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Agent Education: How to stay sharp at every stage of your career

by Jason Porterfield

“Every profession requires training and learning to be better,” says Anna Klarck, broker/owner of AK Homes in Vernon Hills. As of this writing, she possesses 14 designations. “Agents need to understand that they’re really handling one of the largest investments in peoples’ lives. Every agent should understand every part of these transactions, not just how to write a contract.”

Klarck contends that regardless of whether they are on the buyer or seller side, agents must be aware of how to move the transaction from beginning to end.

NAR markets its designations as a means for agents to increase their skills and proficiencies in specific areas. Acquiring certifications usually requires a combination of course work and professional accomplishment; many designations cannot be earned by simply sitting through a class. Agents must go out into the field and facilitate transactions with varying degrees of difficulty. The Counselor of Real Estate designation, for example, is extended by invitation only and is carried by only 1,100 professionals worldwide. It is given to agents who have demonstrated their ability to provide objective, expert advice on land-related and real property matters. Meanwhile, the Certified Residential Specialist designation requires a Realtor to complete advanced training and demonstrate “outstanding professional achievement.” Designations may not be what clients look for outright, but once the client learns what they mean and the work involved in obtaining them, it can give them more confidence in the agent.

“It makes you stand out from your competition,” Klarck says. “It indicates a broad knowledge of the profession, compared to other agents your prospective clients might be interviewing.”

Taking it online

Advances in technology have made it easier for agents to learn practical skills online.

“There is now more training available to more people than there ever were with traditional options alone,” Toban says. “That brings convenience and flexibility onto the market that was not there before.”

Online education can offer agents flexibility and control, two things many real estate professionals prize, given how hectic their workdays can be. Agents might take courses specifically designed to help them succeed in real estate, or they might seek out more informal tutorials that give them insight into aspects of the business where they need improvement, such as giving a presentation. AgentEDU (an Agent Publishing company), for instance, offers agents “practical skills for real world situations” in an online, affordable video format. The subscription-based online video courses cover subjects such as core skills, converting leads, negotiation, and handling multiple offers, among others. The courses are designed to teach agents best practices in day-to-day situations.

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