The Bloodhound Blog’s Greg Swann has been making his argument for elimination of agent licensing altogether. Call me busy (I have it on authority that the cat-who-hates-Steve just hurled her Fancy Salmon Feast again), call me distracted with other issues of import (paying my utility bill and my quarterly taxes weighs heavily on me right now), or accuse me of lacking the Big Thinker gene (“big” as in larger than Paris Hilton’s legal bill). I disagree with his proposition that occupational licensing is criminal, but I lack the mental agility and clarity of thought to tackle this weighty thesis this morning. That would require self-sequestration in a windowless room appointed only with black lights and the soothing background sounds of Ayn Rand’s talking book series.
What I am prepared to argue, however, is that we are already there. Sure, strictly speaking, we have real estate licensing requirements. Greg’s world, one with virtually no barrier to entry, is essentially upon us; the day when everyone is a de facto licensee is today, because the majority of the adult population it seems does in fact have their license!
My past week has been rich and full of bad-agent experiences. I have seen the devil, and he is wearing a cheap suit… or, at least, his cousin is.
Mega-Agent– I haven’t personally spoken to him, I will never meet him, but his ad campaigns tell me he is bigger than life. Trying to submit an offer on the behalf of my client on one of his listings has been an experience akin to swimming the English Channel. He is a busy, busy guy. He is so busy, that each call to his office, calls in which I identify my purpose and ask to speak with him, is met by a “Is there something I can help you with?” screening from the receptionist. Once, when I had finally, successfully navigated my way to the Marketing Manager, I felt so empowered that I was ready to take out my own ads. “Kris Berg is connected in the real estate community. Her vast Network includes Mega-Agent’s Marketing Manager!” I did finally receive, at one point (underscore “one”), a perfunctory call back to voicemail from The Man, The Man who does not publish or otherwise give out his direct phone number. “Ah-ha!”, I shrieked, scrolling through my call records. “Now I have his number!” Blocked Caller.
Mega-Agent Wannabe – He is looking for a home for himself, but he is smarter than I am. I know this because he tells me it is so. Every conversation begins with my being reminded that he is the “#1 agent for (company)” in the county. Every conversation except the last, that is. The last one began with his statement, “I hate old people”. I am not kidding, and neither was he, as he proceeded to tell me why. Apparently, they are indecisive, they take up too much of his time, and they tell long stories. How dare they! I’m trying to negotiate an offer with this nice man, and they are wasting his time with stories! Oh, and after assuring me that, despite the fact that he had offers on several homes at the moment (my listing being one of them), he would honor our contract if the sellers signed, he reneged. No problem that my clients left work for two hours to sign a steaming mound of documents in good faith. I guess he is just smarter than I am. One word, Mister – Karma.
The Con Artist – I thought that the voice message said that her husband was an agent, but that he is in China. She assured Steve on the phone, however, that she was unrepresented and that he misunderstood. Later at the showing (at 8:45 PM to be exact), after more than two hours of discussion involving price and terms of an offer, the olive branch was generously extended. Steve would be allowed to represent her… for a 2% “rebate”. It seems that the husband isn’t an agent, that much is true, but the cousin is! Steve never confirmed his whereabouts, but it is presumably China at the moment. I guess they have fax machines.
The Con Victim – “I have a strange question. Did you get an offer from me on (property address)? We came to the open house and told our agent two days ago that we wanted to make an offer, but she isn’t returning our phone calls. I saw on your website this morning that it is in escrow. Was it us? Oh, wait, we probably would have had to sign something.” Tears followed. You can’t make this stuff up.
I have got at least a half-dozen more personal examples of an industry run amok from just this week alone, each more painful than the next. So, you see Greg, you win the argument but we are all losing the war. Licensing requirements, while they exist, are simply straw men. If you want anyone to be able to practice real estate, I am here to tell you that they already are.