Not sure how your local boards and or state licenising works, so let me start with how our province (British Columbia) works.
Every 2 year Licensing cycle in Victoria and the rest of BC Canada, Realtors are required to complete 18 hours of approved education. Of the required 18 hours typically 6 hours are prescribed by the BC Real Estate Council as a mandatory course.
The 6 mandatory hours are normally about agency law, disclosure topics or issues dealing with how we as Realtors stay out of legal trouble.
The balance 12 hours (two 6 hour classes or four 3 hour classes). We have about 20 some classes to select from and most are about some form of real estate law and or agency. We know that there are thousands of courses and classes that are very good and applicable to what we do, but because they are not going towards re-licensing credits, many agents keep redoing the same old stuff over and over again.
Aside from these courses, pay all ongoing fees, and our initial educational requirements of passing an open book 20 assignment correspondence course, pass a 3 hour multiple choice exam and attending a one week applied practice course, there are no other requirements for Realtors to remain licensed.
From what I know about most other areas in North America, they are more or less similar as far as I can see. There are few if any other requirements in most other areas, so but how does any of these requirements assure that your Realtor really has the knowledge and skills essential to assist our clients profesionally and with high quality.
It would appear to me that the number one reason why clients sometimes are unhappy is for them not achieving their objectives in a timely, professional, and affordable manner.
Somewhere in current the trend to focus on the law, we seem to have forgotten that this is a sales and services industry.
How can anyone proof that they know their stuff, if sales success and customer service is not part of the qualifications for a Realtor/ Broker/ Agent to obtain and maintain their license in good standing.
If you have been around as long as I have, you know what I am talking about;
Example, You have a great listing and we get a "buyers agent" writing an offer, and just about everything is wrong in the offer. What do you do, change the offer, take the buyers agent aside and discuss that the offer is not proper, talk to their managing broker, either way you run the risk that either the buyer or the seller gets cold feet and the potential deal goes sideways, just because the agent made a mess of putting the offer together.
So here are my suggestions to improve the overall quality of our industry standards and the ability for the general public and our peers to confirm the quality and ability of the agents they are considering.
Aside to the existing requirements
- In order to qualify for a new license, agents need to apprentice with a qualified agent or broker for at least 1 year or one licensing cycle, after licensing. Agents that apprentices, will be identified with an A behind their name in all marketing, advertising and promotions.
- Mandatory or continuing education should include "Sales, Business management and Customer Service courses.
- A minimum number of listing and or sales completed per licensing cycle (within 10 % of the regional average), if not, one would return to apprentice level for the next licensing cycle.
- A Peers only rating and review system to be implemented, so that we can write a reviews about the experience with Realtors in previous transactions (both completed and not completed transactions). only accessible by agents using the local board systems on the agent profile page.
- A consumer based rating and review system allowing our clients to post ratings and reviews that are attached to the records at our local boards and are accessible to our Realtor .ca or.com profiles (hence can be viewed by the general public.
- If Reviews over a licensing cycle are less than 70% positive, Realtor would return to an Apprentice Level.
- Allow all existing and new locally, regionally and or (inter)nationally approved courses thru-out North America to be used towards educational credit hours.
Now, I know that my suggestions are very controversial, and are not likely to pass at the board, provincial/ state level. why not, you ask, well for one it would affect their respective cash-flow (fewer licensees and potentially lower class attendance). A good number of Realtors and Brokers would not want these changes, partly because they are scared for getting exposed, and for brokers to loose potential cash-flow and or get exposed for not providing proper guidance, training and supervision.
We can dream off course, and I think the general public and the industry in general would benefit in the long run, to have a transperent and true method to assure that we are always offering the consumers and our peers the opportunity to work with those that are the best suited to get the job done for them.
We for one would welcome the challenge to be compared with anyone out there based on peer and consumer reviews and our commitment to continually improve our own practices and those of our industry.