I Are A REALTOR (education requirements)

By
Real Estate Agent with nwRealty.Com

"Dad!  I'm quitting high school to be a REALTOR just like you!"
I dread the day this nightmare comes true and I hear these words from my son or daughter.  Sadly, in the State of Washington (and most other states) real estate licensees are not required to finish high school. 

Our state has some really outstanding elected and appointed officials, and public employees.  But we have a HUGE DISPARITY within our State government that (in my opinion) must be reconciled. 

  • The stated goal of the WA State Board of Education is to "Raise student achievement dramatically" and to "Provide all students the opportunity to succeed".
     
  • The WA Real Estate Commission's Mission Statement begins with "To uphold, protect, and promote the public interest ..."

These sound good on paper but in reality our State tells today's youth ...

  • "Even if you don't graduate, we'll authorize you to facilitate the purchase and sale of BILLIONS of dollars worth of real estate."

AND our State is telling the public ... 

  • "We're regulating real estate licensees for your protection.  Whether or not your REALTOR has the aptitude to complete the most basic level of public education is irrelevant."

Has our State accomplished the stated objectives of its Licensing and Education departments?
(Please notice I said State, not the individual departments.)  In the majority of cases, Yes.  But upon considering recent events and current industry conditions our State's licensing requirements have contributed to the problem.

  • We've all heard about REALTORS that can no longer make it, so they had to get a real job and they're only qualified to be a grocery clerk. 
     
  • Many loan officers engaged in predatory lending were (are) licensed real estate agents/brokers and doubled their exploitation of poorly qualified Buyers.

Simply put, it is just TOO EASY to become a real estate licensee in Washington.  Nobody can see what the future holds.  But when listed on a resume, experience as a REALTOR should equate with substantially more than any unskilled job.  I also believe that fewer opportunists would have damaged our industry and national economy if the licensing process was better regulated.

So how would you fix the problem?
I've come to believe that there is a great deal of merit in Washington's requirement for two years experience as a Trainee before someone can even take the Real Estate Appraisers exam.  I think adding a similar Trainee/Apprentice license type for real estate would help Washington discourage exploitive abuses and help elevate the prestige of our profession. 

Since I would add a new license type with experience requirements, I've added experience requirements to the following levels of real estate licensing ...

  1. Trainee/Apprentice (licensed assistant) requiring a high school diploma.
     
  2. Sales Associate requiring a two year college degree plus two years experience as a licensed Trainee.
     
  3. Broker/Associate Broker requiring a four year college degree plus five years experience as a licensed Sales Associate.

I try to keep my articles short and easy to read so I'll end here and leave you with this question ...

How can we elevate the general public's opinion of REALTORS above that of Used Car Salesmen if we don't have higher education and experience requirements than Used Car Salesmen?

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Ambassador
920,701
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
I so agree, impossible to learn it all in a short 40 hour course in pre-licensing. A mentor is a must unless you have a broker than can take the one on one time necessary.
Oct 14, 2007 06:50 AM #8
Rainmaker
303,983
Michael J. O'Connor
Diamond Ridge Realty - Corona, CA
Eastvale - 951-847-4883

Great ideas!!  Our industry has enormous turnover and fall-out because there are no real barriers to entry for new agents.  Just look at big business -- how many companies have people or near the top without formal education or training?  Very, very few and that's because it's not easy to get to the top without credentials, education and experience.  We really shouldn't permit under-trained, under-supervised people handle the single largest financial asset held by most people.

I'm very pleased that California has now increased the licensing requirements for new agents.  Now you can't get the license until you've taken 4 courses rather than just 1 with a promise to finish the other 3 within 18 months.  Still ridiculous but a small step in the right direction.

Oct 15, 2007 02:47 AM #9
Rainmaker
548,733
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor

Larry,

I think it's pitiful how little is required for a person to receive a license to practice real estate. At the very least the amount of pre-license training hours should be much more than is currently standard here in Washington. I would like to see a mandatory one year real estate course covering all the fundamentals, such as real estate law, forms, standards of practice, ethics, business, basic finance, escrow and title process, septic, wells etc...

Sandy

Oct 15, 2007 04:39 AM #10
Rainer
27,839
Debi Wright
nwRealty.com - Seattle, WA

Larry,

I think there would be an uproar if the general public became aware of Washington's non-existant basic eduation requirements for real estate sales associates.  This is a double standard within our state government and kind of a "duh" thing that needs correction.

Plus ... REALTORS could be blamed if our mortgage default and forclosure rate catches up with others around the country. 

Deb

Oct 15, 2007 05:31 AM #11
Rainer
5,904
Kim Clark
Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS - Silver City, NM
AE, GAD

I am unsure but I don't think there is any requirement in New Mexico for a prospective licensee to have a high school degree.  The NM real estate commission has been trying really hard for the past two years to beef up the education for obtaining a license.  They are on the right track.  Larry, I think your idea of holding a "training" position for two years prior to getting a Sales Associate license is a great one. 

P.S. Thank you for commenting on my marketing blog.

Oct 17, 2007 03:41 AM #12
Rainer
113,497
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

Larry, I know it shocks me too that Washington State doesn't require a licensee to even have a High School diploma. People always ask me if it takes a lot of education to become a real estate agent. I usually respond with "You don't even have to graduate high school". I then quickly follow up with "I chose to get a college degree and highly recommend you do the same."

Oct 17, 2007 03:51 AM #13
Rainmaker
303,983
Michael J. O'Connor
Diamond Ridge Realty - Corona, CA
Eastvale - 951-847-4883

OMG, in looking through the requirements for California it looks like we don't require a high school diploma either.  We only require the completion of 4 'college-level' courses which can be taken from 'accredited' real estate schools on-line.  The big challenge is the 'exam' which requires you to only fill-in-the-circle on a set of questions that are fairly widely distributed to exam-cram schools.

 No wonder many of our sales people seem so ignorant......

Oct 17, 2007 04:02 AM #14
Rainer
71,885
Larry Wright
nwRealty.Com - Tacoma, WA

Many thanks to everyone for your comments.  I've discussed this issue with other brokers and found that the State RE Commission has previously considered increasing education requirements for real estate licensees.  Apparently there is a great deal of opposition.  I'll continue digging and update everyone.

Thanks Again!
Larry

Oct 18, 2007 05:04 AM #15
Rainer
113,497
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Larry, maybe some of the legislation is afraid that they will have to have a High School diploma next if they require it for real estate licensees?
Oct 18, 2007 05:36 AM #16
Rainer
71,885
Larry Wright
nwRealty.Com - Tacoma, WA
Ryan ... Good observation and question ... I hadn't even thought of that.
Oct 25, 2007 11:13 AM #17
Rainmaker
354,418
Melanie Ross
Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific - Benicia, CA
Benicia CA & Vallejo CA Real Estate, 707-319-2828
Education is always important and you are so right we need to raise the bar.
Oct 30, 2007 12:31 PM #18
Ambassador
3,695,541
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Wow!  I thought that most states require at least a high school equivalency to get  a real estate license.  It's funny.  Here in DC almost everyone I know in the business has a college degree and then some - often a doctorate in some totally obscure, unmarketable field - Early Rennaisance Art History or something.  And that's not to say they do better than some of the people who are just really street smart.
Oct 30, 2007 01:08 PM #19
Rainmaker
543,705
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales
It's too easy to become a real estate agent, period.  Frankly, I think it should require at least a year's worth of college level classes, including English, copy writing, and photography!!!
Oct 30, 2007 01:42 PM #20
Rainer
27,839
Debi Wright
nwRealty.com - Seattle, WA
It just doesn't make sense.  I wonder what external factors influence the low education requirements.
Nov 11, 2007 07:22 AM #21
Rainmaker
543,705
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales
Maybe the state making money on all those licenses...
Nov 11, 2007 08:28 AM #22
Rainer
71,885
Larry Wright
nwRealty.Com - Tacoma, WA
Karen ... I thing the state would save money by not licensing so many agents.
Nov 12, 2007 06:26 AM #23
Rainer
33,856
Melissa Olson
HOPE Lending LLC - Bellevue, WA
HOPE Lending LLC
So true Larry.  I'm glad you brought this point up and hope to see something more required for both Agents and Loan Officers. 
Nov 28, 2007 01:48 PM #24
Rainer
71,885
Larry Wright
nwRealty.Com - Tacoma, WA
Thanks Melissa ... I'm continuing with this matter and will post another blog entry soon.
Nov 29, 2007 02:57 AM #25
Rainmaker
428,555
Eric Kodner
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes - Minnetonka, MN
Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island
You have the right idea.  However I have met and worked with agents (who somehow managed to earn a Bachelor's Degree) who cannot spell, construct a sentence or communicate above the fifth-grade level.  So I have trouble with the idea that a sheepskin makes a good agent.
Dec 25, 2007 12:09 PM #26
Anonymous
Carrie Haymond, CRS Windermere Redmond WA

After spending the greater part of the evening researching on line about appliance thefts in our area - which I might ad most likely is a person who is currently licensed in our state. Had we strick regs about licensing as well as finger printing and a background check.

Certainly it is far to easy as are the on line courses that update the agents hours for renewal. Our time and education ought to require attendance to courses and classes in a classroom with accountablity. Working and networking and time in the field are all part of our job discription. We owe this to ourselves and our clients.

 You say these courses are boring and or too far to travel, think again we are professionals working full time in this industry. Have a job during the week, might you consider dedicating yourself with knowledge -heart - commitment.

Apr 10, 2008 07:42 PM #27
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