No Honor For Agents

by : Julie Jalone

Prestige is defined as honor, awe, or high opinion inspired by or derived from a high-ranking, influential, or successful person or product. Unfortunately, real estate brokers apparently have very little prestige according to a recent Harris Poll completed in August. According to the poll firefighters, scientists and teachers top the list as most prestigious occupations and bankers, actors and real estate agents are at the bottom.

This particular poll measures the public perception of 23 professions using a nationwide sample of 1,010 adults. They did indicate at only half of the survey respondents were asked about each occupation.

According to the poll there were six professions perceived to have "very great" prestige. They are firefighters (61%), scientists (54%), teachers (54%), doctors (52%), military officers (52%), and nurses (50%). They are followed by police officers (46%) priests/ministers/clergy (42%) and farmers (41%).

The poll indicates there are ten professions which when adults were asked about "very great prestige" ranked at the bottom. They were real estate brokers (5%), actors (9%), bankers (10%), accountants (11%), entertainers (12%), stockbrokers (12%), union leaders (13%), journalists (13%), business executives (14%), and athletes (16%).

When participants responded to professions with "hardly any prestige at all" they listed stockbrokers (25%), union leaders (30%), entertainers (31%), real estate brokers (34%) and actors (38%).

Compared to other occupations real estate agents did not fare well in this poll measuring prestige. Compared to occupations like firefighters, teachers, doctors Ministers, and having to rank in order of very great prestige, I can understand why real estate agents are not ranked near the top but dead last? Can you believe 22 percent of the respondents said lawyers have "very great prestige?" Business executives got 14 percent and union leaders were at 13 percent compared to real estate agents who according to the poll were rated with "very great prestige" by only 5 percent of the respondents.

In the category of "considerable prestige" my occupation, real estate agent, moved up from the basement and ranked higher than stockbrokers, farmers, and entertainers. With 18 percent of responders saying we had "considerable prestige" we were just a hair below actors, athletes and lawyers.

When the poll got to "hardly any prestige at all" Doctors did the best. Only 1 percent of the respondents felt that doctors had virtually no prestige. With 38 percent, actors were most often mentioned as having hardly any prestige with real estate agents mentioned 34 percent of the time. Members of Congress were mentioned 17 percent of the time as having hardly any prestige.

Clearly, the real estate profession with such a low barrier of entrance has attracted a huge number of participants. I recall reading somewhere that in California one in eight people has a real estate license. On the other hand those of us who have made real estate a career and work hard at it believe we are an honorable profession, dedicated to helping individuals and families buy and sell, what for most is the single largest financial transaction of their lives, their homes. Realtors have one of the strongest and most comprehensive code of ethics to work by and our success is based on the quality of service we deliver to our clients. Surely that deserves some level of prestige if you remember the definition of prestige includes successful product or service.

If you get picked to participate next year in this poll, remember who helped you buy the house you are living in and give our profession a face. To view the complete survey, visit Harris Interactive.