Mitch Robinson, President, Real Estate News.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Real estate industry awards: Can we be better? 

Celebrating excellence should be about, well, actual excellence — not the size of someone’s wallet.

February 21, 2024
2 minutes

It's awards season, a time to celebrate excellence. It's hard to please everyone. Jokes from hosts fall flat. Barbie fans are upset about Oscar snubs. On the plus side, sometimes, an award can mean as much as … life.

In the world of real estate, it seems like it's ALWAYS awards season.

Accolades are everywhere, to the point that people don't even bother getting upset about snubs or slights. And let's be realistic: If someone in real estate wants an honor, there is probably one within their reach — especially if they have the money. But it's worth asking ourselves whether spending big bucks to get a nomination or consideration matches the real value of picking up a prize.

First, let's be clear that any entity has the right to come up with any award and entry process — including a fee for entry — that it deems valid. Same goes for rankings, like the Swanepoel Power 200, which uses data to drive its list and doesn't charge anyone for consideration. (Note: Stefan Swanepoel founded both Real Estate News and T3 Sixty, which produces the SP 200.) 

Let's cut to the chase: Awards that have a high entry fee, especially when coupled with minimal requirements for entry, just don't feel right to many of us. The fast-rising newcomer might not be able to afford hundreds of dollars to be considered for an award, even if they've had epic and measurable success. 

In other words, it's not necessarily … just "an honor just to be nominated," as we have heard from many stars walking on the Oscars red carpet.

The organizations that charge a substantial entry fee — I mean, hundreds of dollars — will tell you it's for administrative purposes. But if an awards program with 10 categories receives five nominations in each, some quick napkin math shows that this can mean revenue in the $30,000-$50,000 range.

It's no surprise that there are so many awards in our industry. We're human, and we love the recognition — and for the provider of the awards, it's good money. But I think we can be better than this. We can be more transparent up front. And for those of you who can't stomach paying the next exorbitant entry fee, I hereby honor you with the "My Ethics Are In The Right Place Award." No charge.

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