By Jeff Stern
Tell me if this sounds strange to you.
In many professional industries, such as financial planning or insurance sales, the consultant does not simply dash off into the fray after training. They become apprentices, practicing in real time with real clients under the mentorship of a seasoned professional.
Yet in real estate, where we walk people through legal contracts and the sale or purchase of what will likely be the largest asset of their lives, this is not always the case.
Construction, financing, legal aspects, for Pete’s sake – many industries require real-time training under a mentor. In the real estate industry, however, apprenticeship isn’t a given. Does that sound weird to anyone else?
In Manitoba, aspiring real estate agents must become trained through our provincially mandated education in order to be licensed. Then they head off to their broker’s office, pick up the phone and start on their path of working for clients.
While annual re-licensing education is required of licensees to keep them up to date on industry happenings, I feel we need to also incorporate mentorship or apprenticeship for new licensees.
The issuance of a license should not be enough to hit the ground running. It is kind of like reading a book about surviving in the woods and then thinking you know how.
There’s knowing information, and then there’s understanding how to apply that knowledge in real time in the midst of a transaction, especially when conflict, confusion, emotional upheaval and legal anomalies surface, all of which are daily fare for the real estate professional.
This is what needs to change.
I’ve had the honour of training soon-to-be real estate professionals for many years. As often happens, a new agent then would contact me with questions or invite me for coffee and we talked shop. As I listened, I heard a lot of familiar questions that plague many a new professional.
In one instance, an agent was troubleshooting a particular situation with a transaction, he was nervous and unsure about how to move forward. The responsibility that rests on an agent’s shoulders is big. He had reason for caution. He had an advantage over most new agents though, in that his broker was eager to mentor him, and he had courage and willingness to reach out to another seasoned professional and ask me for advice.
Most new agents are not so lucky to have that mentorship built into their place of work. And, because it isn’t a thing, leaving the implication that what you learned in class is enough, many don’t pursue advice from the more experienced.
This is the situation many new agents find themselves in, and it can be a catalyst for a blunder of contractual proportions.
We can do better.
We owe our industry professionals more. I feel we owe homeowners and homebuyers more. We owe excellence in knowledge and service, and it starts with thorough training. I strongly feel it starts with bringing mentoring to our industry.
But maybe I’m singing into a pail here.
What do you think? Should the real estate industry introduce an apprenticeship program?