"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 ...
- Trainee/Apprentice (licensed assistant) requiring a high school diploma.
- Sales Associate requiring a two year college degree plus two years experience as a licensed Trainee.
- 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?