advice. It’s gonna take a huge effort to sell all the foreclosures and grow this industry.

  15. Great post and looks like you have motivated many already to work together. I think this is one of the advantages of bloging is that you take with you renewed energy to make a difference in what we do each day. This is the secret nobody discusses and is true blogging empowers you. Knowledge and community thoughts is helpful is accessing an issue.

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