New Real Estate Agents, Put DOWN that Phone!

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Education & Training with Sell with Soul

I haven't written this blog yet, but I suspect it might be unpopular by the time I'm finished with it. Darn. Oh well.

Here goes... There's one thing I feel pretty strongly about with regard to our beloved rookie agents. They don't know what they're doing. If they're fresh out of real estate school, I guarantee that they don't know any more about selling real estate than, well, than I did when I was fresh out of real estate school! And trust me, that's not much.

So, what's our solution? Tell ‘em to Fake it ‘til they make it! Get on that phone, drum up some business and fly by the seat of your pants, just like the rest of us did. Oh, and don't worry, your broker or mentor will be right there with you every step of the way.

And, that's what most of us did and what most of our newbies still do. Scary, isn't it? Sure, it might be reasonable to throw a brand new bartender on the floor and let him sink or swim... but allowing a brand new real estate agent to manage a $500,000 financial transaction? Or even a $50,000 one?

"But, Jennifer," you protest... "We all did it that way and the world didn't come to an end. Somehow, we survived." Well, maybe. Some of us did; most didn't. What's the recent drop-out rate? 80%? 90%? Think that might be partly due to the harsh reality of the rookie experience (or lack thereof)?

Anyway, here's my point. Rookies, take a few weeks or even a month to learn your stuff. I know you want to hit the phones and tell everyone on the planet that You Just Got Your License, but don't you think you owe it to your future fan club to know what the heck you're doing first? I'm not asking you to know it all, but at the very least.... you should:

  • Know your contracts and disclosures backwards and forwards, inside and out. Every provision, every fill-in-the-blank, every place to initial and sign ... and why.

  • Know your MLS system backwards and forwards, inside and out. Know how to search for active listings, sold comparables, pending sales. How to find tax assessor information.

  • Know and understand the basics of buyer representation. Make sure you have an overall understanding of the buyer process - from pre-qualification to closing. While you can't know everything there is until you go through it once or twice or a hundred times, you should at least be aware of how it works.

  • Have a familiarity with your local real estate market - this is so important! In a few weeks, if you bust your backside, you can learn a lot about your area and might even be able to become an expert, of sorts, in a neighborhood or two.

This list could go on and on and on, and if I had my way, all rookie agents would be required to undergo a six month internship before they could legally practice real estate. Alas, no one has asked me for my opinion yet, so I'll just do my little part here and beg our rookies (and their managing brokers) to commit to being competent real estate advisors before becoming competent real estate prospectors...

Thanks for reading!

www.sellwithsoul.com

Copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Robert - it sounds as if we pretty much agree on the important points, we just have different ways of expressing them. The only thing I'm not sure I agree with (but correct me if I misunderstand) is that before rookies can work on "dialogue" they need to have a decent understanding of their contracts, their systems, their market and the overall process of buying or selling a home. I'm not concerned with our rookie's prospecting competence, but rather their real estate competence.
Sep 21, 2007 01:21 AM #29
Rainer
100,671
Cheri Smith
Prudential Gary Greene, Cypress TX - Cypress, TX
Realtor Prudential Gary Greene
I was shocked after I got my license two years ago. Not once did I learn how to fill out a contract or use the mls or anything that I would really use daily in my new career while taking the classes. I had to learn by asking every agent I could pin down for a few minutes, playing with it and writing fake contracts, taking more classes, reading everything I could, etc. Two years later I still feel very much like a rookie. I'm not giving up but I came to realize that it would probably take me a good 5 years to get where I wanted to be both financially and professionally (knowing what I was doing). So I keep going. I've been meaning to buy your book and that is where I am going right now....to buy it.
Sep 21, 2007 02:31 AM #30
Rainmaker
315,487
Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - http://www.RealEstateMich.com - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan

Yes, I think we do agree on most points, Jennifer. My company (formerly a national franchise, now independent) has a great training program, which is why I landed with them. We often have veteran agents that sit in on these as 'refersher' courses, if you will.  Many others have such programs, too.  KW comes to mind immediately, and I don't mean to exlcude others, it's just that I remember that off the top of my head.

Many agents do themselves a disservice by not interviewing around or asking the important questions about training, orientation, and support.  All too often we concentrate on the payment plan and little perks instead of the really important things. Kind of like those for sale by owners that get hung up on open houses rather than the rest of the work we do!  :-)

Again, a good mentor will be able to help with questions on contracts (I had them for the first 5 or 6 deals). Every deal is different and in the beginning we are learning by leaps and bounds on a daily basis.

Sep 21, 2007 02:56 AM #31
Rainer
194,071
Jeff Payne
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Panama City Real Estate
Having and knowing some great scripts will help but education and know what the heck you are talking about are key.
Nov 11, 2007 12:53 PM #32
Rainmaker
105,533
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD

Where to start?

I raised my hand five days into my "real estate training" and asked what was the protecting the public from me?  How in the world could we in good conscience allow a brand new agent to simply walk in and begin business as usual?  That was the beginning of my plan to not fake til I made it rule.  If I was going to be in this business for any time than it had to be that I could actually perform so I made it my mission to learn, go deep and learn.  The dichotomy is that we need to have experience to learn but there's no real system in place to get the experience other than to practice on an unsuspecting public, who as no idea how to choose someone to handle the most expensive transaction of their lives. 

I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that we need apprenticeship programs in place to get new agents to a level of competence that allows them to have a basic understanding of their jobs:

  • contracts and forms
  • market understanding and use of the MLS
  • marketing and managing a listing training
  • buyer training
  • FINANCE - the implications of this missing training are on the front pages of every newspaper in the country.  
  • Code of ethics - not just the required training you take two years into the cycle because you have to but a breakdown of the law so you understand it and can live it. Ain't that hard in the end.

From what I've seen of mentoring so far it's a question of who signed up to be a mentor.  Not what qualifications you had to impart your wisdom on the world, but as mentioned above who can take their cut.  True mentoring requires a time commitment that should be valued in terms of dollars paid back to the mentor as well as the knowledge gained by the mentee that will give them years of return.  ROI on education received in any form should be factored in.

Spaghetti on the wall is so perfect!  Such a good way to look at how the brokerages run their models and why we end up here commenting on what should have been a perfectly obvious lesson from the start.  I'm constantly hearing managers say they don't know when they'll get sued next and this is with extensive training programs in place.

I hadn't thought before that new agents aren't worth their 50% cut even but there is another discussion point that we could take to a different level.   Interns in many other professions pay to be part of the program or receive a minimal stipend.  If they wash out they don't get invited to be part of the company for the long term.  While I don't want to change the 1099 model there does need to be some barrier to entry that makes it more expensive to be in this business unless you can plan to be successful at what you do.

Sorry for the length. If I was asked to rule the world, I'd do it differently :)

Nov 12, 2007 05:53 AM #33
Rainer
45,224
Joddie Roberts
Mountain Real Estate and Property Management - Spokane, WA
Your Spokane Realtor - Spokane, WA

Jennifer, I've been in the industry for 3 1/2 years, licensed just over 1 and I'm still learning....it takes time to know and understand everything.  Plus, forms change, stats change, inventory changes.  It's our job to stay on top of it all! 

Nov 12, 2007 06:11 AM #34
Anonymous
Ronda Jones

My "other" career is teaching and I was required to go through a 5 month UNPAID internship in order to getting my teaching credentials.  Most teachers have had to do this to enter the profession - and how many teachers are there in the U.S.?????  Over 6.2 million.  Now I realize not all of these teachers are properly credentialed, or they might have gone through alternative certification programs (requiring no unpaid internship) but I would say it is safe to say at least HALF did - and that is over double the number of realtors in this country (approx).   In other words, a number of other respected professions require it,  so it seems logical that real estate should too. I mean, student teachers don't want to be without an income for 5 months (or exsisting on a part time/other job in the meantime) - but it was required... 

I plan to continue courses at the Grad school level after finishing my licensing courses and already have an excellent mentor that has "signed on" to help me. I can't wait to learn! I am prepared to 'be properly prepared' and confident before I guide someone through what may be their biggest financial transaction of their life. 

As good old Ben Franklin said....."By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." 

Another excellent, well thought out and well written blog Jennifer! Thank goodness for YOU! 

 

 

Jan 13, 2008 01:27 PM #35
Anonymous
Anonymous

(let me try this post again - with GRAMMAR and SPELLING corrections!!! Sorry!!!!! I'm a good teacher, honest!  It's hard to type anything of any length with my 3 and 4 year old kiddos nipping at my heels!) 

My "other" career is teaching and I was required to go through a 5 month UNPAID internship in order to receive my teaching credentials.  Most teachers have had to do this to enter the profession - and how many teachers are there in the U.S.?????  Over 6.2 million.  Now I realize not all of these teachers are properly credentialed, or they might have gone through alternative certification programs (requiring no unpaid internship) but I think it is safe to say at least HALF did - and that is over double the number of realtors in this country (approx).   In other words, a number of other respected professions require it,  so it seems logical that real estate should too. Student teachers don't want to be without an income for 5 months (or exist on a part time/other job in the meantime) - but it was required for many. 

I plan to continue courses at the Graduate level after finishing my licensing courses and already have an excellent mentor that has "signed on" to help me. I can't wait to learn! I want to be properly prepared and confident before I guide someone through what may be the biggest financial transaction of their life. 

As good old Ben Franklin said....."By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." 

Another excellent, well thought out and well written blog Jennifer! Thank goodness for YOU! 

 

Jan 13, 2008 01:38 PM #36
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Great point, Ronda! I just don't understand why our industry is so much different from other professions out there that serve the public on very important issues. Think it might contribute to the astronomical failure rates??
Jan 13, 2008 10:18 PM #37
Rainmaker
315,487
Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - http://www.RealEstateMich.com - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan

Interesting thoughts, for sure.  Here are some more.  In Michigan, a Cosmetology student has to attend 2000 hrs of school to get their State license.  Real Estate pre-licensing requires 40!  Of course, it covers nothing but Real Estate Law.  So the 'practical' experience is left to the Brokers.  Cosmetology students get the 'advantage' of many, many hours doing the various things they'll have to know when they graduate and get into the workforce.  RE licensees have to learn 'on the job'.

Most new licensees are 'unconciously incompetent', that is they don't even know what they don't know yet (I was there in the beginning, too!).  Many think they'll get a desk, make some personal brochures, get business cards and be on their way to high incomes.  Of course, it doesn't work that way. Choose a Brokerage that doesn't invest in training and mentoring and you're out of luck.  It's very difficult for a new licensee to learn and progress if they're trying to retain the 'other' job and do Real Estate on the side, too. 

And then there's the fact that not everyone is cut out for the learning curve, interpersonal skills required of, and demands of a direct sales occupation.  It's still about getting in front of people that have a strong motivation to transact business. Sitting around taking floor time or waiting for your phone to ring won't cut it.  Lack of in-office training won't cut it. And lack of mentoring won't cut it, either. Sure, some agents buck the odds and become successful 'on their own', but they are a minority.

I still think that newbies should get on the phone sooner rather than later, however they should be coached in how to evaluate and qualify prospects (which would include frequent dialogue sessions in the office), be made to honor the do not call list, and how to be polite under duress.  They need to start learning and honing phone skills early in their careers.  The quickest way to learn your MLS and contracts and disclosures is to be USING THEM. Likewise with phone skills.

Of course, no new agent should work unsupervised until they have proven themselves able to conduct business in an ethical and honest manner. There's no shame in telling a client or a prospective client, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I'll find the answer and get back to you." That's called honesty.  Like Joddie, above, I'm still learning new things constantly, and I have 10 years experience. Learning should never stop.

Jan 13, 2008 10:56 PM #38
Anonymous
Ronda Jones

I have 10 years teaching experience and feel like a "new" teacher every school year! And it's amazing how much has changed since I started. So I think with any real profession, you must constantly train to stay on top of things.  I expect that of my doctor, lawyer, cpa, etc....

I like the words Robert used: "have a strong motivation to transact business" but I think that is something every REALTOR should innately have, whatever their style is (introvert or extrovert).  I want to be out there in front of as many people as possible, regardless of their current level of motivation.  (although it is agreeable that it is better to have more people who have a strong motivation right NOW LOL)

And I agree with saying "I don't know the answer...." I cannot stand it when someone tells me something (probably the WRONG thing) just because they think they might look bad for not "knowing" everything.  But the key to all of this is to ACTUALLY get back to them!

 

 

Jan 14, 2008 04:37 AM #39
Rainer
11,944
Hank Roeters
Platinum Partners Realtors - Darien, IL
Good points Jennifer. When I was new I didn't know how much I didn't know.  When I talked to my first Broker about experience, She told me that perception was everything. If you were perceived as having knowledge and experience, you did.
Jan 14, 2008 05:18 AM #40
Rainmaker
94,274
Sharon Harris
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Hanover, PA
Realtor
Oh boy did this bring back memory's. I was new 4 years ago and can remember doing duty and hoping nobody called and asked me anything too hard!! It took me awhile to get with it. I can remember showing homes once again thinking do not ask me anything I can not answer. the list goes on. I agree get some training and save your self some embarrassment...Sharon Harris
Jan 14, 2008 05:32 AM #41
Rainmaker
492,857
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Jennifer,

Great post.  The only thing I learned while studying to take my real estate exam, was how to pass the exam.  It really didnt teach me anything about selling real estate. 

The reason I chose the broker I am still with (since March 04) was because of the training they offered.  We spent one month in the class room and the majority of it was learing contracts.  Part of our homework was to write offers on homes that the teacher had selected for us each day.  We went over the purchase contract and the listing contract line by line. 

Once I started at my office my sales manager had me write about a half dozen more practice purchase contracts.  I dont think I would have made it without the training that was offered by my broker.

Jan 14, 2008 05:53 AM #42
Rainmaker
290,032
LaNita Cates
REMAX of Joliet - Joliet, IL
As a new agent, I agree with your post. I was lucky in that I had a marketing/advertising/public relations company (for 9 years) so I was prepared and knew how to market myself. Plus owning your own company for 9 years can really prepare you for real estate. Great post!
Jan 14, 2008 06:34 AM #43
Rainer
83,069
Bonner Thomason
Keller Williams Realty - Kernersville, NC
CRS, ABR, GRI, e-Pro

Makes sense to me! !

Bonner

Jan 16, 2008 06:19 AM #44
Rainer
6,277
Delete Me Now Please
Kugluktuk, YN
great post!  I think being prepared is a huge issue.  Preparation is the key to success.  Otherwise if you are not prepared when the situation arises (whatever it may be) your odds of sinking go up quite considerably.
Jan 16, 2008 06:27 AM #45
Rainer
10,951
Timmy The Cat
Branch, LA
ActiveRain is a scam

This is just the straight up truth! I love everything you post.

Sep 03, 2009 06:23 AM #46
Rainmaker
798,009
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Jennifer - Amen to that.  I know this is an older post, but still very relevant today.  I would have been more than happy to have a 6 month training course.  I think that should be the direction all brokers should be taking.  They should be more concerned about their new agents success than just hiring a ton of agents and hoping a few are successful on their own.

Sep 06, 2009 10:43 AM #47
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Troy - I owned my own brokerage for awhile and our office policy was that new agents would do their first three deals for no pay - we required that to ensure that our agents cared more about being competent than about getting a paycheck. I SO wish our industry would require agents to go thru an internship...

Sep 06, 2009 10:52 AM #48
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