Schools back is back in full swing in the Athens area! For most people school bus yellow is our new favorite color, downtown is now impossible to navigate (or park), and homework is back on our daily agenda.
Athens and the surrounding area provide a multitude of fantastic educational opportunities for its residents. From an award-winning school system, to non-traditional learning, private schools, and the one and only UGA, there is no shortage of smarts around here. Whether you have children in school, or are going back to school yourself, or just want to broaden your knowledge on a particular subject, the options are endless and sure to fit your learning style.
But did you realize that we as Realtors are required to keep learning too?
That’s right. We don’t just get our license and hang our shingle. We are also required to keep up with the state continuing education requirements.
Did you know?
In order to obtain a real estate license, we had to complete a 75 hour Pre-Licensing course approved by the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Depending on the state, these courses can be taken online or in a classroom setting. Pre-Licensing will explore topics ranging from the parties and the relationships involved in a real estate transaction to pricing properties and understanding the methods of financing. We learned about agency, purchase and sale agreements, leases, and estimating seller and buyer costs in a real estate transaction. Once that was completed, we were then are able to move on and take the state exam.
Then we had what is called a Provisional License. Within the first 12 of having a provisional license, agents are required to take an additional 25 hours of classes called Post-Licensing. Post-Licensing goes deeper into the topics you learn in Pre-Licensing, but also gives insight into more real-life scenarios such as listing a home, preparing a market analysis, the mortgage process, marketing, appraisals and risk management.
Then we were considered fully licensed real estate salespersons in the state of Georgia.
But after all of that, we were still not a REALTOR©. The REALTOR© designation is specific in nature and only granted by the National Association of Realtors to those agents that have completed the NAR Code of Ethics course and become a member the NAR. The term REALTOR© is used much the same way that we use Tylenol for all things Acetominophen, but there is a distinction between a REALTOR© and a real estate agent, and it is one that as a consumer you may want to consider. NAR holds REALTORS© to a higher standard of conduct, and that is for your benefit.
So you met your licensing requirements , and become a REALTOR©, THEN that’s it, right?
Not so fast! Real estate agents are required to take 36 hours of continuing education every 4 years. Three of those hours have to be on License Law. And on top of that, REALTORS© have to take Ethics every two years. Each course is followed by an exam and is reported to the state board for compliance.
Continuing education courses can range from internet marketing, short sales, working with veterans, investors, or the ins and outs of property management. Many places offer these courses online, but our association often brings speakers and courses to us as well. This spring our team took a course on Social Media Marketing with Juanita McDowell from InMotion Real Estate Institute. It was a dynamic course that we all enjoyed and learned a great deal from.
Beyond that there are designations and additional levels of licensing. For example, both Donna and Christina have gone on to obtain their Broker Associate license. This means that they have taken an additional 60 hours of courses. These courses are similar in nature to the pre and post licensing topics, but are far more in depth. These courses prepare anyone taking them to become a Broker in Charge, they cover more topics relating to ethics, legal issues, duties and responsibilities and managing trust accounts. Christina has also completed her SRES designation, or Senior Real Estate Specialist, a perfect fit for her when paired with her Degree in Gerontology. Donna is utilizing her English degree to write courses for high school students on how to purchase real estate.
What does all this mean for you?
You have the right to ask your real estate agent what classes they have taken, what designations they hold, and how they can help you when it comes to buying or selling a home. All of these courses are designed to provide agents the tools to better serve their clients-but you have to be willing to use them. For us, continuing education is not just a ‘must do’ and or something to ‘go through’. We choose our electives carefully, making sure they are relevant and up to date with the needs of the market and our clients.