Distrust of Real Estate Agents

Sometimes I feel like everywhere I turn I find television shows, newspaper articles, books and blogs criticizing the honesty of real estate agents.

It is funny, because this stereotype is so dramatically different than the feedback that I receive from my clients.  I have been told over and over how grateful my clients were for my help, how stress free I made the transaction and how they would definitely work with me again or refer me to their friends and family.

So why the disconnect? Who are these distrustful real estate agents who are giving the rest of us a bad reputation?

I know that in every industry there are the 'good, the bad and the ugly.' What I don't understand is the constant bashing that we receive.

Is it  because of the way we are paid--commission only? Is it because the public does not think we have adequate required education? Is it because of our visibility to people at all income levels? Or are we all perceived to be 'rich?'

What could we do differently to improve our reputation? For those of us who have chosen to work in real estate as a career, and not just a job, this is a constant irritation.  While I don't think it affects my daily work, I would love to be able to have people understand how proud I am of what I do when I tell them I am a Realtor.  Instead, while I stand proud of the path I have chosen, I see the puzzled looks and the implied, 'why is she doing that when she is smart and well-educated?'

I am proud of what I do and look forward to a day when the public percieves us as their ally and not their enemy.



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Comment balloon 10 commentsHolly Weatherwax • August 25 2008 10:21AM


Holly~ I too am so proud of what I do and it is a shame that some of the public perceives us like they do.  But there are bad apples in every profession so I don't let it get me down.  I am definitely an asset to my clients and they figure it out early on.   

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 10 years ago

My thoughts....

1) The public has no idea what is required to get or maintain a license.  Further, they do not care.  However, they expect someone who is a professional to be just that.  It takes dedication to learn how to do something well and it is too easy to be a RE agent without being dedicated. 

2) Because it is easy (relatively) to become and remain an agent, the industry is hyper-competitive.  Many consumers don't understand the benefits (beyond price) of choosing one agent over the other.  Agents know this and often disparage other agents, buy listings, etc in order to gain business.  Too many ignore ethical and fiduciary responsibilities. 

3) Two things need to happen to really clean up the industry.  First, make licensing requirements tougher.  (Higher fees, more classes. apprentice programs, etc).  Second, educate consumers about the values that agents provide and about the RE transaction process in general.  

Posted by Erik Hitzelberger, Louisville - Middletown Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes) over 10 years ago


Wow, it is unfortunate that you have to feel this way. I'm glad it's not affecting your daily work. In our world it seems everyone needs someone to blame...chin up! You're doing right by your clients. How do i know? Because you "stand proud of the path you have chosen"!

Posted by Rebecca Schrader (Competitive Insurance of Dundee) over 10 years ago

Holly, there are as many personalities as there are people practising real estate as a career. Is it any wonder there are some disreputable or kooky agents out there, we are made up of the general population of a very diverse country. Be all you can be and your clients will appreciate you, and don't worry about things you can't control - we are offering personal service, and there will be good, bad and ugly agents. Steve

Posted by Steve Loynd, 800-926-5653, White Mountains NH ( Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., ) over 10 years ago

Hi Holly, like you I am proud of what I do and enjoy doing it.  I believe the percentage of untrustworthy agents are very small and when a person runs into a not so honest agent, they tell it to everyone they can.  I feel my reputation is very valuable and I would not ruin it whether I was a Realtor or not.  Great post!

Posted by Lorinda Ward, Serving, Hampton Roads Virginia. Norfolk, Chesapeake, Va Beach (Keffer Realty) over 10 years ago

Take a look at all the paperwork that you need to prepare when listing or selling a property.  I know in California it is a HUGE stack, even for a simple land purchase.  The problem that we face is that there are bad ones out there today, but also the ones that came before us that caused so much ill will and distrust that we have contracts that even the lawyers have trouble deciphering.  The distrust runs way back in the industry -- it didn't happen overnight and it won't go away overnight. ~ Evelyn

Posted by Evelyn Panning (Property Connections Realty Inc.) over 10 years ago

Holly, great post!  We too love the profession of Real Estate.  My thoughts are that the media specifically will look past 100 examples of good agents to get the story on the one bad agent.  I also believe that negativity sells, so it is easy to bypass positive stories of Realtors.  I also think that we as Realtors are lumped in with other people in the sales profession and it seems in my life, I remember bad experiences with sales people much more than I remember the good experiences.  This is true even though there may only be 3 or 4 negative experiences compared to the hundreds and thousands of good experiences.  Thank for your post!

Posted by Tony & Darcy Cannon, The C Team (Aubrey and Associates Realty) over 10 years ago

good post..most people don't have a clue to what we do..my clients are very satisfied with me..

Posted by Michael Shankman, Selling Las Vegas 702-498-3383 (Award Realty) over 10 years ago

Sometime I believe the distrust comes from consumers not really understanding the process and what the Realtor does.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Keep doing the right thing.  Lead by example.  Keep positive. 

And understand that there will always be those who break rules for their personal gain.  We may see attrition in the next several years that will weed some of those out.

Posted by Michael A. Caruso (Surterre Properties) over 10 years ago

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