BY LEN ELDER, JD, DREI
Somewhere along the way, a great idea got lost. In an effort to create minimum standards of professionalism, most states require a certain number of hours in order to maintain a real estate license. Given the complexities and the speed of change in the real estate industry today, hardly anyone can maintain the position that the mandatory levels are sufficient to achieve success and excellence. Few fail to realize this, and we are often caught just trying to complete enough hours to renew, falsely believing that’s all the education we really need. Education is the cornerstone of our industry and the foundation for reaching our goals. There is no such thing as too much education today.
I was teaching a class in Phoenix, Arizona when a student proclaimed that they were completing their 100th hour of class so far in a single year. A few people started to snicker, and when I asked what was so funny, they casually replied that they had taken between 200 and 250 hours so far for the year. The number of renewal hours required by the Arizona Department of Real Estate is 24 in a two-year period.
Although I have practiced as a trial lawyer and am a Distinguished Real Estate Instructor (DREI), I then asked a question to which I did not know the answer. I asked the student, “Doesn’t your broker want you out selling real estate?” Unbeknownst to me, the agent’s broker was in class. The broker responded, “Len, you don’t understand. We never lose a listing appointment. We have a 100% capture rate.” I found that to be a miraculous claim, and when I asked for further elaboration, the broker replied, “It’s simple. We ask our agents to make a list of all the educational classes they have attended. We start the listing presentation by reviewing them with the client. We tell the client that we have spent a significant amount of time in class prior to meeting them so that we could be one of the most educated, prepared and skilled agents they ever met. Then we tell the client it doesn’t matter if they hire us, just don’t hire someone with less education.”
Still pressing, I asked the broker, “Wouldn’t you make more money if your agents were out selling more and in the classroom less?” The broker replied, “I guess you didn’t hear me. We never lose a listing presentation. More importantly, most brokers spend all of their time answering basic questions that the agents would know if they went to high-quality classes regularly.”
Sometimes as the teacher, you get more educated in class than the students do. Being a teacher requires tough discussions that often challenge the status quo. Still pressing I turned back to the agent, “Alright, I get the broker’s point, but wouldn’t you rather be out selling?” Now came the hard part, as the agent said, “Perhaps you didn’t hear us. We never lose a listing presentation.” Then the agent added a kicker, just for fun, “Plus my broker pays us to be here.”
I have been an advocate of educational excellence for most of my life, but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The agent and the broker explained how the fee splits in the company were structured around how many educational hours the agent had acquired. For example, up to 50 hours is a 50/50 fee split. At 100 hours the fee split became 60/40. An agent could get to a 90/10 fee split at the 250-hour mark.
I should have known better by this point, but I asked the broker how they could afford that. Do you know what he said? He replied, “Perhaps you didn’t hear me, we never lose a listing, and I don’t have to spend time teaching my agents or consulting with them on basic issues.” I later found out that the description these agents give for the mandatory requirements is, “That’s just the minimum hours set by government agency for minimal competency in our industry.” Harsh as that might sound, I think it is accurate.
We should all realize that the value of courses and education is not simply to get a certificate so that we can renew our licenses. We should seek out the education, not for the certificate, but because we care to learn. We should care to learn because in that educational process, we are driven to higher levels of service and client satisfaction, which helps us fulfill our roles as real estate professionals and achieve the professional and personal goals we have set for ourselves.
I dream of a day when we go to class not because we are forced to, but because we want to become better at what we do. I am inspired when brokers and agents like the ones I had in class recognize the importance of such a commitment. I salute them. I salute everyone who contributes to, furthers and tries to elevate education in our profession. Perhaps one day with enough of us sharing the message, education will become about much more than just a certificate.
A note from AAR: Have you visited RETeach.us yet? Read real estate class and instructor reviews before you spend your valuable time and money. How does it work? After you attend a real estate class, visit RETeach.us and share your take on the content and instructor with other agents. Before you select your next class, check the RETeach.us instructor and class reviews to see what others have to say. Together, AAR and its members can raise the bar for real estate education in Arizona.
Leonard C. Elder, JD, DREI is the CEO and owner of Course Creators, LLC, a national training and education company based in Tucson, Arizona. Len can be contacted at Len@CourseCreators.Com or by calling 520-808-0241.