Dear Monty: Can a rookie real estate agent be a good choice?
Reader question: We are selling our home with an experienced agent. Several occurrences have us questioning the agent’s value; missed or late for appointments, pricing advice refuted by a professional appraiser and more. We have read and been told only to deal with an experienced agent, that we shouldn’t let new agents “practice on us.” Do you agree with this assessment? Kevin and Maggie D.
Monty’s answer: This is one of the real estate industry’s most prevalent myths. The notion that experienced real estate agents are the only choice for the consumer is just wrong, yet many “experts” hold and promote this mistaken belief. Another reason the myth persists is that “experienced” agents often are the culprits for spreading this word.
When looking for an agent, there are many good ones. There are also many agents that are not so good. It can be difficult to determine the right agent for you because one trait many agents have in common is a pleasant personality. Human nature is such that it is easy to like someone personable, but personality is not enough. With an order in hand, the performance can take a dive. This information may aid you in the selection process.
Real estate education and training
Almost anyone can gain a license to practice real estate. The real estate industry has low barriers to entry; minimal education and testing requirements, extreme fragmentation and low entry point costs.
To receive a real estate license, most states require between 50 and 80 hours of pre-license training and testing. Post licensing, licensees are subject to state required training and also voluntary training opportunities. Here are some examples:
- State mandated continuing education
- Orientation training with a real estate company
- Real estate company ongoing training
- National and state real estate association seminars and courses to gain designations
- Independent trainers that offer seminars and coaching
As independent contractors, real estate agents cannot be required to attend most training functions as required attendance could jeopardize their independent contractor status.
The industry emphasis on post license training is about how to identify and gain customers.
Reasons people choose real estate as a career
Real estate attracts people for a variety of personal reasons. It is an industry that works much like nature where survival of the fittest is a fact of life. The business is also unique because your most fierce competitors can also be your best customers. It is called co-brokerage.
Here are the main reasons individuals are attracted to the real estate industry:
- Being their own boss and independent
- Earning an income higher than their current pay scale
- Unable to find a job in their chosen field
- Retire from their career and seek to remain productive
- A lead generation strategy for investment opportunities
- An occupation in which they can “hide” from work but be gainfully employed
- An interest in learning more about real estate
- An exciting, fast-paced and challenging environment
- Part-time income
New recruits to real estate companies have a significant failure rate, and many leave the industry within a year or two. Additionally, the burnout rate among more seasoned agents creates turnover as well.
Integrity, common sense and duty
Many of the traits necessary to perform well for a customer can be mastered quickly with the proper guidance. A savvy new licensee who is motivated and open to learning can become proficient with the knowledge essential for properly serving customers. Some examples of this include mastering the MLS computer systems, understanding the real estate market in a particular section of a town or city and learning rudimentary appraisal principles to evaluate property. Some companies provide a manager or in-house trainers to shadow new agents on the job.
Some of the reasons people choose to work in real estate stated earlier challenge the notion that longevity is a significant factor in determining competency. Certain individual traits have nothing to do with gaining experience. For example, work ethic, honesty and common sense are not trainable, regardless how long a person has been in the business.
A new real estate agent has often acquired training in a former job that can meet or exceed the standards for real estate training. For example, new agents that have experienced strong customer service training or training in negotiation skills may have a leg up on a 20-year veteran who lacked that experience.
Richard Montgomery gives no-nonsense real estate advice to readers’ most pressing questions. He is a real estate industry veteran who has championed industry reform for over a quarter century. Send him questions at DearMonty.com.