Reducing the learning curve

by Blake Boldt

Given the swirling tides of today’s real estate landscape — from the economy and tax reform to local market conditions — agents need to be alert and stay informed, says Ian Robinson, board president of the North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors. The association’s focus on hands-on training for its members has proven to be a worthy endeavor.

“It can be hard to keep members engaged at times. But from my own personal experiences, a lot of agents have come to our live training sessions and thrived,” he says. “That interaction with the instructor and having a discussion and a dialogue really helps them. We have a great stable of trainers and recently hired a new director of education to enhance our efforts, along with an excellent technology department that has been extremely beneficial.”

Agents know that real estate laws and regulations regarding home sales are constantly adapting, so it is vital that they stay on top of new developments. NSBAR, which represents more than 3,700 practiioners in the North Shore and Barrington region, helps make that task more manageable.

“What we can help agents with is understanding what regulations are in place,” Robinson says. “Our association is focused on educating agents on legal and ethical standards and procedures so that they maintain professional compliance.”

Robinson stresses the importance of Realtors speaking up and offering their perspective on key issues that affect their industry.

“We need to make our voices heard,” he says. “The most important thing that I can encourage members to do is to respond to emails they receive from NAR with calls to action about critical issues like tax reform. It’s so important that they jump on it and support NAR in their efforts to defend housing.”

Having experienced the ups and downs of the Chicagoland real estate market throughout his career, Robinson expresses confidence in the year ahead – but he acknowledges that challenges await both buyers and sellers.

Despite a relatively stable local economy, the Chicagoland real estate market continues to experience inventory shortages. Potential homebuyers are competing for a smaller share of mid-range homes and new construction has not kept up with demand.

“The reality is that no matter what happens with the economy, with tax reform or any other issue, the real estate market is going to be good for somebody,” he says. “Right after the economic crisis, property investors were able to purchase properties and rent those units for a significant cost. Over time, that has caused rental rates to go up, so that renters have more difficulty saving up for their first home. Many potential homeowners have also delayed the decision to buy a home due to student loan debt and the lack of available inventory.”

No matter what challenges they may be facing, Robinson maintains a desire to connect with agents of all backgrounds and consulting with them on matters that are affecting their business. These conversations can help improve NSBAR’s ability to serve its members.

“I want to continue being of service to all members of the board and our membership as a whole,” he says. “By hearing their concerns, I can make recommendations not just in the short term, but on a long-term basis.”

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