Intentional or not, many of us tend to live in our own little bubbles, hanging out with folks who think like us, live like us and maybe even look a lot like us. Depending on where you are in your career, you may be working with many of the same types of clients again and again, selling in the same neighborhoods and having the same conversations.
That sameness tends to narrow your worldview and may keep you from knowing how to relate to people whose experience is different from yours. It may make you uncomfortable in new circumstances, leading you to stop seeking out situations that might challenge you.
If you are gearing up for a new certification or designation — whether it’s to fulfill a requirement or to help you pivot to a new niche in your business — you’re looking at a great opportunity to gain some new perspective and update your way of doing business. In addition, you’ll raise your cultural IQ and learn to adapt, communicate and work effectively with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
NAR courses for diversity and inclusion
Realtors are mandated to care about and promote inclusive practices in their dealings with clients, the public and each other. In order to make this possible, NAR provides grants, training resources and a variety of other content designed to help Realtors understand and live up to their responsibilities under the Code of Ethics.
This certification offers a deep dive into U.S. Fair Housing law, diversity sensitivity training and business etiquette training for a variety of cultures. It offers an opportunity to understand and relate to members of the increasingly multicultural world we live in so that you’re always prepared to provide optimal service.
One great aspect of this course is that it can be used to fulfill requirements for other designations. According to NAR, At Home With Diversity provides credit toward the ABR (Accredited Buyer’s Representative) and CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) designations, is a task on the C2EX (Commitment To Excellence) endorsement, and may be eligible for CE or GRI credit in some states.
Whether you’re working with far-flung luxury clients or practice real estate in a market with a large immigrant population, CIPS offers a variety of tracks for U.S. residents, non-U.S. residents and NAR association executives. Members take core courses in local markets and transaction tools, then choose three electives from the following: Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific or AHWD. This is a great designation for those in the luxury niche, those working with international clients and those who simply want to be more tuned in to working with other cultures.
While social media offers incredible access to your audience, it also provides an unparalleled platform for bad behavior. As part of the social media certification, you’ll learn how to implement risk management into your social media strategy. This is an important way to ensure that you’re in compliance not only in your IRL conversations but also in your online content creation and marketing.
For Realtors participating in the Realtor L.E.A.D. courses, you’ll find this four-hour course with an emphasis on how racism, sexism, ageism and ableism can undermine your efforts to work with all clients effectively. If you’re a team leader, broker or simply someone who wants to promote inclusive values through your leadership style and throughout your organization, this one’s for you.
NAR courses for working with older clients
For those who are interested in working with the large demographic cohort comprised of those who are over 50, the SRES designation provides information for both U.S. and international Realtors on ethically serving this group. Topics include working with seniors who are selling, buying, relocating or refinancing residential or investment properties — all with an eye toward helping them make the life-changing decisions required.
Although not exactly a designation or certification, Fairhaven is an NAR-provided training that deserves a shout-out. To create a space for additional experience with issues of fair housing and inclusiveness, the National Association of Realtors has created the Fairhaven simulation, to help encourage advocacy and give Realtors access to the conversations and circumstances in which prejudice — conscious or not — can occur. It’s a starting point for many agents to find out how they can apply principles of equity and fairness to their everyday practice.
Writing about her experience, Teresa Boardman, broker-owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, found Fairhaven more engaging than traditional training programs and said that it requires more critical thinking than standard classes. “At times, it felt real, and there was even a little stress” involved in the scenarios rolled out as part of the simulation, she said.
Broker, trainer and coach Lee Davenport found Fairhaven particularly effective for the wide range of scenarios it introduces along with the timeliness of the topics. She suggested that NAR separate it into training modules that could be used to talk about and educate agents on specific aspects of Fair Housing.
Both the classroom experience and the Fairhaven simulation provide different ways of approaching fair housing and renewing your perspective on this vital topic. Ultimately, however, the thing that’s going to help you the most is to have honest conversations with your colleagues, clients, friends and neighbors about their experiences, both good and bad. Listening with an open heart and an open mind will give you the ability to bring empathy and understanding to your real estate practice.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.