The Houston Realtor Association (HRA) has launched a program that allows buyers and sellers to rate the performance of Realtors. The association is permitting its approximately 23,000 members to opt out of what it terms the “Client Experience Rating” program, and 1,000 Realtors signed up in the first month. The ratings cover competence, market knowledge, communication and the rater’s experience of the Realtor. On a five-point scale, the average was 4.93. (Since participation of the Realtors is voluntary, can you imagine how the remaining 22,000 would be rated?) A few real estate companies also promote ratings, but HRA is the only such professional association known to do so. And oddly, the program does not appear on the HAR Web site without a site search.
Here in New York City, only a small minority of sales associates and brokers have joined a local association affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, which has a strict code of ethics. As for the Real Estate Board of New York, to which most brokers grudgingly belong, its code of ethics is barely publicized and infrequently followed if my experience can be generalized. (Nor, for that matter, is there faithful compliance with local laws against housing discrimination or the U.S. Fair Housing Act, which, among many other things, implies a prohibition against advertising a property as ideal for a “family.” What does a family consist of anyway?)
Winking as they do at REBNY’s toothless enforcement of its code, as well as the law, many agents and brokers would be horrified to have their sellers and buyers rate them in New York, where so-called “pocket listings” continue to exist and where the best interests of buyers and sellers are all too commonly ignored in the interest of concluding a transaction, maximizing a commission or both.
Compared with D.C., Virginia and Maryland–where I was a real estate broker who, like virtually all other brokers in the area, was a member of the NAR–I continually am impressed with the laziness and indifference of a multitude of brokers here in Manhattan. I hasten to say that not all brokers should be painted with the same brush and that I do often encounter those who are profoundly professional.
But the threshold here and elsewhere of being licensed to sell real estate is abysmally low. With such low standards and such contempt for their customers and clients (never mind by them), can you imagine New York City sales associates and brokers embracing a rating system such as Houston’s? I certainly cannot.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022