I never (ever!) thought I would write that headline about a NAR Economist. Witness his post today:
The number of REALTORS® grew from 750,000 at the turn of this decade to close to 1,370,000 as recently as August 2007. That is an addition of 83 percent in short seven years. From 1980 to 2000, membership figures bounced around in the narrow band of 620,000 to 820,000.
Such a rapid increase in membership is not necessarily healthy. How many of the new members have ever seen a down market aside from the last two years? How many understand the importance of repeat and referral business and not just a single transaction?
Given that about ½ million REALTORS® have less than 5 years of experience, sloppiness in some transactions no doubt exists. A complaint I hear quite frequently from REALTORS® is about the second-rate conduct of some of their fellow new members.
Every attempt by state and local REALTOR® associations to further raise professional standards gets knocked down by government regulators as hindering competition. NAR has made efforts to strengthen professional standards and the code of ethics but has been careful, knowing that the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will be breathing down our neck. (bolding mine)
Pay attention to the last point. I have heard it raised at the local and state levels in opposition to raising entry requirements. If Realtors raise dues or educational requirements, that could be seen as anti-competitive. Which is worse for the consumer (and the profession) – lots of unprepared Realtors waving their state licenses about pretending to be “professionals” or a higher barrier of entry to the profession, so that it might actually be regarded as a profession and not a hobby?
Locally, over the past twelve months, in the Charlottesville area, 374 Realtors (~25% of the total membership) have had more than five transactions. Laws, regulations and general practices are in a constant state of flux. Doing something regularly and consistently has its benefits. Why do you think one of the most common questions asked by sellers is “how many houses have you sold in the past six months?”