With all due respect to realtors and the complicated product that they sell, they are salespeople. Guy Lieberman A few weeks ago, my father dragged me to look at a house for sale. He decided several years ago that I had to pack up my family and move, so he has been looking at the market. From time to time, he gets excited about "a bargain that you have to see." Already at first glance, it looked like a ruin. The wooden roof was in bad shape, the single bathroom looked like it was from the 19th century, and the electrics were 50 years out of date.
We were accompanied on our tour by a real estate agent, who of course had us sign a contract saying that we would pay him 2% of the price of the deal if it went through (spoiler: it did not). He never stopped proclaiming the property's potential, but when I started asking questions, he suddenly went quiet.
"What is the area of the house?", I asked. He stuttered and said something about an extension that had been done on it. "Did the authorities approve the extension?", I asked. "I believe so," was the evasive answer. "How much can you build on the lot?" I tried to get an answer to this question, which was the one that interested me the most. "I don't know. If you go outside, you'll see a house next door on a lot of more or less the same area, and that will give you an idea of the order of size," the real estate agent answered me. The conclusion was obvious: this real estate agent had not done his homework.
I was reminded of the incident this week, when "Globes" reported that the government was recommending the elimination of licensing tests for real estate agents, meaning that anyone can be a real estate agent at any time. The Israel Association of Realtors was outraged, saying that it was a "black day" for the sector. Bernard Raskin, on the other hand, owner and CEO of RE/MAX, one of Israel's biggest realties, supports elimination of licensing, and I agree with him.
In addition to dedicated and professional realtors - this is not mere lip service; there are many such realtors - there are also hacks like the one I met. In the existing situation, the entry barrier for the sector, or as it is usually called, the licensing test, is especially low. The test is easy, and passing it gives you a lifelong license provided, of course, that you have paid an NIS 800 annual license fee.
With all due respect to the realtors and the complicated product that they sell, we are still talking about salespeople. If a salesperson in an automobile agency or travel agency does not need a license or have to pay an annual fee, why should realtors? In a situation in which most of the Registrar of Brokers' work consists of conducting examinations and maintaining a database of realtors (20,000 realtors are currently registered), not in establishing standards of professional knowledge in the sector, it is easy to get along without this institution.
What is the alternative? That is an excellent question. The alternative is exactly the continuation of the current situation, but without a certificate that is not worth much in any case. The really professional realtors will succeed.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 15, 2019
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