REALTORS of the future: An English Degree is no longer obsolete!

Real Estate Broker/Owner with LKN Realty, LLC 242267

Old Books


So, what will the future REALTOR look like?  According to an article by Saul Klein I read on Inman News yesterday, not as different as you might think:

"Agent 2015 will posses:

  • Generational communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Technology skills
  • Online social skills
  • Writing skills.  "The agent of the future will be able to express him or herself in writing.  The lost art of writing will make a comeback."

Wow, writing skills! 

When I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in English in 1974, liberal arts degrees were considered somewhat useless.  The job market was tough but I actually got a great job in business.  Everyone used to ask me if I was going to be a teacher...truly, why else would I major in English and what else could I do with this rather useless degree?

Fast forward to 2009 and think about all of the writing a Realtor does on a daily basis: 

  • Writing copy for listing brochures
  • Writing copy for advertising
  • Writing press releases
  • Emails
  • Marketing pieces
  • Newletters

Truly, to be a good, full-service Realtor these days requires at the very least a basic ability to write.  Be honest, when you read a poorly written flyer or post, don't your cringe just a bit?  On the other hand, isn't it a joy to read just about any post written by members here on ActiveRain like Lola Audu, Jason Sardi, Jeff Dower, Jim Crawford, William Johnson and so many others who are exceptionally good writers. 

The lost art of writing is already making a comeback we just don't focus on it like we do technology.  NAR and all of our local REALTOR associations should start offering writing classes for CE credit.  We have myriad classes on Excel, Publisher, Contact Management, and even blogging but I have yet to see anyone offer a class for creative writing. While you at it, why not add a good class on photography as well!  


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Thomas Johnson
RE/MAX TOP - Houston, TX
SRES, Green

The lost art of writing is already making a comeback we just don't focus on it like we do technology.

Run on sentence.



Tom Johnson

Davidson '78 BA

Go Wildcats!

Feb 01, 2009 03:14 AM #20
Judy Luna, Keller Williams Realty NW Arkansas

Great post, Diane! Like a lot of those who have already responded, I too was an English major. (So was Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion). As such I feel that my ability to communicate effectively gives me an edge. You're right about blogging, writing ad copy, etc. 

It's all about professionalism. A home's description on line with many misspellings and incorrect usage doesn't enhance the listing, and if I were a seller, I would feel that I'm not being served well by an agent who can't write.

I also agree about photography classes.

Feb 01, 2009 06:22 AM #21
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

The reason why writing is making a comeback is because of blogging and to a lesser degree social networking. It sure is good to be able to write well.

Feb 01, 2009 06:50 AM #22
Victoria Carter
Century 21 Percy Fulton - Pickering, ON

What about the people who have English as a second language?

I live in the area of Toronto, Canada and it is very multi-cultural.  I find that most people don't even speak English at all, so the listings become cryptic and filled with spelling errors. 

I think that the ablility to write in English is important, but I think, at least in my market, that it won't be as important as we all WISH it should be. 

Feb 01, 2009 06:58 AM #23
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move

It is so important that agents do have some these communication skills.  Its amazing to me; how many agents have bad grammar and spelling in the MLS comments!

Feb 01, 2009 07:29 AM #24
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

Bo:  Yes, I was so pleased to see Saul include writing skills on his list!

Roseann:  Thanks so much, I couldn't agree more!

Margaret: Me too!  At first I was a bit rusty but now I LOVE writing again.

Lori: Thank you for your well written comment!

Kate:  You do just fine.  One doesn't have to major in English but it is nice to be able to appreciate our academic backgrounds.

Terry: Sometime I do think about it....I truly love pretending I'm a reporter for my blog!

Frank: This is exactly what I have been telling my kids.  College should be about getting an education and taking advantage of the time you have to simply enjoy learning!

Christine: Great for you!

Clark:  You are already a good writer and communicator.  My focus was not on grammar but on literature and creative thinking.  Honestly, I didn't study enough grammar!

Missy:  Wow, I had not heard that!  I can't imagine not writing cursive.  So the schools are only teaching printing now?

Feb 01, 2009 07:57 AM #25
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

Lyn:  I have thought about how texting will impact the younger generations ability too communicate and write in full sentences.  It will be interesting to watch!

Kelsey:  Having an MBA most definitely sets you apart from most agents.  Perhaps most REALTORS in the future will have college certainly is a plus!

Tracy:  Great to hear from an old friend.  I think your major is even more of an asset than mine!

Tom:  I have written my share of run on sentences in my day:)  Go Wildcats!

Judy: Thanks so much. 

Bill: So true! I love blogging because it has reminded me how much fun it is to write!  You are obviously a great writer.

Victoria: I hear you.  I was helping a new blogger whose first language was not English and he had a terrible time writing in English.  I felt so badly for him!

James: We see it every day, don't we?


Feb 01, 2009 08:06 AM #26
Kristen Wahl
Re/Max Plus - Rochester, NY

Yay! Diane, thanks for sharing this great news! This means my Masters in Literacy Education isn't being wasted! :-D By the way, I completely agree about poorly written ads, posts, etc. They're my biggest pet peeve!

Feb 01, 2009 08:43 AM #27

Thank you Diane for the compliment!...

I would like to respond to Victoria: I am a Canadian and, believe it or not, English is my second language... my mother tongue is French. Therefore it is not an excuse for not paying attention when writing, assuming that people who speak English as a second language will not notice how badly written some texts/ads/documents are! ;-) I DO (in both French and English)!

Bottom line, good writing skills show professionalism!!!

Feb 01, 2009 08:46 AM #28
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


I suck at writing and have no problem with that. I'm better face to face. I have also heard I'm an acquired taste :)

P.S. Thanks for the kind things you said on my post. You have no idea how much it all means to me.


Feb 01, 2009 10:00 AM #29
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Go Bears!  It sounds like we have a bit in common, though my BA in English from Cal is from 1991.

I am glad to hear that writing is making a comeback.  I am one of those who thinks that books about grammar are fun and that poor writing is difficult to read.

Feb 01, 2009 11:49 AM #30
Bob and Richelle Ward
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Newtown, CT
Realtors, ABR

I had forgotten how much I love to write until I started blogging.  Good thing I took typing (guess it's now called keyboarding) in school.  I type quickly and can almost type as fast as I think.  Thanks for the great post.

Feb 01, 2009 12:03 PM #31
Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

Will NAR be requiring writing classes in the future? I know I am not perfect in my writing skills and that is why my wife follows behind me and proof reads my stuff.

Todd Clark, Helping Families Home -

Feb 01, 2009 04:28 PM #32
Susie Blackmon
Ocala, FL
Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing

Writing and WORK will continue to be more important as time goes on due to the changes in the market and the business of real estate. Can you tell I want to be writing from an Airstream in Cody, WY??



Feb 01, 2009 09:27 PM #33
Jason Sardi
Auto & Home & Life Insurance throughout North Carolina - Charlotte, NC
Your Agent for Life

Diane - I really never thought writing would come into play for me in this businees.  I was certainly wrong on that one.  Thank you for the compliments:)

Feb 02, 2009 01:58 AM #34
Linda Bryan

I find I'm writing more in this career than I ever imagined. With listings, press releases, blogs, emails to my clients, my wordsmith skills are keeping me busy. I've also found a terrific mentor because I was able to write a letter for her, and she was most appreciative! My English major continues to pay off and I believe it always will. Finding time to write my memoir--now that's another problem.

Feb 02, 2009 04:38 AM #35
Tamara Dorris
Master Your Market Real Estate Coaching - Carmichael, CA

Hi Diane,

As an adjunct online English professor I HAD to read your blog when I saw the title!

Very good indeed. I didn't see the article in Inman but I think you summarized and commented on it beautifully. In fact, I've ALWAYS said to my real estate students (I teach RE too), that anyone can learn to fill out a's the communication, negotiation skills that count.

And yes, with social media and copywriting, our English writing skills will come in mighty handy!


Feb 02, 2009 06:57 AM #36
Paul Silver
Tiverton, RI
Rhode Island full service real estate firm

Good ole Saul makes a good point sometimes... but from my perspective, Liberal Arts degrees, espeically those that develop better writing adn communications skills, have always been the best set of skills development for a University student and a career minded person... How to think on one's feet is what is most important, and then communicating that to the customer/client, is key... but this is not new, and has in fact never changed.

Many think/thought that technical degrees or business degrees were the best way to success... but if you look at statistics over the years, the best and brightest have more often been liberally educated people (English, History, Philosophy, Social Science, etc.), not technically educated (accountants, engineers, business majors, marketing majors, etc.)

That said, I am glad to see that some in the media are re-recognizing this long true fact.

Feb 03, 2009 02:25 AM #37
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

If I could go back in time I would learn to write better.

Feb 03, 2009 06:24 PM #38
April Hayden-Munson
Brookfield, WI
Brookfield Wisconsin Real Estate

Diane --- I agree with Lenn - SHHHH.  Some can't even spell - even with spell check.  I personally wouldn't hire someone to sell anything for me if they post a blog with spelling errors.  (Makes me laugh a little when I see basic mistakes.) I hope that doesn't make me a "bad" person, I just think spelling correctly is an easy thing to get right. I may not be the best writer, but I try!  (I also have a dictionary at my desk... I use it almost daily.)

Feb 04, 2009 07:29 AM #39
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Diane Aurit

Lake Norman Real Estate
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