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Op/Ed

Are professional real estate designations worth it?

Do real estate designations make practitioners successful or are they a waste of money? Is that even the right way to look at designations?

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pondering

Over the past 25 years, the number of designations in the real estate space has increased from a single handful to an armful. According to Realtor.org, there are 17 NAR Family Designations and 6 NAR Family Certifications. Yes, the industry has become more specialized over the years, but do we really need 23 different courses to cover the marketplace needs?

Actually, maybe we do. Think about it, where would you draw the line? If you were appointed the boss of all real estate decisions, which of these courses do you think we should eliminate?

The answer to the question depends who you ask. If you ask an appraisers if the SRS (Seller Representative Specialist) designation should be expired, they might say yes. If you ask a residential agents if it’s okay to terminate the RAA (Residential Accredited Appraiser) designation, they might agree. But, switch these two questions and you’d likely get a resounding no.

A wise person once told me, if you ask turkeys what they think about Thanksgiving, don’t be surprised by the answer.

It’s not about winners or losers

The intention of this article is not to pick the winners and losers in the range war of designations… that will either be determined naturally or by NAR design. The real intent of this article is to explore the value of designations to YOU.

So are designations worth it? This is the questions agents ask when they debate the value of designations. But, this is the wrong question. All of the NAR designations have great value and they are all worth it, at least to some people. They are all solid educational experiences and some have great side benefits like active referral networks.

Instead of asking if a designation is worth it, ask will it make me smarter, better, more productive, and/or less dangerous in my area of the marketplace? If the answer is yes, take the training. If the answer is no, don’t.

Sometimes we expect too much from education. Education will not, by itself, make you successful. But, sometimes it seems we look at a designation course and analyze its value based on the number of leads it will generate. It is the application of knowledge that makes you successful, not the mere fact that you took a course.

Designation courses are what you make of them. It starts with selecting the right course for you and your business. For instance, if you work in a historic section of a city, your benefit in taking the Green designation is probably more limited than if you work in a suburban area with a lot of new construction. Sure, you might learn some helpful stuff, but the bang for the buck might be better to take the SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist), or other designation.

What about all of those letters?

There is nothing wrong with letters after your name. They actually give you some self-satisfaction, pride, confidence, and a host of other warm and fuzzy feelings that are important. More typically, the question is “will my clients and customers understand these designations and perceive me as a better professional?”

Again, wrong question.

The better question is, “am I willing to put this education into action to be more professional?” Letters after your name are irrelevant if you do not put into action the ideas, systems, and tools you learn in a designation course. If you do that, then your clients will recognize you as a professional.

If you have selected the right designation course AND apply the new knowledge to your business, there is great value to a designation course. If, on the other hand, you expect your business to improve simply because you re-print your business cards with a couple new letters after your name, designations are worthless.

How do I pick the right designations?

If you are just starting in the business, or have decided to get serious about your career, you might want to start with the GRI (Graduate, Realtor Institute). The GRI differs from state to state, but typically it is a good general course for agents in their first five years in the business.

Unfortunately, the GRI program has been in flux for the past few years. NAR and state education experts have been working to reformat and update the course and in some states the GRI program has been temporarily suspended until the revisions are completed. Hopefully the “new” GRI program will be ready for nationwide delivery soon.

Other than the general programming of the GRI, other designations are typically more niche specific. It is probably better to pick your niche and then look for a designation course that corresponds, but sometimes a designation course can give you enough exposure to a market segment to help you decide that you want to work that niche, or not. For instance, maybe you think the commercial market might be interesting, but you are not sure. You could invest in a CCIM class (Certified Commercial Investment Member) to help you decide if it is for you, or not.

If real estate is your profession, it is up to YOU to invest in your education. Yes, your firm offers education and your state licensing agency requires you to do education, but these are not the same as the Realtor family designation courses. You can be successful without designations, or you can have several designations and still be unsuccessful. If you combine hard work and dedication with the knowledge from designations, statistics indicate you are going to be more successful.

Ready, set, learn! You’re worth it.

Dave is a 20+ year veteran in Realtor® association management and leadership and is currently the CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. He is a writer, speaker, strategic planner, and life-long learner with a passion for creative thinking. Dave has published his first novel For Reasons Unknown and will be publishing his second by the end of the year.

Op/Ed

5 Consumer behavior shifts caused by the pandemic

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of people look at and act in the new world. These are the biggest 5 changes you should be aware of consumers.

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COVID-19 is affecting businesses in multiple ways, depending on the industry. One thing that affects every business, regardless of industry is customer behavior. It’s no surprise that customers are changing behavior to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Google just released information that should help your business. It’s estimated that over 4 million people are staying home around the world to slow the spread of coronavirus. Use this information to help you shift your marketing efforts.

  1. Consumers are using multiple devices more than ever before.
    With kids home trying to do school, parents who are working, and people who are furloughed, content is being consumed at record rates. According to Google, Americans are watching 12 hours of media content each day.
  2. Increases in search for critical information.
    Online grocery shopping and cooking videos are top searches these days while Americans are staying home. Telemedicine is another hot search topic. People are looking for ways to stay home and protected.
  3. Consumers want to stay connected online.
    Google announced that in April, Google Meet hosted over 3 billion minutes of video meetings. YouTube has seen an increase in “with me” videos. People are filming themselves going about their day to connect with their friends and family. Virtual events have changed how people meet up.
  4. Routines are changing to be “internet-first.”
    Telecommuting is a top search these days as consumers try to find ways to work from home. People are looking for exercise options that can be managed at home. Consumers are using the internet to find options that keep them socially-distanced but connected to their routine.
  5. Self-care is taking a higher priority.
    Meditation videos are being consumed at a higher percentage than before. People are looking for books, games and puzzles to stay occupied at home.

Consider Your Business Against Consumer Behavior

COVID-19 restrictions may be easing, but consumer behavior may not change much until there is a vaccine. Your business can use this information to change your marketing to meet consumers at their point of need.

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Op/Ed

5 Secrets to a more productive morning in the office

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions


    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Get in car
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions


    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.

    Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?

    Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.

  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items


    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.

    “There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”

    In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.

  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation


    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the ask at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions, but makes sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.

    Vagus nerve stimulation, which gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.

  5. Optimize Your Workspace


    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Op/Ed

5 Side hustles that could turn into your new career

(EDITORIAL) With COVID throwing all jobs out of whack, maybe now you can explore something new and actually make a career change. Here’s 5 side hustles to try.

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side hustles

When you think of finding a side hustle, you might picture yourself finding an obscure job as a bike courier three nights a week or maybe even walking your neighborhood dogs. Both of these positions can be fun and pay extremely well depending on who you work for.

There are endless opportunities for part-time, enjoyable, profitable side hustles. However, if you take on any of the following side gigs, you could end up with a new career.

1. Day trading

Day trading is the purchase and sale of a stock, bond, or security all within the same day. Many entrepreneurs are drawn to day trading because it’s fast-paced and risky, but with the right skills, day trading presents a potential for serious profit.

If you’re curious about day trading, RJO Futures published a guide on how day trading works. RJO’s article explains that whether you trade from a large firm or on your own, you’ll need three tools:

  • Access to a trade desk. This will give you instant order actions the moment your trades are placed.
  • Analytical software. Analytical software will help you identify key indicators to inform your next move.
  • Access to news outlets. Day trading – specifically day trading futures – is volatile. Prices move by the second and having access to news outlets will give you a heads up if your market might be affected.

Be aware that if you enjoy day trading and get good, you might want to go full-time. It’s possible to turn day trading into a career, but the learning curve is steep.

2. Investing in real estate

Real estate is a lucrative industry, but it’s not for everyone. Popular among entrepreneurs, investing in real estate requires long hours of study, extensive research, and getting your hands dirty.

Usually, real estate investors have side hustles to supplement their income. However, many people get into real estate as a side hustle and end up turning it into a career.

If you want to get started in real estate, don’t jump to investing right away. Take the expert advice from the folks at Bigger Pockets and start by learning about the industry. Get a part-time job as an assistant property manager to pick up industry knowledge and learn your local landlord-tenant laws. If you’re going to invest in real estate to rent out, you’ll be a landlord at least for a short period of time until you hire a property management company.

If you know someone who can help you make your first investment, you don’t need to wait. However, to be successful you have to think outside the box to gain a full spectrum of industry experience.

3. Content writing

Every business needs content writers and many are willing to settle for any level of proficiency. If you have any writing skills, you can easily pick up some content writing gigs on job listing sites.

If you love writing, you might start out writing one blog per week and decide you want to pursue writing full-time. If it’s truly your passion, stick with it and you’ll find the right clients who will pay you generously for your work.

4. Coaching

Whatever people are struggling with, there’s a coach to save the day. Life coaching and business coaching are the most popular, but you can coach people on anything you’re passionate about.

Being a coach isn’t easy. Even people who intentionally start a career as a coach struggle. What most people don’t realize about coaching is that passion does not equal profit. Coaching is a hard sell, but life coaching is especially difficult. Running a coaching business requires more than business skills – you need to be proficient at helping people solve their problems.

If you’re good at helping people solve their problems, there’s a chance you might get addicted to being a coach. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping people grow and transform their lives.

5. Thrifting

It’s not hard to find sellable items at your local thrift stores. However, you need an eye for what people want to buy. If you’ve got that eye, you could end up with a new career.

For example, Natalie Gomez, a former merchandise planner at Macy’s, took on thrifting as a side job and wound up making thousands of dollars. Gomez was interviewing for a new job when she realized she was already making a good living selling clothes.

Enjoy your side hustles

Even if you don’t turn your side gigs into a career, take on gigs you enjoy. Money is necessary, but it’s never worth sacrificing your happiness.

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