Let’s face it: The forces remaking the residential real estate industry are making the business increasingly competitive. Yet TV shows make our jobs look simple. This leads to people jumping in so that they can be their own boss and make a lot of money. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
Yet the cold hard reality is that being an excellent real estate agent is hard, and the classes that pass for “training” are a joke. We sign up for classes only to learn that they simply teach you to pass the test. We learn nothing about sales, how to open a lockbox, getting customers, and we never read the sales contract during school.
We are told that we have to get a brokerage to sponsor us, and that brokerage usually promises “the best training” in the industry. We sign up, excited to start our new career.
But when we show up on Day 1, it feels like we’ve been thrown to the wolves. Most of the time the training is O.K. to terrible. It never quite seems like it’s tailored enough. There is little sales training, little training on how to run a business.
I think that we can do better, and we need to do better.
At its best, being a Realtor is one of the greatest professions. We are business owners and have the opportunity to help people navigate a very stressful situation. Typically, when someone is buying or selling a house, it is usually accompanied by another stressful situation; a marriage, a divorce, having children, children leaving the nest.
A house is typically a person’s largest asset, and we must be there to help. How can we do right by our client when we haven’t properly been trained?
A proposed solution
Here’s my solution: Let’s require a Realtor apprentice training program once new entrants have completed the classes and passed the state and federal tests.
In many professions there is an initial period where you train under a professional; someone that has had success in the industry and can show you the ropes. This apprenticeship should be 24 months in length.
All transactions would be supervised, and the trainee would work for the trainer. At this point the trainee has gone to school but has a “permit” to practice; it’s much like a driver’s permit, but that person is not a licensed “master Realtor.”
After the 24 months the trainee and trainer must agree that they are ready to move forward. The trainees must take another test. This one is more about the business of being a Realtor, and it’s about business strategy, marketing, and ethics.
If they pass, the trainee would then have another year of minimal supervision on their transactions under the Master Realtor. To pass this stage to become a licensed master Realtor, the trainees must have a certain number of transactions under their belt (for example 10); they must have a certain average of positive customer and peer reviews or evaluations; and then they have to pass another test.
Agents would get paid a percentage of the transaction based on performance. The brokerage would take something like 15 percent off the top for marketing and training, and then there would be a 50/50 split until hitting certain goals.
The agents are building their database, so they would get to keep their book of business once the graduated. The benefit to them is that they have access and training to a proven plan. When they graduate, they would actually have a sustainable business. The benefit to the training agent is the that many companies are now offering profit or revenue sharing, and now they can compete by having built relationships with these trainee agents.
By implementing this training program, we will be able to have more quality control and put our profession back into our own hands. The new agents would get sponsored by a master Realtor instead of brokerage just wanting as many bodies as it can get.
The professionalism of our colleagues will dramatically increase; each agent would care more about the customers, and we would have an industry where agents would be more prepared to help our clients to avoid costly mistakes.
What do you think a training program for Realtors would like? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.