Active Rain May 15, 2011

Raising the Bar: End Broker Exemptions on Contiunuing Education

I was recently asked by Bob Stewart of Active Rain on how I’d raise the standards of practice in the real estate industry, a discussion which raises passions among my colleagues. I didn’t have a thought; I had about five thoughts. Higher licensure standards, better oversight by local boards and many other things are often discussed. One rather under-discussed matter is the law in New York which gives brokers with 15 consecutive years experience an exemption on mandatory continuing education.

The rationale, I suppose is that 15 years experience should make one smart enough. In our changing world, it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, if I could point to a population of licensees who really need to go “back to school” it is the old salty dogs who somehow think that what they did in 1985 has any relevance to the current era. Some are, to my sensibilities, a version of age-impaired folks who shouldn’t be driving anymore. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it applies.

Many 15 year brokers either own their own firm or manage an office. They have agents they oversee who are doing things they don’t even grasp. Agents today are on social media, blogging, and working on teams that are subject to new laws in Albany. And their broker managers? Some of these guys haven’t closed a personal deal in a dog’s age, can barely operate a computer, and haven’t been to a legal briefing on law changes in a decade.

And when their agents “step in it,” calling their broker manager to help is nothing short of useless. They either don’t get the issue or have such atrophied skills that their buggy whip, analog, world view makes them resort to the only other tools they have in their arsenal: They bullshit. The problem ends up in the consumer’s lap, and embitters another member of the public to our profession. One of my biggest frustrations is dealing with another broker or manger who magnifies a problem due to lack of knowledge or indifference.

Does it happen often? Let me ask you this: How often would your spouse have to cheat on you or your doctor remove the wrong kidney for it to be an issue?

It isn’t just managers either. Transactions with a poorly informed associate broker are problematic as well. Their clients, who buy into their experience and years in the field, are instead subject to huge risk because the licensee at the steering wheel of the transaction is blind to everything in the road. And it’s OK by the law! The only protection is an after the fact, time consuming complaint or legal process.

It’s bad enough when dealing with a poorly educated singular broker on a transaction, but brokers and managers should be cutting edge informed and educated. They should be out ahead of the curve. Exempting them from continuing education in an age when components of 2008 are antiquated puts our industry in a compromised position, and it hurts the consumer.