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May 17, 2007

Ask the Real Estate Expert About New Real Estate Agents

Q. What advice you do have for newly licensed real estate agents who want to be successful?

I’m going to take a leap here and answer this as if the question were asked by a new agent. However, if you are a broker/manager with new agents, my answer should work for you as well.  Two things immediately leap to my mind training and education.

Training can be done by a company, and some companies offer wonderful training. Training is not at all level in the real estate industry; it runs the gamut from “Here’s your desk, here’s your phone, good luck, you’re on your own!” to companies which require that new agents complete an in-house training program before being allowed to take floor or opportunity time.  My advice on training, whether your company does a lot or does a little, is this: “Get a mentor!” A good company may help you with this, even offering the seasoned agent a percentage of your commissions while you are training. It is money well spent on your part (if it comes out of your share) or the company’s (if it comes out of their share) because it will make all the difference between success and failure. The mentor should be a top producer, experienced, knowledgeable and above all, ethical. Learn it right the first time. You want to attach yourself at the hip to your mentor. Be a sponge, and absorb everything. Ask questions constantly. Take notes. Be willing to do some grunt work, like man open houses and the like.  A mentor can keep you from becoming one of the at least 50% of the folks who get into our business and leave during their first year.

Second, on my list is education.  Currently, 58% of the licensed agents in the United States have less than five years in the business.  On top of that, many of them either pursue no additional education — there are actually some states with no CE requirement  (New Jersey is one) or the bare minimum.  Get an education, and get it as fast as you can. National Assn., of REALTORS studies over the years, have proven time and again that agents with REALTOR® designations earn more money than their counterparts. One of my favorites to start with is the GRI — Graduate, Realtors® Institute. In some states, you can work on both the GRI and the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) at the same time.

Take e-PRO®! This online course counts for CE in many states, is an elective for ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), CRS and CIPS (Certified International Specialist®). The ePRO course will equip you to do business in today’s cyber world. And, because the agency is a huge part of understanding the business, take the ABR course.

In order of scheduling, I would sign up for e-PRO right away — you take it online. Be disciplined, and set aside some time in the day to spend about a half hour a day on this course. Then, I would go for GRI and ABR, in either order.  CRS can come later; both this course and ABR require that you have a certain amount of sales experience to gain the designation, but CRS requires more than ABR.

Finally, this is just the beginning, you may discover you have a niche in the senior market, so you end up taking SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist). Or maybe you sell resorts and the second home. So, you end up taking the RSPS course (Resorts and Second Properties Specialist).  And of course, go to every educational program your local association offers. Read trade magazines, and go into, edit your profile as to what interests you, and ask to be put on their weekly mailing list. Education and training are a journey, not a destination never stop learning.

I have seven certifications, two certificates, and I’m here at the NAR Mid-Year meetings to take another two-day course. I’ve been in the business for thirty-two years, and one thing I know for sure is that there is always more to learn.

(Melanie McLane, ABR, CRB, CRS, ePRO, GRI, RAA, SRES. Serving North Central Pennsylvania's Real Estate needs since 1975. Licensed to sell and appraise real estate in Pennsylvania. Approved real estate instructor in many states, teaching everything from ABR to USPAP.)

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