A Flaw in the System: Courses vs. Reality

by Chicago Agent

Quin O'Brien

By Stephanie Sims

Are real estate courses and training seminars really preparing agents for what they will actually experience in the “real world” of the industry?

An ongoing murmur in the real estate community has been that real estate education courses don’t necessarily prepare agents for the real world. They may teach you what will be on the exam, and prep courses and classes help agents pass the exam, but when it comes to applying what they’ve learned in the outside world, many agents believe there isn’t much value to the course tests they pass.
“You use very little of the material they test you on in your daily real estate practice,” says Quin O’Brien, broker/owner of 4 Sale Realty, Inc. “Mostly what they teach us is to prepare for the test and is useless in our daily work. For example, almost everyone uses an attorney at closing, so the information we have to learn about closings doesn’t really prepare us to sell real estate. There’s also a lot of useless information we need to learn that we really don’t need. Do I really need to know who owns what part of a property when a river meanders through it when I sell houses in Chicago?”

O’Brien has been in the real estate industry for 17 years. Looking back at when he first took his exam as a licensee, and every year following to renew his license, his feelings about course and test subject matter has stayed the same – with the exception of Fair Housing Laws information, everything else taught is not really useful to agents.

“I don’t think the course work is designed to teach us how to sell real estate, but to help us pass the test,” he says. “I forget the information as soon as I’m done with the test.”

A 70 percent is needed to pass the licensing test. A big pet peeve of O’Brien’s is if agents want to know what they got wrong on the test and apply these lessons in the real world (if they actually need to), real estate schools often don’t tell students what they missed and what they got right – all they know is if they passed or failed.

“If you score 70 percent, this means you’re walking around with 30 percent erroneous information,” he says. “What if that 30 percent just happens to cover vital information such as Fair Housing Laws? It’s definitely a flaw in the system.”


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