Is there a ratings system for Realtors?  

Shucks, I don’t even know if there’s one for doctors and when you need one of those, they’re a lot more important, even if not always as prompt about appointments.  

‘Course, doctors don’t work on commission, either.  Realtors do, so are more likely to be on time, but unlike doctors, Realtors don’t have that many housing emergencies, either.  “Are you a Realtor?  My house is on fire and I don’t have insurance, how soon can you sell it?” 

Want to talk to a Realtor?  Put up a “For Sale by Owner” sign at dawn, you’ll have talked to several by dark, whether you want to or not.  

Got a fever?  You can forget about that sign business, doctors don’t make house calls anymore, as some still did when I was a mere child.  Today, you drag yourself to them – and you better be carrying money or good insurance when you go. 

Word probably gets around more about bad doctors than bad Realtors.  Nobody ever died from buying the wrong house, except maybe at the hands of an angry spouse.  “I TOLD YOU I didn’t like this house, you idiot!” 

I hope people spend more time choosing doctors than Realtors, if just for their own good health.  But I don’t see any evidence of it.  I know people who swear by one doctor and an equal number who’d rather run him or her down in the street, ‘cause of perceived arrogance, mistakes or because they hire staff members who’re impolite, can’t figure out insurance claims and who gossip about patients to their friends. 

Back in the last century, I had a friend who wore a heart monitor for a day or two.  A day or two after that, a staff member told another of this guy’s friends (unknowingly) when this guy and his spouse were more likely to be….well, “friendly” with each other (mornings). 

I’m not putting Realtors and doctors on the same level here, of course, even if doctors would let me and they won’t and I don’t blame them.  But ever hear the Dentist and Realtor story?  The Realtor made the mistake of casually mentioning to the Dentist that we’re all salesman of one type or another.  “I didn’t spend umpteen years in school to be a mere salesman”, the Dentist sternly pronounced. 

“What,” the Realtor said, “people come in here and ASK for a root canal.” 

There seem to be a lot of very polite, concerned young doctors coming out of med schools today, based on my personal experience, but there are still a few older ones who prefer to believe that M.D. stands for “Medical Deity”.  My little brother is an M.D., but the little rascal moved to California, so is of little use to me, except when members of my family need an interpreter for “door knob” doctors. 

Those are the ones who enter the patient’s room and spout off something unintelligible to the average person whilst keeping one hand on the doorknob for a quick exit before having to answer any questions.  

Before I die of doctor recommended .38 caliber malpractice, let me say that my personal complement of doctors includes a very thorough dentist who, despite his age, has kept up his professional education and abilities extremely well.  I know his age because I started the first grade with him.  Also, a brilliant and polite young orthopedic doctor/surgeon who’s convinced I was either dropped from a great height as a child or abused my bones and joints with football and motorcycles as a young man or both.  And a sorta youngish, highly energetic general practitioner who seems to think my health depends on me doing what he says, just because he’s right.

I respect them all highly; it takes a lot of effort and dedication to get to where they are.  When I got my real estate license 33 years ago, I think it took two cereal box coupons and two bucks.  I understand it’s gotten more difficult now, but still not as difficult as staying in the business.  According to the National Association of Realtors, the drop-out rate is so high that about half of today’s Realtors have been in business less than three years, which is just about how long it takes to gain enough experience to be useful.  

Yet while our health and our houses are among the two most valuable assets we have, most of us don’t spend as much time researching real estate agents than we spend looking at paint, carpet and furniture to put into the houses the agents lead us to.    

When it comes to doctors, I’m not any better, I’ve just been lucky.  Although they advertise a LOT more now, most doctors get their patients, except medical referrals, through word of mouth, probably, I don’t really know.  If they do, it’s the same way most agents get their clients:  Word of mouth, newspaper ads, family members, social club members, people they sit next to at church, whoever has the “sold” sign across the street and increasingly, the internet.  

Difference is, good doctors can stay in business with a bad personality.  Real estate agents can’t, not without a long successful track record.  And while it’s much easier to research a Realtor’s track record than a doctor or tree surgeon’s, consumers rarely do it. 

Which is too bad, a foot doctor won’t take an elbow patient, but a residential agent with no commercial knowledge will often take a commercial listing, damaging the client and infuriating commercials agents who might otherwise been able to put something together. 

Even in residential, different agents are more comfortable in different price ranges, but if you don’t check that agent’s references, income, sales history and other qualifications, how does the average homeowner know that.  Income?  Check income?  Hey, if they haven’t made any money, they’re either not working or not working well.  That’s something you should know before you put your biggest asset into their hands, don’t you think? 

When they’re on the hunt, every real estate agent has a pleasing personality.  They’re on commission, right?  If they don’t please the seller, they don’t get the business, even if it means going along with the seller’s over-inflated opinion about what his/her house is worth.  Even after a couple of true professionals have told that owner that since every other identical house on the block sold for $25,000 less, that they wouldn’t list it for that inflated price, knowing that the eventual sales price was likely to be lower because it started higher (than the competition).  

Ah, but we’re an easily fooled bunch.  The normal cold laststwo weeks, but we believe that medical science can now cure the normal cold in only 14 days.  

Mike Hill has been in the real estate business in Valdosta since 1976 and has nothing but respect for all professions, medical or otherwise, if they’ll give him a discount.