A month ago, the president of NAR asked for ideas on solving the housing crisis here.  The national convention starts this weekend in Anaheim, and hopefully during the session, he’ll be reviewing thoughts from realtors around the country. 

He can start solving the housing problems by changing what it is under his control.  My ideas:

As president, don’t just be a figurehead, get something done.  Have a real agenda of items that will forward the realtor community, and push to have them implemented.  And don’t do what Dick Gaylord did. He was NAR President, accomplished nothing, and now he is bugging realtors to use his lender services. You shouldn’t get to use the office of NAR president as a soliciting tool.

Make our website, realtor.com, the best real estate portal.  According to my clients, Redfin’s website is much better.  Stop allowing move.com to run a lousy website on our behalf, and then let them pillage us for ridiculously high fees to advertise our own listings.

Develop a specific set of procedures on how every realtor will handle short sales.  There is rampant short-sale fraud being inflicted by realtors, because nobody is doing anything to stop it.  Realtors won’t play by the rules if there aren’t any.

Be an advocate of foreclosure.  You are on the wrong side of this issue.  The majority of Americans pay their bills, and are tired of the deadbeats being coddled.  Promote foreclosure as the way to solve the housing crisis, because it is.

Support agent scorecards/feedback sites.  Realtor.com should promote agent rankings and client feedback systems. Use a system like the one used at ebay, where clients can leave public comments on performance, and agents can rebut those that are negative.  Realtor.com should also list how many sales each agent has closed in the last 12 months as an indicator of their proficiency – and no team counts.

Promote open house as a sales tool.  Buyers want convenience.  Promote broker preview day as a public event, and educate agents on effective open house techniques.  And counter the argument that the only thing open houses are good for is to generate leads.  Open houses will sell the house – if they have the right price on them.

Ditch the value-range marketing.  It sends the wrong message (we don’t know what it’s worth so you figure it out), and is a gimmick that furthers our slimy reputation.

Promote real estate classes as general education in schools.

Teach real estate principals to agents.  A broad category, so I’ll give just one example.  Recently I had a prominent listing agent tell me when I questioned her price, “The average market time is 115 days in this area, and we’ve only been on the market two months”.  But you don’t wake up on that 115th day and find the purchase offer on your fax machine.  Teach agents that your best chance of getting top dollar is in the more-urgent first 30 days, and to price accordingly – instead of pricing high and getting stale quickly, resulting in chasing the market down.

Teach real estate salesmanship to agents.  When the MLS was founded in the 1960’s, the intent was broker cooperation – that agents work together to help buyers and sellers.  These days agents think their job is to fight the other agent. 

Enforce the rules and ethics.  You don’t have the power to revoke their license, but you can kick them out of the club.  If agents saw a few bad apples lose their MLS privileges, everyone would straighten up.

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