Real Estate Education Gets Real

2016 was a year that left many with whiplash, those in the housing market included. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at real estate data firm Zillow, reflected, “If the expectation was that the market would transition smoothly from deep red hot recovery to normal — that certainly didn’t happen.”

Despite all the changes, a recent Forbes article argued that overall 2016 was a good year for housing. They cited national prices rising above the previous 2006 peak, mortgage rates staying historically low and signs that the millennial generation has begun to buy after many feared they would be lifelong renters. Local agents agree that sales have improved since the recession and note that those numbers could keep growing as current demand is far higher than supply.

As the market grows and changes, real estate agents work relentlessly to stay on top of trends and continue their education. Lansing’s Holloway’s Institute, Inc. is a local provider for pre-licensure training, exam preparation and ongoing training for Michigan real estate salespeople and brokers. The institute offers courses both online and in-person, and is an important first step in preparing for the state exam.

In Michigan, gaining a license to operate as a real estate agent is a difficult process. Per the requirements put forth by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, students must complete 40 hours of approved pre-licensure education courses, which includes nine hours of civil rights law and equal opportunity housing, before taking the written exam. Applicants must also complete three years of real estate related experience. Most agents then join professional associations that provide opportunities for professional development and networking.
For Mike Kevern, sales manager at Coldwell Banker Hubbell BriarWood, the education process gave him confidence in his abilities, and he has since won several area awards.

“I learned in a very structured way in a traditional classroom setting. It taught me how to identify my sphere of influence and work with them, an important part of my training. As for the application process, it can be a bit frustrating. But, if you realize you are making a complete career change and it can be done in about a month, it’s remarkable,” Kevern said.

Time in the classroom is just the beginning of a realtor’s education. Alexis Craig, Keller Williams Realty agent and founder of Mocha Homes, learned the most from her interactions with others in the industry.

“The most helpful part of my training was reaching out to experienced agents, taking them out to coffee or lunch, and picking their brain and learning their tricks. I also read a lot of books and attended a lot of webinars,” Craig said.

She also emphasizes that real estate is a business that takes a great deal of patience, empathy and determination. “87 percent of real estate agents quit within the first five years. The buying cycle is very long and often buyers and sellers will take eight months or more from the time they start thinking about buying or selling until they do so. This job is hard to do. No one is there to hold your hand, give you leads, or hand you a steady paycheck. This line of work takes persistence and consistency.”

The state of Michigan also requires that agents renew their license every three years with 18 hours of continued education. In addition, some agencies train new realtors on the variety of skills they need and offer a senior mentor. These types of programs often give new agents the support they need to navigate the world of real estate and learn about the growing importance of technology in the industry.

Beth Russell, a local agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | Tomie Raines Realtors and nearly 28 years of experience, believes that learning continues when you find a company that has the right tools and personnel.

“When I met Debbie, the president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | Tomie Raines REALTORS, I knew that I wanted to work with her. She has an open-door policy and believes in the cutting edge. I think that’s what took our company to the next level,” Russell said.

Russell credits the agency’s quality service certification with providing invaluable client feedback that helped her identify professional weaknesses and strengths.

This continued education is crucial for agents. But, in Russell’s opinion, no amount of schooling can teach a genuine love of connecting with people.

“I tell my clients I’m not in it for the sale, I’m in it for the long haul,” Russell said. “If I sell you a house, I want to run into you having lunch at HopCat or grabbing vegetables at the farmer’s market and be able to say ‘How are things going? How’s your family?’ I want to continue that relationship. I love my job and can’t think of anything I would want to do more.”

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