I was recently appointed to the Washington DC Association of Realtors Board of Directors and we had our first 2008 meeting yesterday morning. In 2007 the Board had begun a community outreach initiative to strengthen the image of the Realtor, and to educate the consumer about the differences between Real Estate Agents and Realtors. Realtors are members of the National Association of Realtors and are required to live by a code of ethics – or be punished financially.
Real Estate Agents are licensees and not required to uphold those ethics because they are not members of the Association. During the preparation for this public outreach campaign, the Board hired a PR firm to poll and conduct focus groups and they found the vast majority of residents do not know there is a difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent at all. They also found the community viewed Real Estate Practitioners unfavorably because the perception is they swoop in, make money, and leave.
Though I’m not surprised by this, I’m disheartened that we as a real estate community aren’t doing a better job of participating and contributing to the communities we live in, and educating the consumer about our business.
WDCAR’s mission is to ensure the rights of the DC homeowner are protected politically. WDCAR fights to keep property taxes low, fought (and lost) the raise of the transfer and recordation taxes, and is working with local politicians on many other initiatives. WDCAR was also instrumental in getting the DC Vote initiative on the national agenda through lobbying on the Hill. Realtors are fighting for this because we too are homeowners and together we can have a stronger voice.
Hopefully the public awareness campaign this year, which will features ads, community services, and seminars, will help educate the community that the vast majority of Realtors really are out to help our communities. I feel like an ad right now for Realtors – but I was really impacted by the meeting yesterday. We have much work to do.