If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It – Another Perspective

Leslie Ebersole’s well-written blog titled, “If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It” took a look at the industry as it is today. 

She states, “The low education requirements plus the preponderance of licensees who make a little money in the business creates a self-perpetuating cycle of public mistrust and even contempt. We can change it…but we need to think about it and talk about it, openly and honestly, in ways that help us to change.”

You have to go back to the 1960’s to really understand how the part-time housewife came to be the stereotype for real estate agents. In the late 1960’s we saw a major shift in the make-up of residential agents.  Many men shifted into commercial real estate leaving residential real estate to women.  The low entry level combined with a small sphere of influence could produce a little extra income for the family.  It was never supposed to be a full-time job nor the sole source of income for the family.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ebby Halliday (a regional icon in the industry)  a while ago and she tells the story about getting her license.  You could send in $1 and get a salesperson license or send in $3 and get a broker license.  That was the extent of the requirements at the time.

We’ve seen lots of changes over those 50-plus years and there are plenty of full-time professional agents-both men and women–who are the primary wage earners.  We have also seen many changes in the licensing requirements. 

One of major issues is each state decides on the licensing for agents within their state.  For example, Texas requires 210 hours of education (with an additional 60 hours in year one), a passing score on the state / national examinations, and fingerprinting for an FBI background check. I read one Maryland blog talking about 60 hours of education in that state.

You have to look no further than the Mortgage Loan Originators to see what happens when the Federal Government gets involved. While I don’t see it in the immediate future, it could very well happen down the line. It will level the requirements for entry into the field and will add to the cost of getting a license but I highly doubt it will solve the image problem.

I’ll argue that it’s not the low educational requirements or the fact that the average agent makes less than minimum wage that causes our issues. The public is not aware of it–in fact, most of them thnk we’re all making loads of money selling real estate. 

You see, the public tends to loath commission-based professions.  The American system produces great employees but not entrepreneurs.  We’re taught to go to school, get a good education, find a good job, stay at it for 20 years, and collect a small pension. 

We’re an anomaly–people who will lay it all on the line for the chance to earn a living that’s not tied to a corporate salary. It’s the risk-reward principle–the more risk involved, the greater the reward and conversely, the greater the loss if you fail. 

The real problem are the unethical agents and brokers who create all the bad publicity for the profession.

One of the defining marks of a profession is that it has established rules for ethical behavior and takes care of its own problems. What we need to do is to take on the bad players through the appropriate channels be that the real estate associations or the state licensing authorities. 

We need to do it ourselves before someone else comes along and tries to do it for us.  I assure you, we will not like the latter.


PS – I’m not bashing part-timers. I think there are some great part-time agents and there are some really poor full-time agents.

About Tom Branch

Tom Branch has written 597 posts in this blog.

Have you ever just met someone, but felt you like you'd known him for years? That's what most people experience with Tom. He has a knack for making folks feel right at home. After 21 years in the Air Force, loyalty and honesty are the foundation of everything Tom does. In addition to being a Texas Real Estate Broker, Tom is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) and a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR).