In real estate, we are always learning. Some of that education is mandated, but you won’t learn everything necessary to grow your business through continuing education requirements. Real estate is woven into the fabric of our lives and has connections to many other fields.
As real estate evolves, our value continues less to be about access to the data, which is increasingly open to all, and more about interpretation and analysis of all relevant factors. Real estate agents and brokers are more experts than salespeople, and part of honing your skills is regular study. When you plan where to focus your learning in 2015, consider these four areas:
Economy: Understanding the economy is about more than knowing what the current interest rates are (although that is important). It’s about being able to converse intelligently about myriad forces at work in the world. The National Association of Realtors and the major syndicators all employ economists because it’s important to be able to analyze and predict how changes in gross domestic product, unemployment, housing starts and rates of household formation can affect home prices.
Study their work (and how it differs) as well as the work of economists and academics not subsidized by the real estate industry. If the idea of spending time with economic data makes your eyes glaze over, that’s probably a sign that it’s something you need to address. Then the next time someone at a cocktail party asks you about the relationship between oil prices and interest rates, you’ll be prepared.
Community: You spend your time in the community, but are you able to articulate the issues that the community is facing? Do you attend community meetings, and are you up-to-date on new laws and initiatives that could impact the area? Everything from changes in water usage laws to zoning regulations could have implications for your work. Neighborhoods are always in flux, and being able to provide an overview of everything that’s happening establishes your local expertise.
Which writers for local news outlets cover real estate or real estate-related issues? Read these writers and interact with them on social media. This will help keep you engaged in the topics you need to know about, and it may also serve as passive marketing when others see your comments. You never know when one of those viewers could ask you for your opinion. Plus, these are likely the same articles that your clients are reading on a regular basis, and it’s important to get a feel for what your customers know about the market.
Industry: Knowing the industry inside and out is not easy, but it is worth it. Understanding the industry takes place on three broad levels: the local MLS level, the statewide association level and the national level. Each has a different impact on your business. Participating in board meetings and reading all of the literature produced by these groups will help keep you informed. Statewide and national conferences can also help deepen your learning in the industry.
Technology: Real estate is intimately connected with technology. From drones to Oculus Rift, nearly every advance can be used in the marketing of real estate. Understanding what is new is about more than “shiny object syndrome.” You don’t always have to have the latest phone or mobile device, but you should know how to use them and what features they offer. Technology news used to be of interest to only a select few, but these days everyone regularly follows every new advance. Being able to speak confidently about technology helps substantiate your case as a modern agent able to use the latest tools.
How do you keep track of all of these developments? It all depends on where you get your news. Some ways to stay connected include newsletters, news feeders or social media. What’s important is to make sure that this news makes its way to you on a regular basis.
Share what you’ve learned in blog posts, on social media, in your newsletters, and in your interactions with clients, both in person and via email. Expertise isn’t a static proposition, and the more we learn, the better we are all able to serve our clients.
Deidre Woollard was part of the marketing team at realtor.com and is currently the head of communications for Partners Trust, a leading luxury brokerage in Los Angeles.