Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Full Time or Part Time Do you care?

Dear RE/MAX Sales Associates, Broker-Owners and Managers:

Taking back the industry

2009 proved to be a defining year for real estate, creating two very separate and distinct categories of realtor.

Experienced professionals, who stayed the course, adjusting to new conditions and adhering to solid business plans, were ideally positioned for the turnaround and emerged victorious from the downturn. The fair-weather realtors who were ill-prepared and panicked, who chose to bury their heads in the sand, were not.

I think it's time we formally acknowledge the elephant in the room.

Last year, one in five realtors failed to sell a home on TREB -- the largest board in the world. From what I understand, the same problem exists in smaller boards across Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

No one in the industry, however, has mentioned how this threatens both the consumer and the profession. Our industry is overrun by part-timers who lack the knowledge and experience to service their clients adequately. The ease with which they can hang a shingle and tarnish our profession is astounding.

Personally, I can't believe that no one has challenged this reality. With the exception of those sales associates that are new to the business – and we have some stellar rookies who have already achieved Platinum Club in their first year in the business -- and those that are winding successful real estate careers, I find it hard to fathom that one in five agents sell nothing at all. Fifty-three per cent do not do a deal a quarter yet are prepared to provide guidance to buyers and sellers making the largest single financial transaction of their lifetime.

Just who is looking out for the real estate consumer? Cab drivers? Waiters? This trend is not in the best interest of our clients, and if we, as realtors, want to raise the bar in the industry, this simply cannot continue.

Here are my thoughts on the issue. For starters, at least one-quarter of agents should be barred from trading in real estate…it's time to put the professionalism back in the profession. It's time we raise the bar and set new standards. If we don't, this group of unqualified realtors will continue to have a serious negative impact on the industry.

If this sounds familiar, it's because you've heard it before. One year ago, I talked about how uncommitted realtors were creating problems within the industry. However, at that time, economic concerns loomed overhead, a global financial crisis was brewing, and home sales had slowed to a crawl. We thought that the downturn would clean house, effectively purging the industry of non-producers and part-timers.

But the slowdown proved short-lived. And as real estate gained momentum, everyone jumped in it to make a fast buck. So it's time to get serious. We need to enlist your help and create a plan of action. After all, the greatest opportunity to raise standards is through licensing and we'd like to see stricter rules governing the registration of realtors. What about introducing a minimum sales requirement before licensing? Or an apprenticeship program where new sales associates gain valuable insight before they are licensed?

I challenge anyone in the industry to argue why a part-timer or non-producer should be allowed to trade in real estate. Stand up and please tell us how consumers benefit. Explain why Ontario needs 57,000 realtors.

My commitment to you will be to pursue this issue at all levels of government and associated organizations. I will call upon the leaders and directors of CREA, OREA, RECO and real estate boards in Ontario and Atlantic Canada to support me in this cause. These are excellent organizations, but all have built their infrastructure based on membership numbers. Is that in the best interest of the full-time real estate professional? Join us in writing to the Minister of Government Services, the Honourable Harinder S. Takhar at htakhar.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org and the Minister of Consumer Services, the Honourable Ted McMeekin, responsible for the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 at tmcmeekin.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org to request sweeping changes to rules governing registration and licensing to protect the integrity of the profession and consumer interest.

We'd all benefit from an industry overhaul. We see the impact of those mistakes time and time again. The committed, dedicated professionals that have devoted their lives to selling homes would give their eye tooth to get rid of the clutter and restore honour and dignity to the profession. After all, the lack of commitment and expertise among part-timers affects the entire industry.

We need to send the message, once and for all -- real estate is not a fall-back profession. This industry is not a circus. It's time we rid ourselves of the elephant in the room.

Michael Polzler
Executive Vice President and Regional Director
RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada Inc.

David Pylyp; Is he right or wrong? Are real estate companies filling the seats with anything that can fog a mirror? Recently, I was made aware that the TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board) has 31,000 paid up members. In the last few years I have;
  • Shown houses to prospects who at the final selection told me they would prepare their own offer. (He was a part-time agent) [I asked if they were under Buyer's Agency and told No]
  • Explained First Time Buyers rebates only to be told "My Manager was too busy and your website has all that great content"
  • Phoned an "Office" to book a showing and tried to leave a message on a cell phone.
  • Seen agents commission cheques delayed for weeks by large warehousing offices.
  • Called (paged) agents that can never been reached in the daytime for inspections, appraisals or any property particulars.
  • Endlessly sending offers by fax where my Buyer has asked to have his perspective presented and to be heard.
  • Asked to present the offer directly to the Sellers in the absence of their agent as for X% he was not coming out nor was he providing any FINTRAC documentation. In this case, I not only explain my Buyers contract but need to explain to this seller what his choices and that places me in a Dual Agency conflict; albeit acting for both sides.
  • Agents reduce commissions for another agent in conflict with an existing contract between a Buyer and his exclusive purchasing representative.
  • Listing Agents who do not search [inquire about] title to ascertain mortgage debt and the likelihood of a successful closing.
While I do believe everyone by should have the opportunity to enter a career in real estate, there need to be limits on the number of agents per office or more directly per manager; so that newer people have access to the resources they need. Some offices have a manditory 6 month apprentice period where you adopt a partner. The state of California requires two years apprenticeship.

My clients don't care how I look; they want to know that I will take care and be careful with their money; that I will help them fill their dream home wish list. To that end...

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