By Yvonne Dick
There are lots of ways a real estate sales rep or broker can learn more about their profession. Education continues long after mandatory licensing courses. Personal coaching and private training is gaining popularity throughout business sectors. Most brokerages now offer some form of ongoing training.
There are many private companies and even public educational institutions producing real estate oriented courses for brokers and agents. Programs range from half-day seminars to extended weekends and semester-long learning. But often the price tag for the training isn’t cheap. How can a salesperson (of any experience level) determine if a course is legitimate? What are the best returns on extending your real estate training?
Training is available through colleges and universities. In B.C., The UBC Sauder School of Business has many such offerings – four certificates are available depending on your interest and desired area of expertise. Any of these will provide the graduate with the education and licensing eligibility to sell real estate in British Columbia.
You can specialise and provide rental property management services, provide strata management or take the university education further to become a real estate broker or a sub-mortgage broker. The programs at UBC Sauder could not be found in a search of colleges and institutions recognized by the Government of Canada Student Loans program, but since it is a branch of the University of British Columbia, it may be covered. Further information for those who are interested can be obtained through the admissions office. This is also one way to check the legitimacy of a real estate course or certificate, if a government body recognizes it or the school from which it’s offered.
Another way of checking legitimacy is through credits. Are educational credits available? Are they recognized at other colleges and universities where you may want to go in the future? Find out if friends or colleagues have taken the same courses or gone to the same institution. Local, provincial or national real estate associations may also have information about specific courses. They may be able to give recommendations on where to take various courses, or which ones to avoid.
Another long-established source of continuing education is the Real Estate Institute of Canada.
Coaching companies offer personal “gurus”. These public speakers offer to help salespeople make crazy amounts of money post-training. You can see their ads, which often include testimonials from first-name-only customers who are described as experts in their fields. Other advertising tactics include using depictions of cheques with large amounts of money written out to the successful seminar student.
The difficulty with these is in the multiple layers of training and expensive courses you may end up signing up for, with an uncertain ending point. Your mind may know that nothing in life is free. Your bank account, when you start as a salesperson or during an economic slump, may feel especially compelled to try these sessions.
Your introduction will often come via a free seminar. In the seminar, it is the group leader’s job to get the audience fired up and ready to earn piles of money. All you have to do is sign up for another seminar. The second seminar may be discounted for those attending the free version but will carry a larger price tag – often crossed out in promotional material with your discount clearly showing.
Brandon Turner of the Bigger Pockets website for investors offers his take on the real estate mega-sales programs: “The problem, in my opinion, is twofold. First, I believe that the vast majority of those who attend these events will never actually use the information presented. And second, the information people learn from those programs could easily be learned elsewhere free (such as on BiggerPockets).”
There is an astounding number of supplemental courses for real estate professionals. They offer help and coaching in meeting goals, selling more and retaining clients. With such a variety of offerings, it can be hard to figure out which give the most quality and information for the time you need to expand on them. First, figure out what you want to learn more of.
For instance, do you find yourself tongue-tied when showing a house or meeting a prospective seller? You may want to know more about public speaking. Do you want to learn about staging? Writing better feature sheets? How to answer a client’s toughest questions?
Sometimes what you want to know is actually available free in a home study format. If you prefer classroom learning, your local community college may have non-accredited courses. You probably won’t find “writing better feature sheets” as a part of the curriculum, but any business writing course may be useful. Learn small tricks to build up your vocabulary and confidence for future communications.
Real estate is a people-oriented business. If you are going into it feeling shy and self-conscious, perhaps you need to take a step back. Work on your strengths. Build your self-esteem before approaching people to give those perfect sales pitches. Sometimes you know the words in your head but have trouble getting them out. Education can be a confidence booster. No matter what you learn, it is more about how you apply that knowledge. Pick your teachers well, and don’t be afraid to strike out on your own in self-development learning. As you expand your repertoire in business and learning, you will get a better feel for which advice is good and which is not a match for you. The training that adds the most value to your business may come in unexpected forms, so stay open to it.