California Bureau of Real Estate Commissioner, Wayne S. Bell speaks out on the subject of Professionalism in the industry

Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown on February 13, 2013 Mr. Bell oversees the licensing and regulation of more than 400,000 real estate licensees.

In California Real Estate licensees are subject to the governance of Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE). Real Estate licenses are issued by CalBRE; in order to maintain their licensed status, licensees are bound to comply with the relevant portions of the Business and Professions Code, Commissioners Regulations and California Real Estate Law. Administration of the Bureau falls to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner recently attended an event hosted by the San Diego Association Realtors® among the many topics of discussion the subject of The “Professional” Movement. He had much to say about: What makes a Real Estate Practitioner a Professional.

Regardless of the type of business, professionalism continues to be a discussion point. While much is spoken about behaving professionally, and we can readily recognize professionalism or the lack of it in others; it is often difficult to define or model it when considering our own behavior.

Elevating the level of professional conduct is the goal of many REALTORS® who faithfully represent their clients in complex and often challenging real estate transactions. For that reason, I thought it might be of interest to learn about the survey the Commissioner conducted to ascertain exactly what the public and real estate industry peers believe is center-point of professionalism.

The survey was conducted by Mr. Bell by posing queries to real estate licensees, consumers, family members and colleagues. The results of the survey said Real Estate Professionalism is:

A combination of appearance and attitude combined with excellent client service
An understanding of the fiduciary duties imposed on real estate licensees which includes placing the client’s interest ahead of those of the licensees (for more information on the fiduciary duties applicable to real estate licensees, when acting as agents: www.dre.ca.gov/files/pdf/reb/rebsum07.pdf
Being organized, disciplined, prepared, trustworthy and responsive
Civility, kindness, ethical behavior in business dealing including communicating with clients and parties on the other side
Delivering first-rate work and results consistently
Following the lawful instructions of clients
Education, knowledge and experience necessary to achieve the results a client wants

As it relates to professionalism Commissioner Bell was recently quoted as saying:

“Professionalism is expected by consumers and peers. It is first and foremost in protecting the public in real estate matters.”

Robert Reffkin Founder and CEO of Compass believes that elevating the professionalism and dignity of the real estate profession is a duty we all share; one of his favorite quotes:

“Good etiquette can open more doors than knowledge or wealth.”

So what does all of this mean in the day-to-day practice of real estate? In my humble opinion the message is pretty clear; treat others with respect, be mindful of the image you present to the clients and colleagues, do your best all the time every time and remember that as real estate professionals clients count on us to assist and advise them, in most cases; in the single most important purchase or sale of their lives. A weighty responsibility and one that requires the utmost in professionalism!

A few tips for practitioners:

Learning is best achieved when it is experiential; that means practical training. For example; mentorships within brokerage firm. Where newly licensed salespersons can learn from and work with experienced mentors, who serve not only as tutors but role models as well.
Participation in quality educational opportunities including the study of applicable fiduciary duties and ethical standards along with professional development programs.
Another take-a-way is the wise and best practice of careful and competent supervision by an experienced and professional broker. One who takes seriously the responsibility of oversight and works with his/her team to provide ongoing education and transactional accountability.
Pursuing legitimate continuing education and professional development. If the industry is to elevate the level of service and dignity, this single mantra should be at the forefront.
Having the wisdom to limit real estate practice to areas of known discipline; an obligation that is an integral component of meeting the fiduciary duties to clients.

We are fortunate, as California Real Estate Licensees, to be able to rely upon the leadership of Commissioner Bell. He is a beacon of integrity who works tirelessly to enhance our industry through communication and collaboration.

As professionals our clients place their confidence in our ability to serve their real estate needs with professionalism, integrity and skill.

Our goal is to gain the trust of our clients; but trust is not an entitlement it is earned. The manner in which we conduct our business and build relationships determines whether or not we achieve that goal.

Final thought:

“Professional is not a label you give yourself — it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” David Maister

Questions? Email them to:Kathy@Compass.com

The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice. It is for the purposes of real estate brokerage education only.


Kathy Mehringer
Regional Director of Risk Management & Education
Broker Associate
CalBRE # 00625769
9560 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 200
Beverly Hills, CA 90212