Harris Interactive does a poll every year at this time on prestigious occupations.

Firefighters are at the top (one of my sons is a firefighter!) as well as scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, military officers and real estate bloggers (ok, ok that last one I slipped in to see if you were payin’ attention).

At the very bottom of the list were real estate agents/brokers after accountants, stockbrokers (no surprise there), actors (surprising given our celebrity culture) and bankers (yep, thats for sure).

I think NAR really missed out on a great opportunity during the transition from housing boom to bust a few years ago to be a trusted resource for the consumer. Short sighted thinking then is hard to erase from the collective consciousness.

Tomorrow is never too late.

16 Responses to “Real Estate Brokers/Agents Have An Image Problem”

  1. Edd Gillespie says:

    When did you start thinking NAR cares about who trusts Realtors? That’s just an ad campaign that is trotted out every time anybody encroaches on their turf.

    I heard they are selling real estate, period. And I think at some time in the past trust was exorcised from selling.

  2. Edd Gillespie says:

    I’m putting firefighting on the resume.
    Thanks for leaving appraisers off the list. I don’t even want to know, but it can’t be good.

  3. DR says:

    Wow, as a lawyer I was sure I’d be at the bottom of the list. I need to forward this article to all of my real estate agent friends!

  4. mortgage says:

    what about the firefighters, the most prestige occupations-quite hard to believe-yes very dangerous,but prestige. real estate brokers-for sure-less that that

  5. […] tip to the ever brilliant Jonathan Miller for the Harris poll chart/link. Hello there! If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to […]

  6. Edd Gillespie says:

    Looked at the historic Harris polls and the opinion of real estate brokers and bankers (the two professions appraisers rub up against often) is not something new. Actually all of it has been pretty stable.

  7. Can’t say I disagree. Just look at most agent’s ads. The ads are more about the agent then the client’s homes they are trying to sell.

    Agent-centric days are so over….but the agents don’t know it yet.

  8. freeltor says:

    Could it be that the whole Broker/agent model needs a revamp?

  9. Edd Gillespie says:

    Letterman spoke of a guy awhile back who wanted a job selling, but he also wanted to exercise the creative side of his imagination. Letterman suggested he might try real estate sales.

    The broker/agent model we have now has been evolving for quite awhile we are told, but we know it hasn’t changed much since Pharaoh was buying what an agent told him were fertile green pastures for the pyramids. My guess is the ability to sell real estate without reason or accountability (thanks to Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets for that line) will remain a high priority, far out pacing whatever may be in second place.

  10. Some things never change. Or is it that perception is slow, really slow, to catch up to reality.

    Check out your post and my response from October 31st 2005. We actually seemed to have slipped a little and I guess it’s no real surprise that the current market is not generating very many heroes, certainly not the broker.

    How could so much in real estate change yet this perception seems to be set in stone?

    According to the chart we are at the bottom (not nice but easy to rate) but to see that congress members are in the middle ground is alarming and more than a little embarrassing.

    The individual agent can go a long way to improve or create their image on a case by case basis but I think you make a valid argument pointing out that NAR, and some more local groups, could do more as an organization to elevate our prestige and trust. Thank you, Chris A. Randolph Licensed Sales Associate MLB Kaye International 1067 Park Avenue New York, NY 10128 O.212.828.7255 M.347.886.0020 F.212.436.5334 mlbki.com

    Mon 31 Oct 2005 A Record 59% Of Consumers Think Realtors Do A Good Job: Is This A Lot? The National Association of Realtors released a survey that said that public opinion about Realtors set a record high for the third year in a row [RISMedia]. Those surveyed were asked about the effectiveness of their Realtors and 59% found them to be effective. The NAR has been touting this as part of their 8 year public awareness campaign. Being a Realtor can be a tough job. Is it just me or is 59% on the low side? I am not clear why this figure is being touted so much.

    1. Chris A. Randolph Says: November 1st, 2005 at 1:45 am It is not just you, 59% is just not that great. I would imagine that this figure is being touted as good because it represents an improvement over earlier figures. A great many people simply do not trust real estate agents. The blame may lie in part with a few bad apples tainting the industry and hence peoples perception. Did you see the news article where various professions were rated according to their perceptions? Real estate professionals rated next to last, just ahead of attorney’s. The legal community, mostly hard working ethical individuals like real estate brokers, is also prone to this perception, probably due to the same reasoning. Excess negative attention from the media and a lack of a rational, clear look at what we really do. Chris A. Randolph Citi-Habitats New York, NY
  11. Edd Gillespie says:


    Following your comments, I wonder if the ranks of agents, like those of real appraisers, are swollen by inexperienced practitioners trying to make it happen? Most people may not have an occasion to encounter an agent who places something other than collecting his commission high on the list of priorities. I hear many stories about those abandoned by an agent that they really need to rely on. I took a class recently on appraising conservation easements and the instructor said there are two things that cannot be taught; character and teaching. Quite simply, I conclude people have become agents and appraisers, and other things also, who don’t have and can’t learn an indispensable ingredient of professionalism. Thanks for being an agent and having the courage to admit it in the face of bad news.

  12. mortgage says:

    firefighters- number 1-ok, i knew t

  13. Freeltor says:

    what we need is an alternative service. It can’t always be 6% or bust. What we need is a pay per service referal system that can benefit newer agents who lack experience but need cash. Plus information wants to be free. Brokers can’t hold on to information the same way google can’t charge for email. MLS must be open for all to list.

  14. Ed, Not only are the ranks swollen we are a business where virtually all the agents are career changers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I believe that you can bring whatever your previous experience was to real estate and make it a plus.

    However there are the “don’t get it” members of any profession. These are the ones who didn’t get it at their last career and while they learn the real estate ropes they will continue to overlook those things they never deemed important.

    It’s pretty easy (although currently ill advised) to get into real estate and once in we enjoy quite a lot of freedom. I like the model but it’s not the right fit for everyone. The ease of entry means anyone can do it, right? The freedom and independence means that mistakes and some of theses “mistakes” are on purpose happen.

    I cringe when I hear bad broker stories, I know it will affect me in some direct or indirect way. I know it’s not good for the industry, especially now when people need professional solidity.

    Your instructor is right, you can’t teach character or teaching. You either got it or you did not.

  15. Yalova Emlak says:

    So, real estate brokers are on the bottom of the “bad image” list. I wonder why this could be the case. Can firefighters or teachers cheat on customers? No. Can real estate agents cheat on customers? Oh yes. Thats the reason.

  16. Edd Gillespie says:

    Firefighters and teachers don’t have customers in the sense that agents do, and they, like humans everywhere, do cheat. I do think that firefighters and teachers have, to a great extent, a “calling.” Being “called” is what is mostly missing in the real estate professions of sales and appraising. Even politicians manage to muster up an impression that they are “called.” What happened to us?