Monday, July 15, 2024

Courses designed to ‘raise the bar’ don’t go far enough

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It is the little things that happen every day that cause distrust and the accusation that Realtors are not professional enough. Teresa Boardman designs her dream course for raising the bar.

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C2EX stands for “Realtors Commitment to Excellence,” an online course available to members of the National Association of Realtors that has been around for three or four years. The course is supposed to help Realtors become more professional.

Members who complete the course get the C2EX endorsement. An endorsement isn’t the same as a designation or a certification. (It gets complicated; if you are a Realtor consult the NAR website.)

The course won some awards for how it is designed and deployed.

I am one of the 400+ NAR members, out of 22,000+ in Minnesota who took the course and earned the endorsement. A company can also get the endorsement, which means my company could be the first in the state to do so.

The course is promoted through our local associations. There are many members who don’t have a clue as to what a C2EX is, and I am confident that few people outside of the NAR know what it is.

(There are also a lot of people, who believe that “Realtor” is a job title — but I won’t go there today.)

There are NAR members who applaud NAR for doing something to address the lack of professionalism among some of its members. Sometimes doing something is needed.

There are so many small ways we can all improve that consumers would notice and appreciate. Most are small things that require a little work and some common sense.

It is the little things that happen every day that cause distrust and the accusation that Realtors are not professional enough. If I were to design a course designed to “raise the bar” in real estate, it would have to include the following:

1. Taking an in-depth look at illegal steering

Steering is a common fair housing complaint, yet so many do not understand what it is or what it is they are doing that they need to stop doing. Agents steer homebuyers without realizing it and the practice has helped to keep our neighborhoods segregated.

There are numerous ways to steer a buyer client into or out of a neighborhood. It always starts with making an assumption about the buyer based on who the buyer appears to be.

Real estate agents are not always aware that they are steering which is why this topic needs to be covered more thoroughly.

Asking homebuyers questions, rather than making assumptions about them, is all that it takes to prevent steering. Let the buyer decide where they want to live.

2. Have more respect for and safeguard client property

Some of the worst experiences I have had in real estate are when I got a call from a client or an agent regarding a door being left unlocked after an agent showed a property for sale.

Once there was a call about how the toilet was used during a showing; that was probably even worse than an unlocked door call. The client used words that I don’t even get to say if I want to remain professional when he described the incident.

Realtors will not be perceived as professionals without locking doors and leaving the property in the same shape they found it in.

Locking an elderly client out of her house by locking a garage door is a huge mistake and it is made worse when the arrogant agent cannot go back and help the homeowner get into the house.

Being on time for a showing matters. Being a few hours early or not showing up at all can be extremely upsetting to homeowners and it makes agents look unprofessional.

3. Treating a person with respect means learning to say their name.

Sometimes we work with people who have names that we are not sure how to pronounce. I remember attending a meeting where the leader made one attempt to pronounce an attendee’s name, got it wrong and proceeded to use the woman’s last name for the rest of the meeting.

Did you know you can look up almost any name on the internet and learn how to pronounce it?  We can hear what it sounds like and practice saying it a few times.

We can always ask people for help if they have names we have trouble pronouncing.

Pronouncing a potential client’s name correctly can be what sets an agent apart. People might be more impressed with hearing their own name pronounced correctly than with hearing a scripted and rehearsed listing presentation.

4. Realtor Commitment to Excellence sounds more professional than ‘C2EX’

Most days when I read the news I have to look up a least one acronym that is composed of three or four characters. In some cases, they mean more than one thing. Maybe I am slow but it took a while before “C2EX” came on my radar as having something to do with professionalism.

Sometimes I have to go to the C2EX site and look at it to make sure I got the letters in the right order.

As professionals, our communication with the general public and our clients should always be clear and easy to understand. We should avoid lingo and acronyms.

From what I can tell, C2EX hasn’t been widely adopted. Based on numbers on the C2EX website, I estimate that about 130,000 of the 1.5 million NAR members have the endorsement or are working on it. If you have never heard of the course, you are not alone.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that the course will disappear from the internet before I do.  However, I would like to thank SPAAR, my local association, for tirelessly promoting the program and those of us who completed it.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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