When a real estate agent first obtains her real estate license, she does not automatically become a Colorado Realtor. Instead, she may apply to become a Realtor after she is licensed. Some real estate agents become Colorado Realtors and some don’t.
Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor
Licensed real estate agents may apply to become Realtors. It’s a professional organization. And, licensed agents don’t need to be members. Those that choose to become Realtors pay an annual fee, take additional professional education courses and agree to abide by a Code of Ethics. A local Realtor’s membership automatically extends to the Colorado Association of Realtors and The National Association of Realtors.
The local Board of Realtors offers arbitration and the ability to file complaints against member agents. So, homeowners and consumers can seek help from Realtors at the local board.
I’ve been a Colorado Realtor since 1978. When I joined, I had to become a Realtor in order to gain access to the local Denver MLS system. Now, any real estate agent can have access to the MLS system. So, the advantages of Realtor membership are not so clear. As a result, many agents choose not to become Realtors. In fact, some real estate agencies in the Denver area advertise that their agents are not required to become Realtors.
However, the Realtor organizations do offer professional services to both member agents and the public at large. It provides another extra level of professionalism.
Colorado Realtors “Strategic Think Tank”
Recently, I attended a meeting at the Colorado Association of Realtors fall conference held in Broomfield Colorado. The Strategic Think Tank Committee was created to open a platform to consider possible ways to increase the level of professionalism Realtors offer.
Consumers are finding more and more real estate services online. More agents are offering limited services at lower fees. And, consumer complaints against some specific agents continue to soar. What role do professional Realtors have in the changing real estate marketplace?
Veteran Realtor Larry Kendall and Deirdre LePera of Real Trends, the industry publication, tried to answer that question at a “The Strategic Think Tank” Committee meeting. The Colorado Association of Realtors provided this forum at its Annual Fall Conference.
I made the trek up to Broomfield mostly to hear this presentation. You see, I am concerned that so many new agents and non-Realtor agents pose a potentially significant problem for buyers and sellers. Some newer agents may be able to take the necessary classes and pass a test to become licensed. But, they don’t necessarily have the experience, knowledge, and tools to fulfill their legal and ethical responsibility to their clients.
So, they can bring harm to their clients and the general public.
Larry Kendall suggested that the Colorado Association of Realtors can be the focus to improve professionalism among real estate agents. Specifically, he suggested that the Association could promote and focus on best practices for agents to serve the public. This higher level of professionalism could be achieved with a combination of education, raising current Realtor standards, and lobbying for tougher standards imposed by the State of Colorado.
Colorado Realtor Association Focus
Additionally, Larry suggested that education for agents needed to be expanded through efforts by the Colorado Association of Realtors. Notably, The Graduate Realtor Institute could be offered to Colorado Realtors statewide by the Association, during the 1990s. In fact, I had the pleasure to serve as a faculty member for the Colorado Association of Realtors then. More experienced agents and brokers taught GRI classes to less experienced Realtors. In my case, I taught classes for about four full days a year. So, it didn’t interfere with my real estate business. But, I did share my knowledge and experiences with younger agents and upon completion of the curricula, the agents were awarded the prestigious GRI designation.
Larry also suggested that other education programs which could be provided at the state level as well as with local Boards of Realtors.
“There was a time when I got in the business that the big brokers and their agents were the biggest supporters of the Realtor organizations,” Larry explained. “That has changed somewhat. The Colorado Association of Realtors could work to re-engage the larger brokers to more fully support their local boards. This could be accomplished by encouraging greater participation of Realtor members in their local boards.” Many Realtor activities and education classes are administered by Colorado Realtor volunteers.
Could Homeowners Become Realtors?
Chris McElroy, Chairman of The Strategic Think Tank Committee, also made another good point. Evidently, the National Association of Realtors is now proposing to engage and involve homeowners in Realtor organizations. Part of that effort will be to recruit individual homeowners to become advocates for homeowner rights within their own communities. That way, local Colorado Realtor organizations could respond better to the needs of homeowners as well as agent members and their local communities.
I am anxious to find out how this committee progresses. I’ll be sure to write another article as “strategic thinking” for Colorado Realtors moves forward.