Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to School: 6 Lessons Brokers Can Teach Agents
It’s that time of year when students head back to the classroom. Why not piggyback on that new-school-year mood and encourage agents to hit the books?
August 30, 2016
As Labor Day beckons and the summer buying frenzy diminishes, it’s the perfect time of year for your agents to study up and strengthen their real estate skill set.
Here are six timely and timeless lessons that agents can benefit from this fall.
Lesson 1: Contract Proficiency
Changes in regulations and state laws sometimes require updates be made to real estate contracts. Brokers should spend time making sure agents are familiar with the changes and the intent of the contracts, says Greg Anderson, broker-owner of RE/MAX Advisors West in Chaska, Minn.
For example, updated contracts went into effect Aug. 1 in Minnesota with two significant changes: contingency clauses related to the sale of another home and changes to the timeline of inspections and agreements.
“Take time to refresh yourself on the basic mechanics of the contract and the transaction,” Anderson says. “Grab a cup of coffee and read over the contracts to familiarize yourself. You can call the state association if you have questions. You have a fiduciary duty to be competent.”
Brokers should watch for emails from their state associations that summarize the changes. Associations may also offer agents continuing education courses that cover contracts, especially in the fall.
Lesson 2: Communication Coaching
Exhibiting confidence, understanding body language, and knowing how to give quick and decisive responses are essential communication skills that all agents must learn, says Brooke Wolford, regional manager for RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis. She suggests that brokers build these lessons into their training programs or agents seek out classes that will help them become proficient in these areas.
John Blom, managing broker at Hasson Company, REALTORS®, in Vancouver, Wash., says that agents also need to know the appropriate type of communication for the message they want to deliver. ”A text message is probably fine to let your sellers know about a showing appointment, but certainly not to tell them the buyer is terminating based on the inspection,” he says. Agents too often gravitate toward the least personal form of communication, such as text or email, when they need to deliver bad news. This provides brokers with an excellent opportunity to help their agents understand when they should pick up the phone, he adds.
Lesson 3: Always Show Up
Showing up in the office is a crucial part of learning, according to Rogers Healy, broker-owner of Rogers Healy & Associates Residential Real Estate in Dallas. “If you’re brand-new to the industry, go to the office and surround yourself with experts who are going to help you attain the knowledge you lack. If you think you’re an expert, you can always learn more,” Healy says. Brokers can encourage agents to come into the office by holding routine meetings and offering training opportunities on-site rather than online.
Lesson 4: Go Beyond CE Credits
Completing a designation or certification program is an opportunity for significant professional development and business growth. “I always recommend agents get out of town and attend a conference or a class in person rather than online,” says Anderson, who took a CCIM class in New Orleans and loved the interactive and collaborative environment of the classroom. “Things are changing so rapidly in the industry, and if you’re not staying on top of the changes, you’ll become irrelevant.”
Anderson specifically recommends both GRI and CRS designations for residential agents, and the plethora of online educational resources at realtor.org. Most associations have lending libraries that include books and training materials. Anderson recommends setting aside specific blocks of time for adding to one’s real estate knowledge. “Build sword-sharpening into your schedule,” he says. “It doesn’t happen when you get time, because you’ll never have time. You have to schedule time, like an hour each week.”
Lesson 5: Industry Participation
Whether it’s serving on a local or state association committee or simply responding to national and local calls for action, it’s important for all agents to make some level of contribution to the industry, says Anderson, who serves on the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®’ Political Action Committee. “You can make a nice living at this job,” says Anderson, “but it also comes with a responsibility to make a contribution and have some level of engagement.”
Brokers can help by keeping agents abreast of real estate legislation at the state and national level.
Lesson 6: Business Planning 101
Lastly, but most importantly, every new agent has to have a plan, says Wolford. “They need to know how they are going to prospect, how much they want to make, and where they invest their marketing dollars,” she says. That means planning your schedule every day, figuring out how to work your sphere, and setting up a solid financial plan for budgeting money, paying taxes, and reinvesting in your business. Wolford says brokers should help any new agents they bring onboard to establish a keen understanding of how to set up a business plan.
Networking with veteran agents is important, Blom says. “I think the best agents are those that have enough humility to recognize they can learn probably learn at least one thing from everyone,” Blom says. New agents should take the time to talk to successful agents and ask them for ideas, he suggests. That goes for seasoned agents, too. Brokers can also facilitate collaborative learning or mentorship programs at their offices. “I think in our digital world, it’s less competitive in an office environment. People are more willing to share and collaborate,” he says.