A Product Like No Other

Much more than title is conveyed in the transfer of a property.

July 16, 2014

Isn’t the real estate industry just like any other business? Don’t we have a product to sell? Isn’t the industry based on profit and loss and market share just like any other business?

It would be naive to think our industry could thrive without a smart business model and thoughtful business decisions. It is our responsibility to our clients and to ourselves to be smart businesspeople.

That being said, I can hear Peggy Lee singing in my ear as I write: “Is that all there is, my dear?”

No, Peggy. The answer to your question is a resounding no! Our services may be shaped by business models, but our product is special. Our product has both iconic meaning and fundamental human purpose. It is this distinction that keeps REALTORS® pushing forward.

“Under all is the land.” Real estate, whether it is residential, commercial, farm, or raw land, carries intrinsic values and meanings that we as real estate professionals oversee in our work.

Property ownership shapes wealth. It builds and strengthens the middle class, which is critical to any country’s growth and stability. Whether for shelter, for security, for business, for pride of accomplishment—whatever the reason—real estate is a product that has a profound impact not only on the owner but also on all that surrounds that property—neighbors, communities, societies, and the environment itself. So much more than title is conveyed in the transfer of a property.

In this issue of REALTOR® Magazine, the emphasis is on the home. As I have traveled to Asia, Europe, and South America, much of my thinking about the American dream has been broadened. The desire for and value attributed to home ownership prevails in almost every culture, not just ours.

What is different is not the overt value placed on home ownership but the hierarchy of meanings by which people express that value. In more developed countries, we dream of a place to make beautiful, of lifestyles, of places to live out life’s experiences. One prominent real estate professional in another part of the world told me home ownership in her country represents security above all else—both as a financial investment and a place to be physically safe in an ever-changing -political environment. In other parts of the world, the most important meaning is as simple shelter, and for yet others, home ownership represents accomplishment—the paramount symbol of success. Clearly, culture plays a major role in framing the dream of home ownership, but, for most, the desire to own a home is embedded firmly in the heart.

This is why we as professionals, as REALTORS®, must be the best we can be in our work. Yes, we are in business. But we are not only in charge of the transactional aspects of a transfer of title. We are, in a more profound way, enablers of all the intrinsic social values that go with the sale. And that makes our product quite unlike any other.