As a real estate agent, I am often asked to make referrals for a number of different services. It is really important to me as an agent that I refer my clients to good people. When a client calls and asks me for a plumber, lender, home inspector, accountant, baby sitter, etc. I make sure I refer them to someone that I know will do a good job for them. If I would not use them personally, they are not on my list. Many real estate companies charge these service providers a fee to be on their preferred provider lists, but I don’t choose to do business that way. I believe that who I refer a client to, who I choose to do business with, is a reflection of me.
As the real estate market has undergone its inevitable correction, I have found myself pitted against the leadership of the NAR. I am deeply disturbed by the endless stream of rosy “economic forecasts” put out by the NAR over the last 18 months. It seems that things are always going to pick up next quarter. When the quarter ends and things have gotten worse, a new forecast is released claiming the same story. What you need to know is that I am optimistic about the real estate economy of Salem, but I am realistic.
NAR is constantly stressing it’s COE (code of ethics) to consumers and all the reasons why you should hire a Realtor®. Being honest with all parties is the cornerstone of the COE. In fact, Article 2 of the COE says that we should avoid exaggeration and misrepresentation in selling a home. At the same time, the NAR has released multiple press releases exaggerating and misrepresenting the health of the real estate market. What does it say to the American consumer when the NAR misrepresents the status of the real estate economy? A blogger in Florida recently wrote this blog about his local association.
I am a firm believer that I tell my clients what I believe to be the truth, and then let the clients decide what to do. I work hard to make sure my clients understand their choices, and then respect their choice (even when I think they are shooting themselves in the foot). By attempting to make a sunnier picture of the real estate market than is accurate, they are taking the INFORMED choice away from the American consumer. Worse yet, their sunny forecasts in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary from all government, media and economist sources has had the effect of reducing the NAR to a organization of sales people and not professionals. Why should any consumer believe anything a real estate agent says when our national organization is engaging in misrepresentation? Like it or not, the NAR’s actions reflect on all real estate agents. How hard is it to say, “Yes some areas were hit really hard, some areas are holding steady, and a few are in a good real estate market”? I personally believe that the true character of a person (and in this case an organization) emerges, not when times are good, but when times are bad. . Their actions over the last year have harmed all real estate agents.
I have been fortunate to be a part of local Realtor organizations, which have been fantastic in their lobbying efforts to prevent transfer taxes, working on controversial legislation (if only legislators would have listened), and provide excellent information online and in newsletters. Never once did I, or do I know, question the value of my local Realtor organizations. I only wish the NAR would conduct itself the way that my local associations have. Unfortunately, my integrity has been to greatly rankled by the politics of the NAR this past year, that I have decided to not renew my membership. Before you think this has anything to do with money, it’s a whopping $80.00 to renew, plus a $30.00 public awareness campaign assessment (this is scary to me). The $110.00 cost of NAR membership was too high: my integrity was at stake.
I wanted to say thank you to my Salem Association of Realtors, and the Oregon Association of Realtors for serving Oregon real estate agents and consumers. If I were allowed to join just those two, I would. I wanted to thank my local MLS (Willamette Valley MLS) for giving me the power to choose.
I bid farewell to my designations (you have to be a member of NAR to use them) and the NAR. I hope that the leadership will choose in their new public awareness campaign to be honest about the state of the real estate markets, and present representatives to the public that are prepared and that can answer questions in an intelligent and coherent manner. I hope to be able to rejoin at some point in the future when the NAR decides to be an advocate for real estate agents and the American consumer.
I for one, think we all deserve that.