Realtors embrace continuing education opportunities
Area real estate experts certainly are making the most of their educational opportunities.
Realtors and brokers in Charlotte County and North Port have been enrolling in offerings through the Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte-North Port Association of Realtors. Some classes can be completed in hours, while others are multi-week offerings. Either way, those on the association’s board of directors report that members are taking part.
“We’re getting very, very good attendance,” said Nancy Bell, chair of the professional development committee and Realtor/special event coordinator for Prudential Florida Realty Inc. in Punta Gorda.
“One of the main goals of our professional development is to provide as much educational opportunity to help the Realtors to better prepare themselves,” said Ms. Bell, who has been an instructor. “We have doubled the number of designations in the past year, which is great.”
The National Association of Realtors has affiliated institutes, societies and councils that offer programs and award designations for experience and expertise gained upon
completion of coursework. Realtors
are able to gain more designations by continuing their education. Those designations are especially helpful when people are considering which Realtor they want to help them sell or buy because they indicate Realtors’ education and expertise.
Particular real estate franchises such as Coldwell Banker, Re/MAX and Century 21, larger groups that have multiple offices, typically offer their own courses, Realtors said. What the agents do not get from their office, the association fills in. “One thing brokers need to do is encourage them (Realtors) to take as many classes as possible,” Ms. Bell said.
“We make all of the general courses available for those that do not have a broker doing that on a regular basis,” said Realtor Bob Gray, the association’s president. “The stuff that we’re teaching at the board is generally stuff that is generic. It tends to be current.”
Ms. Bell and David Logan, director of professional development, work together to keep the course and instructor rotations fresh. Mr. Gray said sometimes association members request a course be offered, though the professional development members have a good understanding of the types of courses that would be most helpful.
“I think we offer a great variety of classes,” said Vicky McPhee, a director on the association’s board of directors and past chair of professional development. “I think we’ve got the best board in the state as far as what we offer.”
For example, the association repeatedly has offered a short sale/foreclosure course because of its relevancy in recent years when short sales and foreclosures have swarmed the market. Mr. Gray said a short sales/ foreclosure expert taught the class, which was offered twice a week. “We had huge turnouts,” he said.
Realtor Lorraine Anderson of Anderson and Associates Real Estate in Punta Gorda completed the class. She said husband Mark Anderson, broker and owner of Anderson and Associates, took a short sale/foreclosure course after she did.
“The short sale is the anything can happen sale,” she said. “It wasn’t as intense as the one Mark took. It was very detailed. He got a lot of new information.”
The association last and this week offered its members multiple sessions of a course about new contracts. The three-hour course first was offered to brokers and managers, with two sessions for Realtor members. It covered contracts released as of this month, including the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar Residential Contract, Florida Realtors/Florida Bar ASIS Contract and Florida Realtors/Florida Bar Comprehensive Addendum. Mr. Gray said the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar contract will replace the Florida Association of Realtors and The Florida Bar contract by September.
“It’s a fairly extensive contract,” Mr. Gray said about the contract, now up from six to 11 pages. “It spells everything out. It takes out the gray area.”
The contracts class is an example of an offering that new Realtors should take. “The contracts are changing all the time,” Ms. Bell said. “With all the changes that are made, you really have to stay on top of it.”
Other courses that have been popular are ones covering technology and social networking, both of which the experts said are crucial in today’s market. Realtors are taught how to set up a Facebook page and what to put on it in building business. “We’re trying to make Realtors better equipped to be on the cutting edge of the real estate business,” Mr. Gray said.
Realtors who want to be up-to-date on market trends are taking the courses. Even the most seasoned ones are making the rounds. Mrs. McPhee was one of the instructors in the 2008 21-hour Success Series Institute for Excellence in Real Estate. “We had agents who had been in the business around here a long time,” she said.
“When we saw this shift in the market, we went back to basics,” said Mrs. McPhee, a Realtor for Keller Williams Realty Peace River Partners. “You’ve got to work harder for the money.”
Another pertinent course coming up this year is one in which a high school Spanish teacher will teach entrylevel Spanish. “We at least would learn the real estate terms in Spanish,” Ms. Bell said. “That’s a class I’m sure will be full.”
The association has a core of instructors who teach regularly, including those from parts outside of the immediate area, yet first-time instructors get a chance too. “We try to do a mix,” she said. “We’re trying new ones as well just to stimulate.”
Once courses are completed, Mrs. McPhee, said professional development members solicit feedback from course participants through an electronic survey. An open-ended section allows for comments, she said.
In addition to the courses, the association offers educational opportunities at meetings. A September lunch and learn opportunity will feature a presentation about short sales from a Sarasota real estate attorney and short sale negotiator.
Mrs. Anderson said a representative from the Housing Corp. of Charlotte County spoke at a meeting she attended. She was able to apply information learned there. “It’s always something relevant,” she said. “It’s always been good information.”
“Everything that Mark and I have taken has been very well-done,” she said. “It’s been conducted in a very professional manner.”
A retired teacher who relocated here from the North, Mrs. Anderson has been a Realtor for a little more than three years. She just completed her post licensing requirements through the state board. She said she will begin taking through the association the 14 hours of continuing education courses she needs before her next renewal. She said she would like to get the NAR’s Green Designation, which indicates education about green building principles regarding residential and commercial properties.
The association has an Education Passport in which members pay a certain fee for the year and enroll in classes for free. “Since we’ve come out with that, I think we’re seeing more people coming out,” Mrs. McPhee said. ¦