By Yvonne Dick
Whatever unique selling approach you take, there is one way to stand out in your career and add increased revenue to your portfolio without investing years of time. Extra-curricular education can pay for itself, offer a variety of benefits to you personally and enhance your reputation as a real estate professional.
Many real estate companies offer continuing education to their salespeople. The Ontario Real Estate Association has free, non-credit courses in areas such as leadership. The Real Estate Institute of Canada offers continuing education courses for Realtors in areas such as management, business planning, sales management, pricing and more. There are also online schools offering certificates and diplomas in various aspects of real estate.
The courses you may choose to take will enhance your knowledge, provide you with more confidence and sometimes give you a nice-looking certificate for your office wall. Credit courses can sometimes be used toward education at universities and colleges. Some online “schools” are more legitimate than others. You will want to make the best use of your dollar and know what you are getting for your money before you get started. When looking for a course or package of courses, it should say if they are credit, non-credit or accredited. You also want your education to be legitimate – in other words, from a school that is recognized by a real estate association and/or government in contrast to one that can be packaged and sold by anyone, experienced or not. Check if the course you are looking at is offered online by a company outside Canada.
A listing here will give you the confidence that you are getting a solid education from trained professionals.
If your school is recognized by the Canada Student Loans program, you might qualify for a loan or bursary to take the course or program. Even if you would rather pay up front, tuition fees can sometimes be used as a tax credit.
Local classes via a community college might be considered more legitimate by some than a certificate from an online school that has no qualification requirements or final exams. Sometimes, free is not free enough. While there are free courses from schools such as Harvard available online, you may not be able to show you have taken those courses because most are for personal study and won’t count toward future educational credits.
Think about your interests. You may be able to incorporate a hobby into your real estate business. For example, if you enjoy gardening or interior design, your knowledge imparted to a client may help them get the price they are asking for their home when it comes time to sell. It can also help buyers to look past the enhancements of a home for sale and decide if what they see has true value.
With so many courses available and so many methods of delivery, how do you decide which one may be relevant for you? First, think of your area. What sort of homes and businesses do you sell? What do you want to sell? If you are working in an area with older houses, a course similar to what a home inspector may take could be of use. If you had that, you might have a better intuition for which houses should be rebuilt and which still have a lot of life left in them.
If you would rather sell a different type of structure such as upscale condo communities, an evening course or workshop in home décor and staging might suit you well. Think about your clients’ needs too.
All salespeople will eventually settle into a niche of the market and generally get similar types of customers. You know your clients the best, so try to identify some recurring traits. Are they young families? How about a course in baby-proofing to add to your sales tour? You might talk about the materials that are child safe.
Using your knowledge as a way to specialize can be a smart investment. After all, unlike pens, magnets, calendars and newspaper inserts, when your knowledge is your sales tool, you will never run short of supplies.