The problem is…
Recently I perused an article on Sellsius.com where Joseph Ferrara was blogging about selling real estate with sexy ads. It got me thinking about the marketing I have to do now as a real estate educator, as opposed to what I did as a practicing broker. The problem is that I can’t make education “sexy”.
There are very few folks who get excited at the opportunity to learn. I love it! I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity to learn. Ok, I’ll be candid, I love the opportunity to know more than someone else! Really, to be the “one” that knows the answer when no one else does, is an awesome feeling. My ability to recall facts and pertinent information in a transaction has served my clients well in many circumstances where the co-operating agent didn’t know what to do.
Agents are employed for many reasons
Agents are employed for a variety of reasons, in some cases it might be that the agent has the lockbox key and the MLS access, but for many other consumers it’s because they simply need help navigating the complicated process of buying or selling real estate.
You’re hired for your brains and frankly, not everyone who has a license has brains. I’ve heard the complaints that pre-license requirements are too easy and too few hours, for most states. I’m not convinced that increasing the hours in a lot of states would be a deterrent. Having taught new agents, I know that many of them think (regardless of how much we pronounce otherwise) that there is a pot of gold at the end of the pre-licensing process. Many will walk thru the fire to get there. Why? Too many brokers are out there telling these folks that they can make $100,000 their first year and make their own schedule. We’ve got tons of “motivational” real estate folks still selling books by telling agents how to take weekends off and make six figures. It’s hard work, many times it’s unappreciated and to do it well, requires true perseverance.
How about making the examination process more exigent? I do agree that this would help, but I know lots of folks who are great with tests and have virtually no commonsensical diligence. This career requires a lot of critical thinking skills and that is a difficult skill to instruct. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t.
So, where does continued education have it’s place? There is framework and skill sets necessary to be successful in this career. That framework is evident in our Code of Ethics (which in many states is the premise for statutory legislation) and the Real Estate Board regulations. This is a exceptionally legislated industry because of the consumer protection that is needed. RESPA, Fair Housing, Real Estate Boards, MLS rules, Lockbox rules, Code of Ethics, State Statutes, all not only impact our business, but change almost annually. Someone needs to bring this information to you.
So, we’ve all read the advertisements pleading with you to take a class and expressing that Realtors with designations, make 60% more than those that do not.
Courses are difficult
I think this thought process is a case of Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this.” It’s rarely true. I surmise that professionals take designation courses because this is their career and they know that they have to know their craft well to succeed. Some of the designation courses are unrealistically difficult to achieve and costly. Only those who are succeeding can usually achieve them. If we (we being educational leaders) want folks to take our classes, we’re going to need to make them more appropriate to the market and today’s practitioner. We’ll also need to make them more cost effective and readily available.
Complicated formulas and overpriced courses that a leaner has to hunt down, and then get a home equity line to take, aren’t going to be effective. Knowledge should be easy to access and meet needs. Eight hour courses on print-media-marketing isn’t really a good use of most educational hours. Catering to “how we used to do business” and dwelling on desk duties and open houses don’t astound most people and honestly, how much training does it take to do these tasks?
Do designations help you?
Do designations help you in your career? Yes, I think designations help, if the Realtor knows how to use them in their marketing plan. Just having some letters after one’s name means nothing to most consumers. Remember that many consumers still use the first Realtor that they encounter. So, knowledge gained in education is more important in serving the client, than it is in getting the client.
Many people have repined after classes that the course did not meet their expectations. Why, because they were looking for the silver bullet. Education is a process of learning and developing that never ends. There is no one class that will make you rich. Don’t believe the hype. It’s important for the practitioner to be well rounded, have a good balance of seeking information and being open to receive it from others.
It’s a mess
My state has recently increased the post licensing credit hours to 30 hours in the first year. This is going to be very difficult for many new agents. The courses are difficult to find, as we’ve only offered post licensing for a short time. The hours must be in specific categories and cannot duplicate each other. There is a different segment for experienced agents after their first renewal and the agent has be to be careful to really look at the class to ensure it’s mandatory and offering the correct hours. Honestly, even as elitist as I am about education, it’s become pretty complicated to keep the license in the first year. So, what do most agents do? They take the easy way out and go take a 30 hour online class, that ends up being just a review of the same pre-licensing program that they started out with. It’s a mess…. The end result will be that the agent will be no better educated than day one.
Is knowledge sexy?
Knowledge without wisdom is ineffectual. Agents need to be able to appropriately use what they know and study to know what’s necessary to protect themselves and their clients. Educators have the responsibility to help the leaner build a bridge between the two. Anyone can read a PowerPoint presentation, but it takes a real Educator to bring the information together for the Agent.
Do I think smart is sexy? I certainly hope so, it explains why my awesome wife married me! I “ain’t got” much more going on…