I don’t sell mobile homes, but I could if I wanted to.
That’s one of the many takeaways from my 22.5 hours of continuing education, required by New York State every two years to renew my real estate agent’s license. I was initially licensed in New Jersey, where standards are rigorous, so my first training in New York felt laughably easy.
Now, two years later, it feels laughably irrelevant.
I could have predicted this years ago, when I was a journalist and was brought in to lecture at a real estate CE course. I sat at my computer and wrote stories about new developments all day long — if I was an expert who could lecture to established pros, how seriously was anyone taking this?
But at least my telling those students how real estate journalism works and how to pitch features on their listings had some bearing on what they were doing. I opted to do my CE online, and I’m now going through the state basket of courses, which were clearly put together in an attempt to provide something for everybody. So I learn what stickers a mobile home needs to have in order to be saleable, and how to check its footing, and whether or not the tow bar is included in the measurement (it isn’t). Since I sell million-dollar condominiums, all this great information is not of much use to me.
Knowledge and training that would be practical, like how to get a party to hurry up and sign a contract, isn’t here, although I have high hopes for a course in the basket called “How to Manage Multiple Offers.” Fair Housing training is now mandatory in New York, and I love that stuff, so that will be three hours that entertains me, too.
Still, 22.5 hours seems like a lot when you’re a procrastinator like I am and are then faced with trying to get through a lot of it in one quick shot. I know now what my attorney friends (who have their own re-certifications to deal with) are complaining about.
However, at least I don’t have to get dragged into an overheated room to deal with a real-live (and by that I mean half-dead) lecturer. I can sit in my office, and make tea. The other nice thing about doing the training on computer is that I can listen to music while studying, just like I used to rock out in high school while doing my algebra homework.
The bad thing, however, about doing the training on the computer is that 22.5 hours means 22.5 hours. So even if you read pretty quickly, like I do, it doesn’t help you to whip through a module. The computer just scolds you and tells you to go back and spend 20 more minutes on Lesson Five.
If I were a better multitasker, I would be able to do this and handle my e-mail at the same time, but actually, that’s a disaster. I ended up telling my friends about the technicalities of house measurement (you’re supposed to duct tape one end of your measuring tape to the wall) instead of making any coherent plans for dinner.
Yesterday I did a few hours of coursework, passed all the self-tests, and then was reprimanded for being too quick, so I ended up reading pages and pages about the intricacies of 1031 Exchanges while chatting with Gil, my sponsoring broker, about clients.
Now he has been in the business for more than two decades, so he always has a lot of good things to say when I can take the time to sit down and listen to him.
And being in the office and making my hourly quota of learning is forcing me to. Maybe that’s the true point of continuing ed.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”