The attached is my speech ritten as the remarks after my installation as the President of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors:
I would like to throw a few numbers at you: 60 and $700 OR 1200 and $15,000. These numbers represent the hours and dollars necessary to get a license...60 hrs and $700 represents what it takes to get your real estate license and 1200 hrs and $15,000 represents time and dollars to get your barber's license. I was astonished to learn of this divide in licensing requirements. We all know how important our role is in facilitating the purchase and/or sale of what is universally described as our clients' most expensive possession.
Not to worry...I am not going to get on my soap box, but I think we all can agree that our business is one where knowledge is an absolute must and it is a necessity as our business changes rapidly. Who knew what a "short sale" was 2 years ago? Now, our landscape is saturated with them and they have become an integral part of our real estate lives. Education is the foundation of our practice and provides for a plethora of opportunities. Sir Clause Moser said it best: "education costs money, but then so does ignorance".
I recall when I first got in the business, I asked the question of my manager: What do I need to do to make a $100K? She told me and tops on her list was education. I remember taking any class that I could. I got my GRI designation within 1 year and then the following year got my CRS designation. I can attest that those 2 courses provided me so much knowledge, I did make my financial goal. Now understand, knowledge without action is "marching in place", therefore, execution is paramount to success, but education is the building block.
According to a Harris poll conducted in 2008, stockbrokers, real estate agents and insurance agents were the least trusted professionals. We must change the consumers' mindset of the role of the Realtor®. Education can re focus the Realtor® as a trusted advisor not just a sales person. We must espouse a strong message to our clients and our potential clients that we can no longer be viewed as a "part time" career but rather a profession providing an important service. What I mean by a part time career does not necessarily mean in work hours; I mean in time devoted to educating oneself beyond part time and into the professional status. If we do not make these changes, we will be forever at the low end of all future surveys.
In order to make this shift to lifelong advisor, we must demonstrate:
•1. Our value as a negotiator during the offer process (and yet how many of us have taken negotiating classes or read books on the subject?)
•2. Our ability to interpret data about the purchase (and yet how many look at the updated market stats that are compiled by MRIS every month?) Remember, we were the keeper of information; that role has changed significantly as the internet has grown; we are now and should be the interpreter of the data and the expert that all turn to for understanding. Translating your knowledge about the market is a "high value" product. Consumers are looking for info that the real estate agent knows from working in the market place day after day. In Matthew Ferrara's most recent blog, he takes this to a new level of info interpretation; He theorizes that although our current market is the greatest opportunity to buy a home, that the bulk of the buyers (Gen X and Gen Y) (which are 1st time buyers) are NOT jumping in because they are not understanding the process. The process is complex and confusing: that's where we come in.
•3. Providing homeowners a consistent flow of relevant property info and market trends.
•4. Finally, sending info to our data base concerning a wide array of related services such as contractors, legal, insurance, etc.
The internet continues to provide opportunities for third parties to enhance the consumer's knowledge of the real estate transaction. This is our greatest opportunity as well as our greatest threat.
According to Mark Willis, CEO of Keller Williams Int'l:
"Now, more than ever, leadership in our industry is critical. We must show compassion for those who will not make it in our industry and leadership through education and standards to those who will".
And as stated by the current NAR President, Charles McMillan: "If you are not ready and willing to address change, you will not succeed."
Information is all around us. In 2008, there were 210 BILLION emails sent each day and the projected amount escalates to 300 BILLION by 2010. Corporately, the average user gets 156 emails per day and that accounts for about 2 hours out of his or her work day. The issue is no longer the lack of info, but rather finding the right info at the right time that matches the consumers wants with the appropriate and factual info. Go to our own NAR website, realtor.org, and you could spend all day and not touch on all of the helpful info concerning our industry. It is there that I learned that Maryland's unemployment rate is 7.2% and the highest unemployment rate in the US is in Michigan at 15.3%. Did you know that Maryland had the highest median income ($70545) and that Mississippi had the lowest at $37790. Additionally, did you know that from the boom peak in approximately 2006, to the last quarter of 2008, real home equity values are down 41% nationally? GBBR's website provides a wealth of information about or market area. Did you know that the largest segment of buyers in Baltimore City is single females? Professionals know this stuff!
In 2006, Stephen Swanapoel wrote in his Trends Report: "Gone are the days when agents were the gatekeepers of a wide range of real estate information and therefore by default broad experts in the home buying and selling process. The pace and extent of change in the real estate business has been escalating faster and faster. The challenges facing the agent of today are more complicated and complex than ever before. To succeed in the new world of real estate, agents will have to learn some new skills, be very technology proficient, offer a broader base of services and learn to adapt quickly."
Has that changed much 3 years later? I don't think so. It is estimated by NAR that Realtors® spend more than $1 billion a year on technology. Maybe the time has come for Realtors® to spend that amount on improving their knowledge and skills base.
So, if you agree that education is the foundation to success, what is your plan? What on line daily news will you get? Inman News, RIS Media, News Genius, or Realty Times? What classes will you plan to take? What designations will you get? What real estate magazines will you subscribe to? Now is the time to better yourself to become the best professional that you are. It is not too late. Many of you here have been in the business a long time; do not think you are exempt from learning....change is inevitable.
I thank you for coming tonight and celebrating with us. I look forward to working with my GBBR Executive Committee members, the Board of Directors, Jody, Carolyn and the entire GBBR staff as well as all of you. Have a great 2010!