What Needs to Be Taught in Ongoing Real Estate Education

Real Estate Agent with Dirt Road Real Estate SA676002000

A recent article in Inman sparked my attention given my experience in public, private and corporate education.  The author shared 11 things he wished were taught to real estate agents in real estate school.

Given the high drop out rate of licensed real estate professionals, this list is good, but fails to address what I have observed.

#1 Missing Piece – Know the Sales Process

Far too many wanna be agents have zero to limited sales experience.  Real estate is first and foremost about sales and requires a thorough understanding of the entire sales process.

#2 Missing Piece – The Reality

Being a real estate agent as an independent contractor is a sole proprietor of a small business.  Very few new agents and even established agents have a strategic thinking business action plan.  If there is a plan, it is usually marketing and that is only the first phrase of the sales process.  Being a small business owner is a reality.

#3 Missing Piece – Leadership Begins with the Individual

Much is written about leadership. However, very little is written about Self-Leadership. If as an individual one cannot lead himself or herself, then the likelihood of leading others is greatly diminished.

#4 Missing Piece – Learning Versus Development

The initial real estate school is all about learning new knowledge including state and national real estate laws. However, ongoing learning is truly development that being taking what is learned and applying it to drive results (think increase sales) and to grow the real estate practice as well as the individual real estate agent.

#5 Missing Piece – Emotional Intelligence

In this list, one wish was identified as “Conversational Control.”  I would like to revise this wish to “Embracing Emotional Intelligence.” We when use the “word” control this is more about the agent’s own ego and fails to truly listen to the potential client, prospect or sales lead.

#6 Missing Piece – Individual Talents

After giving and debriefing over 500 psychometric assessments based on the work of Dr. Hartman (Axiology), I have documented that well over 95% of those assessed do not know what they do well, but that same 95% know what they don’t do well. Additionally, these results usually reveal a lack of self-direction, self-awareness and self-control.

#7 Missing Piece – Attitude

The author listed this attribute as the #11 thing he wished was taught. GRIT is an attitude and comes from internal self-talk as well as experience. Very few classes discuss attitudes less alone the importance of self-talk.

Yes, for real estate agents to move forward, to increase their sales as well as their sphere of influence, a different perspective at this time on real estate education should become a priority.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Any reproduction of Leanne M Smith’s blog for use by any AI or GAI, distribution or reproduction including but not limited to electronic newsletters e.g. PDF’s Internet sites or physical products e.g. newspapers, CDs without prior written permission and consent by me, Leanne M. Smith (Leanne Hoagland-Smith) is strictly prohibited.

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Leanne M. Smith, MS, GRI, rCRMS

2018 KGVAR Rookie Realtor of the Year-55+
219.508.2859 MST
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Comments (19)

Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Leanne,
So many go in with unrealistic expectations about the business. It seems everyone wants to be their own boss but so many don't have the discipline to run it like the business it is.

Feb 08, 2024 09:31 AM
Leanne Smith

So true and I know you are speaking from your own experiences.  This is why I do like the puzzle piece of "GRIT." Thanks for starting what may be an incredible dialogue.

Feb 08, 2024 09:34 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Leanne, I am a fan of more education in our business for both new and old Realtors.  Things keep changing.


Feb 08, 2024 09:39 AM
Leanne Smith

I agree and more education would work if more real estate agents viewed education as "I want to" instead of "I gotta have to."

Feb 09, 2024 05:53 AM
Adam Feinberg

Leanne Smith - I view the majority of mandatory training required by the state as "I gotta have to" - as 80% + doesn't change and it's repetition. I used to manage global training initiatives within capital markets- so I understand better than most the impacts of this...but it doesn't change my view on the matter. That said, of course my calendar is filled with non-mandatory continuing education.  There is no easy way around the mandatory continuing ed courses but the smart agents will focus their time and energy seeking out more learning.  

Feb 10, 2024 07:39 AM
Leanne Smith

I agree with Adam Feinberg about the attitude "gotta have to." Imagine the possibilities if that was changed "Gotta want to" to be a better professional real estate agent.

Feb 10, 2024 10:43 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Leanne Smith  this post is only missing one thing the Feature Button recognition, I can not agree with you more.... I had a few agents who joined the profession one in particular one of my neighbors, because I made it look "easy" easy to sell easy to make money.... neither were true and she found out the hard way, Endre

Feb 08, 2024 10:12 PM
Leanne Smith

Thanks for that thought about "feature." Professional real estate agents with high ethics do make it seem easy.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Feb 09, 2024 05:56 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

There are many reasons why people don't stay in real estate for very long and I am sure the biggest is that it is more difficult than they thought it would be, haha.

Feb 09, 2024 04:52 AM
Leanne Smith

Yes false expectations for "easy money" may be the root cause for many who fail.

Feb 09, 2024 05:56 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Leanne I've been talking about this 'lack' of strategic training for agents for years and years.  Some get it, most do not, still. Go figure! 

I am a fan of courses like GRI and CRS for these reasons, these courses do teach basic and advanced business building skills. 

This is a subject I touched on in probably every class I taught over the years.....always good to bring solid, down to earth, business building skills to every subject.

Feb 09, 2024 10:29 AM
Leanne Smith

The business plan course offered in the GRI is a "joke."  Having taught strategic thinking for over 20 years with small businesses to billion dollar entities, way too many agents focus on marketing with a spray and pray mentality. And most don't get it because the key element "thinking" is ignored.

Feb 10, 2024 04:46 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten

Depends on the instructors Leanne.  I happened to have good ones, but that was 25 years ago and they didn't follow just the GRI plan.

Feb 10, 2024 10:04 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Some people have an "employee mindset" and have no ability to function as an independent business person. They don't know how to manage their time or their money, so they fail rapidly.

Feb 09, 2024 04:08 PM
Leanne Smith

Agreed which returns to self-leadership. Also the ongoing expectation that being a real estate agent is easy money continues to permeate the industry.

Feb 10, 2024 04:47 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

You have a license but don't know how to fly. It takes hard work, longevity, creativity, humor, consistency and ability to manage your time and money. Real estate is piece meal commission compensation, and you learn more when the market is tough and through trial and error adjusting your "sales" Leanne Smith

Feb 09, 2024 06:14 PM
Leanne Smith

Very true and like the "adjusting your sales" comment.Thank you Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573 

Feb 10, 2024 04:48 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There are always a lot of missing puzzle pieces, but once you get them together is when the magic really hits!

Feb 09, 2024 10:31 PM
Leanne Smith

Yes and the key is to find all of the missing puzzle pieces. Unfortunately many fail to put the time and effort into constructing a completed puzzle.

Feb 10, 2024 04:49 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Congratulations on your post being featured!  I agree with so much of what you said here. People think real estate is easy and easy money. Its not easy and it is not a 9 to 5 job with an hour off for lunch either!  You got to pay your dues to be successful in life! 



Feb 10, 2024 12:50 AM
Leanne Smith

Thank you for the congratulations and I am in agreement with you. Real estate is not easy.

Feb 10, 2024 04:50 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I agree with these things that should be part of the discussion before getting a license. And as part of the sales process discussion - what are all the different ways to find clients?

Feb 10, 2024 05:35 AM
Leanne Smith

Usually the best way is to reach out to past clients and ask for referrals. This also translates into word of mouth.  Hand written notes work extremely well to keep in touch. I have learned wearing a name tag when I go out, if I remember, and having decals on my truck also have earned me clients.  As to marketing signage works the best. Most of my non-referral sales leads are from my signs both on the property and directional.

Feb 10, 2024 06:49 AM
Kat Palmiotti

I agree Leanne Smith - and that's one of those things that needs to be taught! I also had a lot of success with post card campaign to out of town owners.

Feb 10, 2024 07:37 AM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse Advisor

Technical knowledge is also vital. As agents come and go, the comments I have heard is that other firms are not diving as deep as we do when it comes to training on highly technical areas of the business. For example- when an agent takes a buyer out to view an apartment- it's on the 5th floor of the building- decent natural light, but no view and the only decent comp in the building is for an apartment in the same line (virtually identical floorplan and location in the building) - but this one is on the 12th floor- and it's got outstanding natural light and open views...how is an agent supposed to understand the differences in pricing. Another example - your client wants to view an apartment priced at $850k, and you view it- and it's comparable to $1,100,000 apartments...why is it priced so low? It might not be such a great value despite appearing to be a great deal. Let's assume that the condition of the apartment is comparable with the higher priced apartments- so the factors that could impact the price - High monthly maintenance (and if it's high- how does an agent evaluate vs price) , large special assessments, difficult co-op boards, ability to finance in the building, ability to sublet or other restrictions and more. There are lots of variables that impact price aside from size, building location, and condition - and the agent needs to understand not only what all of these variables might be- but also what the discount or premium might be and why.  Clients want to feel like they are getting a great deal- and if an agent can explain the "why" that is a big deal. 

Every agent is an independent contractor and responsible for their own success or failure - but I believe that it's up to the brokerage to ensure that agents have the tools available to increase the likelihood of success for new as well as experienced agents. The managing broker has a vested interest to see their agents succeed. 

As every agent runs their own business- agents may have diverse needs, but these are some examples of the skill sets needed to succeed in real estate. 

Feb 10, 2024 07:29 AM
Leanne Smith

All of your points Adam Feinberg are very accurate. Thankfully I don't have apartments, but do have custom built homes that are isolated from any close comparables.

Feb 10, 2024 10:44 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There’s always a lot to learn, is what you learn about life as you get older, and it never stops being true.

Feb 10, 2024 11:28 PM
Leanne Smith

Yes every day is a new opportunity to learn something knew or to reaffirm something you already knew to be true. Thank you and good morning.

Feb 11, 2024 06:19 AM
Matt Brady
Watermark Capital - Del Mar, CA
One of San Diego's Best Lenders

Leanne, Great post, this is what stood out for me.

#3 Self Leadership hand in hand with Self Motivation and Work Ethic are the pieces missing in many agents and LOs. You cannot just sign on with a successful person and hope to ride their coattails to success.

Feb 12, 2024 09:28 PM
Leanne Smith

Thank you and great comment about "hope to ride their coatfails to success."  With now an almost 25 year young leadership consulting and coaching practice, self leadership is one of the ongoing challenges for many.

Feb 13, 2024 06:14 AM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Colorado Broker / Referral Services

There is a lot to be said about "mentoring" .... with the right Mentor, you will develop skills that leads to success!!  Knowledge is powerful, only with action to apply that knowledge...thanks for the information, Leanne.

Feb 13, 2024 06:52 AM
Leanne Smith

Mentoring if the mentor has a "professional attitude."  I have talked to some new agents and their mentor is 100% focused on closing the sale and ignores how to build the relationship.  Thank you for stopping by and adding to this ongoing dialogue.

Feb 13, 2024 06:58 AM
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Luxury Homes & Interior Designer

I missed this post which is outstanding  Leanne Smith and just saw the reblog by Joe Jackson.  Right on point with so many factors that influence a new agents success.  After recruiting and managing agents for many years,I totally agree with all of your points. This should have been a featured post!

Feb 13, 2024 01:17 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. It was featured on Active Rain. I do appreciate Joe Jackson reblogging it as well. Also good to know my points affirmed your experiences.

Feb 13, 2024 01:40 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Most people who enter Real Estate have never been Self Employed. They do not know how to allocate their time to create money making opportunities. Finally they do not consistently Lead Generate 

Feb 13, 2024 05:43 PM
Leanne Smith

All truisms Michael J. Perry and thank you for taking the time to add to this ongoing dialogue.

Feb 13, 2024 05:50 PM
Peter Mohylsky, Beach Expert
PMI. Destin - Miramar Beach, FL
Call me at 850-517-7098

Education, learning, self development in a positive fashion should be part of everyone’s daily activities.

Feb 15, 2024 03:58 AM