Education and professionalism are the two key words in today's world of organized real estate. They are, in fact, sparking major trends within the entire industry itself.
Even though the number of real-estate licensees in the United States is falling, there never has been a more opportune time for people to enter and succeed in the business, according to most of the top leaders in the field. However, this applies only to people who are willing to fully prepare themselves for the job.
Brokers view the current market problems as a good influence for the future.
It shakes out the less capable and marginal operators, they say, and thus produces more opportunities for the serious, well-educated people in the business.
About 250,000 licensed salespeople dropped out of the field during the last three months of 1979.
"Some people look at the current economic squeeze in housing differently, but I see this as a time of great opportunities for salespeople and brokers alike," says William M. Moore, president of the Realtors National Marketing Institute.
The institute is the educational arm of the National Association of Realtors, a professional group with more than 600,000 members in the US.
The key differences between the real-estate professional and the dropout can be summed up in two words: experience and education.
Experience comes only with time. Education, however, must be planned, structured, and organized.
Educational programs are being revitalized on every level of organized real estate -- even on a worldwide scale. For example, new, dynamic programs, keyed to current market conditions, are being developed by the professional and educational exchange committee of the International Real Estate Federation.
Maurice Acers, world president of this active committee, says he is most proud of a highly innovative "youth exchange and intern" program that was recently launched by the committee.
The focus on education begins, of course, within the individual brokerage firms themselves. Most firms with 10 or more salespersons now have some kind of organized training program. In fact, it is now common for major real-estate firms to hire a full-time professional in-house trainer to plan, coordinate, and conduct a full-blown training program for workers.
This year, the swing toward more sophisticated education for real-estate salespersons has progressed to a new point of development. The in-house trainers have joined together to form a group called the Real Estate Trainers Association, with about 100 members. Its motto is "better training through sharing."
"Our new association will enhance our capability to meet the current demands for better-educated salespersons associated with our firms," says John Clements, director of training for Clements Realty in Phoenix, Ariz., and a member of the executive committee of the trainers' group.
This increased demand for more and better education is also seen in services offered by national referral-relocation organizations, which are, in fact, networks of organized reality firms.
Special training of real-estate salespersons on effective methods of helping families relocate from one community to another has been an important function of these network organizations for the last several years.
A new association of referral-relocation networks was organized earlier this year by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). One of the key reasons for the formation of the group is to improve and expand education in this specialized area.
The first meeting of the group was held in Washington, D.C., with Dr. Jack Carlson, NAR executive vice-president and chief economist, presiding; and the second meeting was held in May.
Six of the largest referral-relocation networks in the US are charter members of the new group. Their combined membership includes 3,950 real-estate brokerage firms, 10,900 offices, and 125,000 brokers and salepersons. That covers nearly 19 percent of total association membership.
"We see this new organization as a great opportunity to expand our educational resources," says Stephen Murray, executive vice-president of Inter-Community Relocation, one of the six member networks.
"It should provide us with the capability to educate our member brokers and salespersons more effectively. This will result in more professional counsel and service to relocating families."
Still another national association has just been formed with "improved education" as its primary goal. Also a grouping together of referral-relocation networks, it has been named the Council of Relocation Organizations.
New, stepped-up educational programs are being planned by the NAR for its general membership as well as the International Real Estate Federation.
All of this is shaping up in response to consumer demands in an increasingly complex and sometimes perplexing real-estate market.